Canucks sign top prospect Thatcher Demko

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Boston College Athletics / Facebook

We can confirm that the Vancouver Canucks have signed 2014 2nd round pick Thatcher Demko to a three-year entry-level deal this afternoon.

The contract will begin next season and at this time, there are no details on the terms of the deal.

By signing this contract, Demko will forgo his senior year of NCAA eligibility. Given that he could have chosen to become a unrestricted free agent upon the conclusion of his senior year, getting him signed now avoids any possible drama.

Demko took home the Mike Richter Award, which was given to the most outstanding goaltender in Division 1 NCAA hockey.

The San Diego native had a fantastic junior season for the Boston College Eagles, where he set new career highs in games played (39), wins (27), minutes played (2361), goals against average (1.88), save percentage (0.935), and shutouts (10). He set a new Boston College single season shutout record, passing former Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider’s mark of 8.

From a team standpoint, the Eagles had a successful season, winning the Beanpot tournament championship and reaching the Frozen Four, after falling in the NCAA regionals last season. Ultimately they lost to the number one ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats in the semi-finals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YePQ1RX1UE

Getting Demko under contract is great news for the Canucks prospect system and for their future.

Given that the Canucks have Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom under contract next season, there is no pressure on Demko to be a saviour right away. With the help of veteran goaltender Richard Bachman, who is also under contract for next year, Demko will be able to work on his game and make the adjustment to pro hockey in the AHL.

Demko is regularly regarded as the best goaltending prospect outside of the NHL. What makes this extra impressive is that the 20-year-old spent the past summer recovering from double hip surgery which limited his ability to train and practice.

Earlier in the year, I spoke with well-known goaltending expert Kevin Woodley from NHL.com and InGoal magazine to get some insight into what was ailing Demko:

The human hip was not made to internally rotate on its own, so if you have any imperfections on the top of your femur, it will start to carve out cartilage or cause tearing. It got to the point where Demko had 0 degrees of internal rotation on one side.

This meant that Thatcher had no butterfly flare and so to compensate he had his knee stack on his pads built up to relieve tension and give a wider butterfly. But because of the injury he had no range of motion in terms of extending and it was hard to kick out pucks.

The Canucks knew of the injury when they drafted him but thought that he could get through the year without getting the surgery done. They didn’t think it would deteriorate enough to force the surgery, but were hoping they could wait to get it done when it made sense time-wise.

Demko had surgery on both hips to ensure that he was fully healthy. By doing so, it allows a wider butterfly, more flexibility, less fear of injury going forward and able to remove all wear and tear already there.

The fact that he was able to have the success he had with that limited range of motion he had through his hips, knowing how important that is, is remarkable.

Demko did not miss any action this season due to lingering effects from the surgery. He hit the ground running posting two separate three-game shutout streaks during late October and early November.

So even though this season was dreadful for the Canucks, there is hope for the future. In the past few weeks the Canucks have added Swedish Hockey League MVP Anton Rodin, Hobey Baker winner Thatcher Demko, and will be adding a very good player in the upcoming NHL Draft.

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Ryan Biech Hockey writer for Vancity Buzz
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