The Vancouver Canucks drafted Michael DiPietro in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and the 18-year-old has not disappointed. The past week has been huge for DiPietro’s career and his already-impressive hockey resume has been bolstered even further, making some serious waves in the hockey world.
DiPietro and Team Canada
Less than half a year ago, DiPietro was held off of Canada’s World Junior Championship team, and it was definitely a stumble in his growth, but the Amherstburg, Ontario product didn’t let it slow him down too much — last week, DiPietro was called to play for Canada in the World Hockey Championships, which is nothing short of a rarity for somebody his age.
“It’s already in the past, but it is funny,” DiPietro told the Windsor Star. “Cut from the world junior team, but I get invited here. I’m super excited to get the invite.”
With that being said, Dipietro is still eligible to compete in the WJC next year and is a heavy favourite to take the number-one goaltending position. Next season is a long way away, and his eyes are currently focused on the upcoming WHC, which hits the ice May 4 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
It’s important to note DiPietro’s aforementioned youth and the fact that he’s still a junior player, residing with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires — he’s the backbone of the team, which is in the midst of a rebuild, much like his draft team.
DiPietro’s OHL Dominance
DiPietro’s invite to Canada’s WHC squad can be chalked up to his stellar play with the Spitfires in the highly-skilled ‘O’. Despite the team gearing down for a rebuild, DiPietro still managed to keep his team competitive and earn them a playoff-berth — the team had a short six-game stint in the post-season, but still, it was an impressive season for the young goalie.
In fact, the entire league took notice of his stellar play. With a 2.79 GAA, .910 SV%, and 29 wins on the season with the previously mentioned lackluster team in front of him, the OHL named DiPietro the OHL goalie of the year.
DiPietro prides himself on hard work and a constant desire to propel his career forward — something guys on the Canucks are noticing.
“I have practiced with him four or five times. He’s really excited. He’s such a hard worker, always trying to get better; as a Canucks draft pick, it is exciting to watch him,” Bo Horvat told Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet-650.
And of course, Spitfires personnel have also been very impressed with the way DiPietro carries himself on and off the ice. Spitfires head coach Trevor Letowski says there was nobody more deserving for the goalie-of-the-year award and couldn’t say enough positive things about his youthful netminder.
“Even though he doesn’t wear a letter, he’s the leader of our team. He cares about his teammates, his community and doing things the right way. We’re all so proud of him,” Letowski told the Vancouver Courier.
The praise of his game on the ice is rivaled by the recognition of his contributions to the Windsor community — the Spitfires hand out ‘Extra Mile Awards’ to players who contribute to community-based events, and guess who took home two. To the Canucks’ organization, those ‘Extra Mile Awards’ are almost as, if not equally as important as that goalie of the year award. His skill is evident, but strong character is something that’s highly valued in Vancouver. Just ask former Canucks goalie and captain Roberto Luongo, who found the Vancouver media pressure to be too much.
DiPietro and the Canucks
Despite how great he’s been, DiPietro still has quite a mountain in front of him in terms of cracking the Canucks’ roster. His development is still in an infantile stage and to make it to the pros, he’ll have to put in some serious work — something he’s quite comfortable doing.
With Jacob Markstrom still growing and Thatcher Demko above him on the ladder, the competition is fierce in the Canucks’ goaltending pool. With that being said, competing in the WHC and likely the WJC will be huge steps in his progression as a player and a person.
Patience is key when it comes to goalies and DiPietro is no exception. Another few years and he’ll be in some serious talks of making the jump to the realm of professional hockey.
What do you think about DiPietro’s development? How do you think he’ll do on the bigger stage, under the brighter lights? Let us know in the comments below!
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.