Why the Vancouver Canucks should absolutely not trade Thatcher Demko

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
1 year ago
With the Vancouver Canucks already at the bottom of the standings and falling further with every game, the displeasure from the fanbase is growing. We’ve now reached a point where the Canucks have dug themselves a massive hole and will need to play spectacular hockey just to earn the right to a likely first-round playoff exit.
These continued struggles have led the Vancouver fanbase to become more vocal in its acceptance of a rebuild. It’s also forcing management to recognize the reality of the situation and work towards making the long-term changes required. With every passing day, it seems more likely that the Canucks are going to sell off a number of core pieces and reattempt this failed “retool” in a more serious manner.
This has led to lots of theories on which players are available and which are untouchable for this new core. With reports coming out constantly about teams checking in with the Canucks for trades, it seems as if every young player on the team has had teams check in on their availability. That includes goalie Thatcher Demko, a player that seemed very untouchable just a few months ago.
Demko has proven himself in the past to be one of the NHL’s brightest young goaltenders but has had a tough start to this season. His reasonable contract means that he would be a great get for a contender that is looking for help in the crease. Would trading Demko be the exact move that the Canucks need to prove that they’re serious about a rebuild?

Thatcher Demko’s struggles this season 

Through 11 starts this season, Thatcher Demko’s numbers have been terrible. It can be debated how much of the responsibility for those numbers rests on his shoulders compared to the weak Canucks’ team defence, but his stats are still bad. No matter which way you put it, Demko has been severely underperforming and he does need to shoulder at least some of the blame.
His 4.02 GAA and .879 save percentage are not just bad, they’re among the worst in the league for starting goalies. Goaltending can be fickle and while there has been speculation that Demko isn’t at 100% health-wise, this cold streak has poked some holes in Demko’s candidacy as the NHL’s next big goalie superstar.
You can see that the advanced metrics haven’t been any more kind to Demko. They haven’t let him off the hook in any way and have him among the league’s worst.
With the development and steady play of Spencer Martin, the Canucks have shown that they have a remarkable ability to develop goaltenders. Much of that is likely due to wizard goalie coach Ian Clark, yet it means that the franchise is less reliant on any one goalie. This isn’t to say that the Canucks could easily find another goalie of Demko’s caliber but that they could likely identify a solid replacement option.
These early season struggles have slightly dampened Demko’s image in Vancouver, yet it’s not a large enough sample size to draw any real conclusions from. This means that his trade value should still be quite high. At 26 years old and with a cap hit of $5 million, he can easily slot into the big-picture plans for any franchise. That is worth quite a bit, and the Canucks could likely recoup at least a strong draft pick or solid prospect, if not both, in return.

Why Thatcher Demko shouldn’t be moved

Despite the possibility of a good return and the chance to announce a full commitment to a proper rebuild, trading Thatcher Demko would be a mistake. He is far from the problem with the current Canucks roster. Not only that, but rushing to trade your franchise goalie is a recipe for disaster. If the Canucks are going to commit to doing this properly, the first players to go need to be the veterans and the bloated contracts.
By cutting the fat, even if there isn’t much coming back in return, the Canucks can then build around core pieces like Demko. He’s on a very team-friendly deal and is cap controlled for another three seasons after this one. Contracts like this one are what the Canucks need more of, not what they need to get rid of.
Demko has bailed the Canucks out on many occasions over the past few years. It’s time for the Canucks to do the same and help him out while he’s not at the top of his game. If that means suffering through some short-term pain to build a winner in the long term, so be it. Demko’s contract means that he won’t be going anywhere without the Canucks deciding.
Heading into a full rebuild is a very legitimate possibility, but the Canucks can do that with players like Demko still on the roster. There is no point in rushing to trade a franchise goalie for assets when there is no greater plan in action. With time, he will return to form, and even if he’s backstopping a “rebuilding” team for the next 2-3 years, the results can’t be much worse than what the Canucks are experiencing right now.

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