The Vancouver Canucks have their goaltender back. After nearly three months, Thatcher Demko has been activated from injured reserve. Arturs Silovs, who was up in his absence, has been reassigned to the AHL.
It hasn’t been a good season for the Canucks, but things might not have been so bad had Demko not been injured 15 games into the year. The 27-year-old goaltender was struggling but has shown in the past an ability to carry poor performances from his teammates and turn them into wins. Last season, he appeared in 64 games and, with largely the same defensive group, posted a .914 save percentage.
That earned him a seventh-place Vezina finish and expectations that Demko would become one of the best goaltenders in the league. His five-year, $25MM contract certainly was paying him to be a reliable starter, and for the Canucks to go anywhere, they needed him to lead the way.
Now, after a brutal season that has seen captain Bo Horvat dealt away, head coach Bruce Boudreau fired, and the Canucks win just 23 of 59 games, Demko’s return is too little, too late. He now must face the very real possibility of a trade, if the team decides that the “major surgery” president Jim Rutherford referenced includes the goaltending position.
Getting back on the ice is the only way forward for Demko, regardless of where his future takes him. There’s still reason to believe he can be the goaltender he was through the first few years of his career, and a healthy stretch run would go far in building his confidence back up. The Canucks are back in action tonight against the Dallas Stars, where Demko is a game-time decision.