When you take a look at Arturs Silovs’ stats up to this point in his career, it ain’t pretty.
The young Latvian netminder, who the Canucks drafted back in 2019, has tremendous upside and is a project goaltender who is presumably on the cusp of getting a boatload of starts in the ECHL this upcoming season.
Weight: 203 lbs
2021-22 team: TBA (but likely an ECHL team)
Much was made of Michael DiPietro’s lack of games last season — and rightfully so — but Silovs never got the same kind of attention, despite being in a similarly less-than-ideal situation.
At the start of the season, the Canucks announced their plans to loan Silovs to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. While that plan was great in theory — after all, keeping both he and DiPietro above the 49th parallel was important for the Canucks to do in a time of quarantines for players entering the country — Silovs just didn’t get many starts.
In fact, he only got one.
In his sole appearance for the Moose, Silovs made 23 saves on 25 shots, and never saw the crease again.
What he did do, however, was continue to progress in the right direction, and like every other goaltender in the Canucks’ “goaltending stable” — as goaltending coaches Ian Clark and Curtis Sanford call it — Silovs has a clear path set before him, and knows exactly what he needs to work on in order to progress in his game.
“Communication is massive,” Sanford told CanucksArmy back in March. “It doesn’t even matter what position we’re talking about. Forwards, defence, and goaltending, I think it’s always important to have really good communication from the coaches down to the development coaches and to the players. It has to really be open, and I think once we leave training camps and development camps, we have a pretty good idea of a pathway for these players from the start of the season, to the end of the season. It’s just kind of continually monitoring, evaluating, and communicating what those expectations are going to be and how we’re going to achieve them.”
When we talked to Silovs about the work he’s done with Clark up to this point, he had nothing but good things to say.
“I’m getting experience and new ideas of how to play in goal,” said Silovs. “It’s more about mentality and details in the game. How to save more energy, how to play properly, it’s been really good. I’ve never had a coach like Ian before so it’s been a good experience for me. It’s more about just improving my movement, my skill in total, and just to become a better goalie.”
Silovs’ biggest area for improvement is his wide stance. This greatly limits his mobility when trying to move laterally, and makes him look smaller in the net, despite his 6’4 frame.
That being said, Silovs excels at sealing off the bottom of the net and in pure athleticism. These were two things that he’s had in his game from a young age, and it’s those natural intangible abilities that made Clark and the Canucks attracted to him.
The term Clark likes to use when evaluating goaltenders is length. This doesn’t just mean a goaltender is tall, either.
“You can have a very tall goalie that is very uncompetitive and therefore, they’re not long,” Clark told CanucksArmy back in June. “You can have a shorter goalie, that is extremely competitive, that has more length. You can have a goaltender that’s very tall but has poor flexibility for example, and they lack length because the length must also be flush to the ice. When a goalie is extending their leg if they don’t have the flexibility to keep their knee flush to the ice and really seal everything down, really that length has no value.”
Silovs has that flexibility and is an athletic freak, similar to Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Silovs’ numbers in Barrie with the Colts at the ripe age of 18 certainly aren’t glamorous, but as he continues to progress — and as Silovs said, “learn to play properly” — the club believes it’s only up from here for the young Latvian netminder.
The thing that makes Silovs so intriguing is that he was a goaltender who the Canucks and Clark were extremely high on at the draft, and now he’s coming up through the Clark-led goaltending institution the Canucks have built.
When talking about a goaltender with similar attributes to Silovs, Aku Koskenvuo, Clark joked that he could “teach technique in a weekend” so when evaluating prospect goaltenders, he’s not too concerned about a goaltender’s lack of technical ability.
“For me, I’m a big believer when it comes to scouting in evaluating the intangibles when it comes to goaltenders,” Clark said. “Technique and structure and all those types of things are very tangible. Those are things we can kind of do with our eyes closed. They’re very tangible and very blueprint-y.”
“I say this, and I probably shouldn’t, but I say that we can teach a goaltender technique in a weekend,” Clark said with a laugh. “So for me, those things really don’t register for me when I’m evaluating a goalie. What I’m really looking at is the intangible things that I know through my history in the game are much more difficult to teach through nurture.”
Silovs is likely going to play a ton of games this season in the ECHL, and this is hands down the best thing for his development.
This is going to be a big year for the Canucks to evaluate where Silovs is at in his game, and it’s more than likely that Silovs starts to get some more hype among Canucks fans as a result.