Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains to debut for Canucks after unique and hard-fought journey to the NHL

Photo credit:Instagram via @abbotsfordcanucks
Dave Hall
4 months ago
Not all success stories have to be written the same way.
Just ask Arshdeep Bains, a Surrey native who has persevered despite facing the adversity of being overlooked in every draft conversation along his journey.
After being passed over in the Bantam Draft, he dominated through his minor hockey days, eventually catching the attention of the Red Deer Rebels (WHL).
His performance with the Valley West Hawks in the BCEHL circuit couldn’t be ignored, as he finished eighth in the league as a 16-year-old with 16 goals and 56 points in 22 games, leading the league with a 2.55 point per game pace by December. He soon found himself donning Rebels’ colours, making his WHL debut midway through that same 2017-18 campaign.
Known for his hockey smarts, strength, and offensive prowess, Bains made an impact early on, notching three points in his first five games as a 16-year-old.
While he tapered off throughout the remaining schedule, he would finish his season with two goals and seven points through 40 games and continued to receive praise as a responsible 200-foot player.
In the following season, his first full year in the WHL, he continued progressing but found himself in a typical situation for an undrafted 17-year-old, bouncing between the team’s bottom and top-six. He collected just 18 points across 63 games.
Over the next two years, his offensive game truly began to resonate and blossom, producing 72 points across 86 games, including a condensed COVID-bubble year.
Despite the breakout seasons, however, his efforts were not enough to garner any real attention from NHL scouts, and he went undrafted in both the 2020 and 2021 NHL Drafts.
Being passed over once again may discourage some, but Bains used it to fuel his most impressive season, at any level, to date. As an overage player, the Surrey native dominated the WHL, posting 112 points in 68 games — with a point-per-game playoff push to boot — and became the first South Asian player to claim the league’s scoring title.
“It’s great that I could do that for the community,” Bains told Sportsnet back when he signed his first pro contract. “Maybe it’s something that can push kids to want to play. And being a role model for kids that want to play one day, if that’s what it does, that’s super cool. I’m hoping that more kids of South Asian descent want to play hockey, and think they can achieve great things.”
This truly incredible year netted him his first NHL contract, signing a deal with his hometown team, the very one he grew up playing as a local kid from Surrey.
“It’s a credit to him for staying with it, not giving up on himself, staying positive – keep working and keep making himself better everyday.” Red Deer Rebels general manager Brent Sutter told the Red Deer Advocate at the time of the signing. “I think he’s done a really good job, and he’s being rewarded for it.”
You could say that this statement from Sutter was evergreen, as it still holds truth even today. Bains has taken that work ethic and dedication that earned him a look and has tailored it toward his pro career.
Of course, his rookie year in the AHL didn’t come without its bumps and bruises, as most rookie seasons do.
Initially struggling to secure a regular spot in the lineup, he eventually found his niche as a trusted penalty-killer for the Abbotsford Canucks. As the season progressed, his playmaking ability, which saw him collect 69 assists just one year prior in the Western League, became increasingly evident.
With 32 of his 38 points coming at 5v5, he was showing the ability to contribute at even strength, and additionally, his effectiveness on the penalty kill steadily improved. By the playoffs, he emerged as one of the team’s most-trusted forwards in that role.
Appearing in 66 games, Bains tallied 13 goals and 25 assists, finishing fifth on the Abbotsford Canucks in team scoring. Additionally, he recorded two goals and three points through six AHL playoff games.
As he has done in every season of his young career, the now 23-year-old has elevated his game in the second year of his professional career and continues to excel in the AHL this year.
In 42 games, he leads his Abbotsford team in most statistical categories except for goals. Whether it be primary assists, points – both even strength and power play – or 5v5 goal differential, you name it, there is a good chance that Bains is leading in it.
Representing his team at this year’s AHL All-Star event, he showcased his skills by collecting two goals and six points, earning him the event’s MVP award.
All in all, Bains’ journey highlights his resilience in the face of adversity, consistently finding ways to turn challenges into opportunities for growth and success at every level.
Today, on February 20th, Bains is set to take that growth and translate it to the highest level.
The 23-year-old received his first NHL call-up last Friday following Dakota Joshua’s hand injury. After observing two games from the press box, including Monday’s high-scoring barn burner in Minnesota, he’s expected to finally hit the ice for his official NHL debut tonight in Colorado.
“If I get this opportunity, it’ll be pretty exciting,” Bains told the media on Tuesday. “I think my dad’s coming out for the dad’s trip, so overall, it’s just a really special day.”
It’s unclear where he will slot in within the lineup, but no matter where he plays, fans can expect tons of energy with every shift and a high level of hockey IQ and playmaking ability.
According to Harpreet Pandher, the Surrey native will become the fourth Punjabi player to hit the NHL ice surface, following in the footsteps of Robin Bawa, Manny Malhotra, and Jujhar Khaira.
“Throughout my whole life, [I’m] trying to put my foot in the door at every level I get to, and it’s no different here. It’s been a heck of a journey so far, and I am excited to see where it goes.”
You can read our full preview ahead of tonght’s game by clicking here.

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