Vancouver Canucks sign European free agent goaltender Nikita Tolopilo
10 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks continue to add to their organizational depth via the NCAA and European free agent route.
After signing NCAA centre Max Sasson, defenceman Andy Caroll — both of whom made their pro hockey debuts last night with the Abbotsford Canucks — along with defenceman Akito Hirose, general manager Patrik Allvin announced Friday morning that the club has signed goaltender Nikita Tolopilo out of Europe.
A 6’6 goaltender currently playing in Sweden’s second-tier Allsvenskan league, Tolopilo has posted a .924 save percentage through 45 games with Södertälje SK this season. Prior to that, the soon-to-be 23-year-old Belarussian played two seasons in the KHL with Dinamo Minsk, where he posted a save percentage below .900.
Tolopilo joins an organization goaltending depth chart featuring Spencer Martin and Arturs Silovs ahead of him at the AHL level, and Thatcher Demko and Collin Delia at the NHL level.
Presumably, the club plans to have Martin backup Demko at the NHL level again next year, as Delia is a pending UFA and Arturs Silovs continues to develop in the AHL. Silovs had an NHL audition this season, and amassed a 3-2 record with a .908 save percentage through his five starts with the big club.
As CanucksArmy’s resident goalie guy — a title I share proudly with Lachlan Irvine — I’m hoping to chat with Canucks goaltending coach Ian Clark soon about what he and the organization see in Tolopilo. I’m also hoping to dive further into some tape to find out for myself.
Upon first glance, Tolopilo fits the Canucks’ typical bill for what they like to see in goaltending prospects: big, with raw athletic ability, and maybe not the most technically sound goaltender as of yet. This is a similar profile to that of Arturs Silovs, Aku Koskenvuo, and Ty Young, all goaltenders the Canucks very much so believe in.
Clark and I had a fascinating chat about his “wild horse” philosophy of targeting young goaltenders, where Clark joked that the Canucks can teach a goaltender technique “in a weekend”, and you can read that story by clicking here!
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