Canucks of Tomorrow is assessing every prospect in the Vancouver Canucks system and what they are projecting to be in the future. We’ll be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of their game, as well as what the future holds for them if and when they advance through the Vancouver organization. Today, we feature Arturs Silovs.
How Acquired: 2019 NHL Draft, 6th-round, 156th-overall
2021-22 Stats: (GP-W-L-OTL) 10-3-6-0, 3.10 GAA, .888 Save% (with AHL Abbotsford), 10-6-3-1, 2.37, .920 % (with ECHL Trois Rivieres)
Contract Status: Two seasons remaining on a two-way NHL/minor league deal.
Anticipated 2022-23 Team: ECHL Loaner*
When you have a 26-year-old Thatcher Demko manning your big league crease and a hopefully a very reliable back-up in Spencer Martin catching a bit of lightning in a bottle, one might legitimately ask the question, ‘why are we talking about a goalie prospect?’
Well, if you’ve been watching the National Hockey League over the last fifty years you’ve probably come to realize there are no guarantees between the pipes regardless of how solid your situation appears to be at the time. For purposes of time and space, to use a hockey term, I’ll spare you the list, but for every Martin Brodeur there’s another three to thirty guys who don’t last that long.
It’s why clubs always try to keep the goaltending cupboard stocked, because one simply never knows.
In the case of Silovs, he’s only 21-years-old, so by the time he potentially develops into an NHL stalwart, he might be competing with a 30-year-old Demko. Or someone gets too expensive, or someone gets hurt, etc., etc.
Silovs is a legitimate prospect. Our reporter pal Kevin Woodley at NHL.com and InGoal Magazine sums him up this way:
“In Silovs I think you see a lot of the raw skills that we’ve heard (Vancouver Canucks Head Goaltending Coach) Ian Clark talk about wanting in his goalies in terms of athleticism, size and flexibility — or ‘length’ as he calls it — as well as incredible quickness in his movements,” Woodley stated. “There’s also a strong work ethic that has allowed Arturs to quickly add a stabilizing technical foundation that should provide increased consistency without losing those more innate skills that they hope will be separators the same way they have been for Demko and Jacob Markstrom.”
Silovs joins a Latvian trend, one of a handful of successful NHL goalies or prospects out of the small Baltic country of 1.9-million people, most of them hockey fans. It started with Artürs Irbe in the 1990’s and more recently complimented by 28-year-old Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the late Matiss Kivlenieks who played in that same organization.
Step one, as mentioned, size. You can’t teach it. Silovs is 6-foot-3 and almost 220-pounds. Sounds a bit heavy? As pointed out, he carries it well and with great athleticism. He might still be growing.
He developed in juniors in both Latvia and Russia and represented his country on a pretty big stage at the World Junior Under-18’s in 2019 and then on a bigger stage at the senior men’s World Championship this past spring. He put up sterling numbers (1.22 GAA and .952 Save%) but didn’t get much offensive support and finished 2-and-2, splitting duties with and outperforming Merzlikins.
Along the way he acclimated to the North American game by playing the 2019-’20 season with the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League.
*Silovs will compete for a job in Abbotsford. The Vancouver Canucks signed Collin Delia from the Blackhawks to provide veteran, although not wildly experienced, goaltending at the AHL level. Michael DiPietro will also be putting forth his best. It’s a wide open competition.
If both older guys stick, Silovs could end up back in the ECHL. If he shines, the organization will have a decision to make and Silovs could end up in the Fraser Valley.
There’s also a chance someone, probably not Silovs, could be moved before camp.