Silovs Performance at World’s Sparks Thoughts About the Canucks Goalie Situation

By: Brayden Fengler / May 27, 2023  

While many Canucks are well into vacation mode at this point in May, thanks to the IIHF World Championship some are still putting in a hard day’s work on the ice. Conor Garland joined the American team during this tournament, earning eight points in nine games. Additionally, Tyler Myers laced up for Canada and has kept himself at a respectable +6 during the tournament, in addition to netting himself one goal.

The Canuck that most recently stole the spotlight during the tournament however was Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs. Siloves played only five games for the main club last season, as the Canucks primary focus for him last season was development in the AHL. Silovs at 22 years old is the youngest goalie in active circulation within the Canucks system, so the Canucks spent most of last season continuing his development in the minors and allowing their late 20’s aged goalies in Spencer Martin and Later Colin Delia tend the pipes for Vancouver during Demko’s nights off.

During Silovs five NHL contests last year, the young tendy walked away with the bulk of the wins, securing three. During those stretches of NHL games, Silovs carried a .908 save percentage and a GAA of 2.75. Those numbers are technically the best of any Canucks goalie who stepped foot in the crease last season, although Silovs sample size of games was significantly smaller than the other three Canucks goaltenders. However, it is at least encouraging to see that even within a small sample of five NHL games, Silovs held his own and maintained respectable numbers that hint at the possibility of continued NHL-worth performances.

So what did SIlovs do in late May during this IIHF tournament that has prompted early consideration of his placement within the Canucks organization next year? Well, hold onto your seats, you’ll never believe this one – it has to do with stopping pucks.

Silovs recently impressed during an elimination game against Sweeden, a team that in most IIHF competitions, Latvia has no business contending with. During this contest, Silovs was riddled with shots, facing a total of 41 through three periods of play. Artus only ever let one shot past him, in the form of a Timothy Liljegren goal, but even with that notch on the scoreboard, the Canucks goalie still left the game with a .975 same percentage and helped earn his team a 3-1 victory over the powerhouse that is Sweeden.

Silovs excellent performance through this tournament has turned heads and put the thought in the hearts of many Canucks fans that maybe the team is about to have a reliable and durable second-stringer next year. Or even best case scenario a young buck that may challenge Demko for his starting role. That last statement seems like a bit of a fantasy considering we can count on one hand the number of NHL games he played last season. Although the IIHF Championship isn’t necessarily a collection of all the best players in the world, it’s fast-paced hockey that Silovs has looked to handle with ease.

Silovs highlights alone are impressive. They demonstrate a sampling of everything you hope to see in a budding NHL prospect. The ability to track the puck through traffic, and have the material mobility to make a save that is the difference of a few inches. This is in addition to his proven ability throughout the tournament to track and shut down the puck during more individual efforts from the opposing team.

Again, a few saves in a summer hockey tournament does not lock him into the Canucks lineup next season, but Silovs is sure to continue to build himself a compelling case.

During Canucks GM Patrick Allvin’s end-of-season press conference, Allvin made it clear that he does not anticipate the team going out and spending a large amount of money on a brand-new backup goalie for Thatcher Demko. Like for many of the Canucks problems, Allvin seems inclined to look inwards, and hopefully find a solution within their roasters at both ends of Highway 1.

If this remains the case, and the Canucks do not move to track down yet another veteran goalie to back up Demko, then Silvos may be playing himself right into a consistent NHL job.

Spencer Martin struggled during his 20-odd games with the Canucks this season, and at age 27 spent 16 games in net for the Abbotsford Canucks, and backed up Silovs the rest of his time in Abby. Collin Delia, who finished the season as Demko’s main backup, was able to secure himself just about as many wins as Spencer Martin did, and in nine fewer games. However, his numbers, although respectable, by no means locked him in as Demko’s permanent backup, and at 28 years old Delia just isn’t the Canucks’ future.

At the end of March, the Canucks did sign 23-year-old Belarus goaltender Nikita Tolopilo, so with that signing, Silvos is no longer the only credible goalie prospect with a low second number to his age. However, Tolopilo has never played an NHL game to this point in his career, spending his prior professional years in the KHL and Swedish Hockey Allsvenskan league. Allvin has so far been true to his word and has not gone out and signed a big-name veteran goalie for the Canucks. Instead, he continues to build out positional depth across the franchise. This all points to Silovs having a chance to make a big splash next year, and if he did, that would certainly solve at least one of the Canucks many problems.