Training camp is less than a week away, and the Vancouver Canucks are making plans for the beginning of the season. Who will make the team, especially filling out the bottom six of the roster? Are any prospects likely to make the team?
What new goalie-helmet art form has Thatcher Demko revealed for this season? Finally, is this the season the promising but enigmatic Nikolay Goldobin might finally pull his game together?
In this post, I will try to cover some of this news.
Item One: Zack MacEwen Trained with Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon
A recent tweet reported that the young Canucks forward Zack MacEwen had worked out with both NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon during the offseason in Nova Scotia. Both Crosby and MacKinnon return home to Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, during the summer. Fellow Maritimer MacEwen, from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, joined them to prepare for the coming season.
As my THW colleague Shane Wilson reported in a recent Canucks’ post, MacEwen has a good chance to crack the team’s roster. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he seems to have both the size and skill to be an impact player. He’s also willing, if need be, to drop the gloves to protect a teammate. He showed that willingness during his brief, four-game stint with the big team last season where he more than held his own in a fight with San Jose Sharks forward Barclay Goodrow in a game last February.
As the tweet noted, this will likely be a competitive training camp for the Canucks. Although the group of top-six forwards currently seems pretty stable, the bottom-six is wide open. Training camp will reveal who might surprise and be on the opening-day roster.
Item Two: Canucks Announce Training Camp Details
The Canucks announced that daily on-ice, training-camp sessions would begin on Friday, Sept. 13 at 9 am at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. For fans interested in picking up tickets for those training camp sessions, those tickets became available to the public on Friday, Sept. 6.
As a highlight of the training camp schedule, an inter-squad, preseason game will be held on Monday, Sept. 16, at 7 pm.
Item Three: Thatcher Demko Reveals His New Masks
Because the movie Semi-Pro, staring Will Ferrell, is one of Demko’s favorite movies, he’s kept his tradition of creating Farrell-inspired masks as his trademark. After Friday’s informal, player-organized skate at Rogers Arena last week, Demko noted that, “I’ve seen it (the movie Semi-Pro) too many times to count. I wanted to keep the Will Ferrell tradition going and Jackie Moon was next up. I wanted to put his ELE ‘Everybody
For fans who don’t know the movie Semi-Pro, the 2008 comedy stars Ferrell, who plays basketball star Jackie Moon, the owner, coach, and player of the fictitious American Basketball Association’s Flint Michigan Tropics.
This season is the third time Demko has used a Ferrell character on the back plate of his mask. Prior characters were Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy and Step Brothers Brennan Huff and Dale Doback. In addition to these characters, Demko has also included Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, earthquakes, storms, and horses and a skeleton of Johnny Canuck.
Demko, who worked with Swedish goalie-mask artist Dave Gunnarsson (DaveArt Studios) on the design, has been beyond artistic with his masks. In the past, he’s included Jack Black (from Nacho Libre) and Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles (from the Trailer Park Boys). Give Demko credit, he’s covered all the countries of North America with Ferrell’s movies (USA), Black’s Nacho Libre (Mexico), and Trailer Park Boys (Canada).
As Demko rhetorically asked, “Why not have some fun with it?” He admits he’s already in the planning stages of his next mask.
Item Four: Canucks Re-Sign Nikolay Goldobin
Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning announced late this week that the the team had re-signed forward Nikolay Goldobin to a one-year, one-way contract worth $900,000. This is the 23-year-old Goldobin’s third season with Canucks. During the 2018-19 season, he recorded a career-high 63 games played. He also had highs with 7 goals and 20 assists, for 27 points, which was seventh on the team. His nine power-play points ranked fifth.
Although Goldobin is highly talented, he’s also a frustration for Canucks fans. He hasn’t been able to pull his game together yet. He shows flashes of huge potential, with equal periods of ineffective play where he seems lost on the ice. Perhaps this might be a breakout season? If so, he’d be a great boost to the team’s chances for a playoff berth.
Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning noted, “Nikolay is a gifted offensive player who has shown good chemistry with some of our other younger players and … has taken steps to round out his game.” He also said that the team was, “excited to see continued improvement from him this season.”
When might restricted free agent Brock Boeser sign? If he were on the roster, the Canucks’ plans for the season could really begin to take shape. Most fans are entering the season with a sense of optimism that this might be the year the team gets over the hump and into the playoffs. If so, that would the next successful step in the team’s rebuild.