Nothing better than creating a little competition, and that’s exactly the challenge the Vancouver Canucks hope to provide their goaltenders come training camp. Aside from franchise number-one Thatcher Demko, you don’t want anyone thinking they have a job without a battle, and that includes presumed back-up at the NHL level Spencer Martin.
Cue Collin Delia. Call him a piece of insurance, maybe more, he’s only making $12,000 less than Martin next season, not that that matters so much, but at least another piece to the depth puzzle at an affordable $750,000. Maybe more than anything he provides a challenge for Michael DiPietro and Arturs Silovs at the Abbotsford Canucks level.
“You want to have internal competition with all positions in the organization and when he was available he gives us competition for the back-up position, but also he’s a good player,” Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin said after signing Delia on Wednesday. “Whoever goes down to Abbotsford, to have a good depth guy down there.”
There were a lot of assumptions made when then Canucks GM Jim Benning signed Jaroslav Halak to a one-year contract to back-up Demko before last season. One, that the Vancouver Canucks were a playoff team that would be in contention from the start of the season with its somewhat overhauled roster, and two, that veteran Halak would be the perfect compliment to the young stalwart Demko.
The second half of that equation took a tumble when the first part began to fall apart. Despite new head coach Bruce Boudreau and the squad’s best efforts, the season was essentially over by December 1st. And by the way, it clearly wasn’t the fault of the goaltenders.
This off-season, thus far, things aren’t quite as assured. Despite Martin’s excellent NHL performances, there’s no guarantees that a 27-year-old with nine career NHL games of experience is going to rule the back-up roost. Wait until if-and-when the game starts to play with his head; if he has a break in confidence.
Jeepers, the same could be said for Demko. No? Outrage!? Guess again. Look around the league.
But let’s not go there. Healthy and self-assured, let’s assume the big fella keeps it together and leads the way. That means that slots 2 through 4 need to be competitive, if not improved over the next two months before training camp.
By the way part-two, Halak signed with the New York Rangers last week, slated to be Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin’s back-up.