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Monday Mailbag: Why the Canucks and Ian Clark could be headed separate ways, and the Michael DiPietro situation, explained

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
David Quadrelli
1 year ago
Another week, another mailbag.
You’ve got questions, and I’ve got answers! Let’s see what you wonderful people asked this week.
The big story of the week came after Kevin Woodley went on the VANcast and dropped some major bombs regarding the current contract status of Canucks goaltending coach Ian Clark.
Clark’s track record speaks for itself, and he’s rightfully credited with morphing Jacob Markstrom and now Thatcher Demko into elite goaltenders.
Now, it looks as though the Canucks may lose him.
Here’s what Woodley had to say:
“I would probably lean towards him being done here if there isn’t a deal in place at this point and to my knowledge, there isn’t. This is the time of year when he made up his mind in Columbus three years ago that he was out because they didn’t have contract talks… If he hasn’t got a contract [already], I don’t expect him back.”
To be clear, this is not coming from Clark himself, and Woodley stressed that when speaking on the VANcast. It is solely coming from Clark’s past history of when he decides to move on from an organization. When he feels he isn’t being prioritized, he looks at all of his options and goes from there. After all, his contract with the Canucks is set to expire this summer, and I don’t think he plans on retiring.
Jacob Markstrom would certainly love to reunite with him in Calgary, but Jim Benning and the rest of the hockey operations department would absolutely love to keep him in Vancouver.
One interesting thing to note is that before he departed, former Director of Amateur Scouting Judd Brackett was not made available to media. For the past year, Clark has not been made publicly available for any interviews, and requests from various media outlets to speak with him have been declined.
Of course, these are two very different situations — one was a hockey decision while the Clark debacle is a business decision — but it’s still interesting to note, nonetheless.
Similar to Brackett, however, Clark will have little trouble finding work in the NHL immediately.
There’s still time to get a deal done, and one look at Francesco Aquilini’s Twitter replies will tell you that there’s a lot of pressure from fans to keep Clark in Vancouver, but as of now, things aren’t looking great.
I think the answer has to be Brandon Sutter here. At a lower cap hit and for fewer years committed to him, he’s a fine bottom six player.
Sutter still has some two-way ability whereas Jay Beagle is a bit of an offensive black hole. If you’re trying to construct a top-9 and a fourth line that just picks up some extra favourable minutes and features your best penalty killers, Sutter is the clear choice.
I’ve talked to the draft experts, and the verdict is in. First and foremost, let me say that if the Canucks somehow got the first overall pick, or maybe even a top-three pick, I’m calling teams and seeing if it’s possible to trade down, pick up an asset, and draft Luke Hughes.
The youngest Hughes brother is an interesting physical package, and while J.D. Burke of Elite Prospects says that his decision-making and hockey IQ isn’t quite as high as Jack and Quinn’s, he would still be an intriguing prospect for the Canucks to snatch up.
As for my top five, I’d be lying if I said I’ve done enough watching to form a concrete opinion on who would be best for the Canucks, but here’s what it is right now (list is extremely likely to change).
Matthew Beniers (C), William Eklund (C/LW), Luke Hughes (LD), Brandt Clarke (RD), and Fabian Lysell (LW) in that order.
With the Canucks picking in the first round, expect lots of draft content coming from us here at CanucksArmy in the months leading up to the big day.
To me, it needs to be the greasiest of greasy goals scored by Bo Horvat against Edmonton. After the game, Horvat said the goal was “hands down” the greasiest goal he’s ever scored.
In case you forgot, here it is in all of its glory:
There was bewilderment, confusion, and all-around chaos, making it the best Canucks moment of the week, although Myers’ goal(s) and Gaudette’s late tally against Montreal are also great options.
Does it surprise you to learn that it’s through a combination of phone calls and emails to other GMs?
Either that, or they text Elliotte Friedman to get the word out.
I’ve been working on a story for a while now about the Canucks’ non-roster goaltenders and how the organization works to develop them. One of the goaltenders listed in that article and who I spoke to for the story is Arturs Silovs.
Silovs is a Latvian netminder who is an athletic freak with massive upside thanks to his raw abilities. The issue is that he’s never had proper coaching and is all over the place when it comes to his technical ability.
His stance is too low and wide and he struggles with crease movement. Thankfully, those are things that can be fixed, and are parts of his game that the organization is working tirelessly on to help him improve at.
As for his ceiling? It’s absolutely to shock everyone and become a late-round steal that 30 other teams are kicking themselves on for passing up on because he finds his way to becoming an elite starter.
He’s still only 19 and has a long way to go before he’ll suit up in an NHL game for the Canucks, but the club was always aware that he was going to be a project goaltender who carried a ton of upside.
Now it’s all about being patient and waiting to see how well he’s able to refine his game.
What better way to wrap this up than with another goaltending question?
Michael DiPietro hasn’t played a professional hockey game in over a year. What’s happening with him right now is far from ideal. It’s a bad situation no matter how you slice it.
And much like the Ian Clark situation, it’s one that is largely out of Jim Benning’s hands.
When Benning spoke to media in his press conference a few weeks back, he shared the concern felt by many about DiPietro’s lack of game action.
“You’re right, we’ve got to get him into some games soon,” said Benning.
The easy solution to this would have been to sign a third-string goaltender or snatch one up off waivers at the start of the year and keep that goaltender on the taxi squad while DiPietro collects starts in Utica.
The main issue with that is that most of the goaltenders who were on waivers and available to the Canucks were on one-way deals, meaning they would need to be paid NHL salaries, regardless of where they were playing. While on the taxi squad, they don’t count against the Canucks’ salary cap, but are still being paid roughly $700,000 real dollars, whereas DiPietro is on a two-way AHL deal and is only being paid $70,000 in real dollars.
That being said, a guy like Troy Grosenick in LA for example, was signed to a two-way deal in October and is only making $350,000 while on the taxi squad as a result.
It’s an all around bad situation and — much like the Ian Clark situation — is largely about the money that has nothing to do with the salary cap.
The unfortunate thing is, a promising young goaltending prospect who is in his crucial development years and took a major step forward last season is the one who has to pay the price for it.
As for how much longer it will be before his development is severely stalled? I wish I had a crystal ball to give you a concrete answer. What I can tell you is that not getting into game action for this long certainly isn’t a good thing for his development.
On the bright side, he’s working daily with Ian Clark, but I’m sure even Clark — much like Benning — would tell you that it’s of the utmost importance that DiPietro gets into some game action sooner, rather than later.
That’s all for this week! Thanks again to everybody who asked a question. To ask a question in a future mailbag, be sure to follow me on Twitter @QuadreIli and keep an eye out for the weekly call for questions!

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