Arturs Silovs tosses a 31-save shutout in his ECHL debut, and what his reassignment could mean for the Canucks’ trade deadline plans
When Arturs Silovs made his ECHL debut on Friday, a month and a half had passed between starts for the Canucks goalie prospect. But he certainly made up for lost time.
Silovs’ 31-save performance lifted the Trois-Rivières Lions to a 1-0 overtime win over the Maine Mariners in its first game since Jan. 30. With the Lions currently holding the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division, reassigning Silovs from the American Hockey League could be the difference in booking a playoff spot.
With the Abbotsford Canucks goalie traffic jam, including Silovs, Spencer Martin and Mikey DiPietro, there was always a need to be relegated to the press box. Despite a strong start to the AHL campaign, the 20-year-old Latvian struggled throughout the streak, posting an .888 save percentage and found himself on the sidelines; Silovs hadn’t even served as a substitute for Trent Cull’s side since February 12.
It’s no secret that the Canucks have struggled to manage their goaltending prospects over the past two seasons. Michael DiPietro sadly went more than a year between games after the Canucks left him on their taxi squad for most of the 2021 season and never acquired a goaltender to take his place. The previous management regime tried to remedy the problem this year by signing veteran Martin, but his strong play for Abbotsford came at the cost of a developing prospect at Silovs.
With just ten starts all season, it was clear that Silovs needed a chance elsewhere for more playing time. Despite the extended layoff between games, it appears the former 2019 sixth-round pick n didn’t skip a beat.
31 saves, 1-0 shutout win for Arturs Silovs on his ECHL debut tonight, his first game since Jan. 30… from a trusted keeper who watched: ‘he looks incredibly smooth’
— Kevin Woodley (@KevinisInGoal) March 19, 2022
Smooth is also how AHL Nucks Harvestit’s Cody Severtson would describe Silovs play in the few starts he has seen. Talk to CanucksArmy Yesterday, Severtson compared the young goaltender’s effective movement style to that of Jacob Markstrom and felt that Silovs’ AHL struggles had more to do with the blue line in front of him.
“He looked sharp for his first few starts, then he took a high elbow to the head in one game and started to look a little less confident,” Severtson said. “I don’t think he ever looked awful, he just played behind some bad defensive efforts for a few nights which may have shaken his confidence.”
“The ECHL will be a huge advantage because the kid will actually get some action in the game.”
If Vancouver can find a way to alleviate its overabundance of options in net, that action could fall to Abbotsford. But the most important aspect of Silovs’ reassignment is what it reveals about the current trade market surrounding a Canucks goaltender: Jaroslav Halak.
With Silovs reassigned so close to the trade deadline, it seems likely that Canucks management expects their backup goaltender to stay in Vancouver last Monday at noon. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said it himself while outlining each NHL team’s deadline plans yesterday 32 Thoughts Podcast.
According to Friedman, there are Garland/LA Kings talks underway, JT Miller likely not traded, Boeser complicated, offer for Schenn could increase, Motte likely traded, interest not there for Halak. #canucks
— BuckFoston (@BuckFoston_) March 18, 2022
If Halak’s full no-move clause and $1.25 million bonus due for ten games played weren’t enough to keep the buyers away, his .883 save percentage and 2-6 record -2 certainly did the job. While it’s possible that a playoff team struggling with injuries in goal like Vegas or Toronto might be willing to take the gamble, the odds of that happening are getting increasingly slim.
Maybe Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford will hammer out a last-minute deal that sends Halak to a contender, pushes Spencer Martin into a permanent NHL backup role and frees up a spot in Abbotsford behind Mike DiPietro. But until that room becomes free, Arturs Silovs will stay in Trois-Rivières, getting the starts he badly needs.