About ten days ago the NHL Network in the US plopped Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes in the number-12 ranking among NHL defenceman overall. This week, it’s Thatcher Demko, Vancouver’s netminder extraordinaire, rated at number-six out of the 32 regulars.
Got a problem with that?
Maybe. From our standpoint, having Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders ranked ahead of Demko wasn’t nearly as startling as having Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins ranked six spots ahead of Hughes on the blueline. And when you get right down to it, Sorokin ranked ahead of Demko shouldn’t be that startling, other than the fact a lot of Vancouver Canucks fans have never heard of him.
The Islanders stunk and yes they did take a D-first approach to whatever it was they were doing, but Sorokin did lead the NHL in shut-outs with seven and dragged home a 2.42 goals against average. Demko just as easily could have hopped over him into the five slot given the performance he put in for a Canucks team that really struggled the first two months of last season.
Demko finished with a .915 save percentage and a goals against average at 2.72. There were ten NHL regulars with higher save percentages.
No problem having ‘Vassy’, Andre Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning number one among goalies, he’s earned it consistently, with Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers ranked second. Also interchangeable.
Former Canucks and current Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom and Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators were the other two Vezina finalists and they’re both ranked ahead of Demko in this preseason TV poll.
By the way, side note, how ridiculously fortunate have the Predators been with their goaltending? Compared to let’s say, the Philadelphia Flyers for example. It’s like night and day. Really, the Predators are the envy of most NHL clubs the last decade-and-a-half in terms of consistency.
From Pekka Rinne to Saros seamlessly. Before Saros took over last season and played 67 games following Rinne’s retirement, those two guys played all but five total games over the previous five seasons, and Rinne was the man starting back in 2008.
Does it bug anyone that the goalie that moved along from Vancouver was ranked 4th?
Here was that network’s top defencemen last from August 28th. How about Abbotsford native Devon Toews jumping in there at number-8? Yes, he won a Stanley Cup but is he really a better defenceman than Hughes? There’s Letang at six.
One of VHN’s forthcoming predictions for this season is that Demko will be a Vezina finalist. In the meantime, being part of the dandy dozen up top isn’t all bad.