In the final Vancouver Canucks Prospects Report of the 2022-23 season, Arturs Silovs was a superstar for Team Latvia at the 2023 World Championship and walked away with a bronze medal and a bunch of other hardware. Meanwhile, Connor Lockhart is taking part in the Memorial Cup tournament in Kamloops after his Peterborough Petes won the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) championship over the London Knights.
Silovs a Hero For His Country at the World Championship
After a solid season in the American Hockey League with Abbotsford and a few starts in Vancouver, Silovs was named to Team Latvia for the 2023 World Championship in Tampere, Finland, and Riga, Latvia. Usually, Latvia isn’t given the best odds to win games at these tournaments, but they surprised everybody and now have a bronze medal hanging around their necks.
Silovs was a huge part of the victory too, as he took over the starting job early on and ended the tournament with a lot of hardware including Best Goaltender, Most Valuable Player, and Top-3 Player on Team. He was also named to the All-Star Team. What made it sweeter was that Latvia won it as one of the host countries. I’m sure there will be partying in the streets of Riga for the foreseeable future.
The 2022-23 season might turn out to be Silovs’ coming-out party as he not only became one of the Canucks’ top prospects and possibly the heir apparent to Thatcher Demko, but he also became a hero for his country. Latvia had never won a medal at the World Championship until Sunday, and even though it was only a bronze, in their mind it was gold. As Latvia’s bench boss exclaimed after the game, “For us, this is like a small gold medal.”
Silovs was brilliant throughout the preliminary and playoff rounds, finishing with a 2.20 goals-against average (GAA), a .921 save percentage (SV%), and a 7-3 record. He and his team also upset high-powered nations like Sweden and the United States, which featured prominent NHLers – including teammate Conor Garland – on their rosters. They even held their own in the semi-final against Team Canada, scoring first and eventually dropping a tight 4-2 game.
While beating Team USA for the bronze medal was the ultimate high for Silovs, his best performance came in the quarterfinal against Sweden where he made 40 saves and only allowed one goal for a .976 SV%. Going into the semifinal against Canada, he had won his last six starts and only gave up 10 goals. No wonder he won the Best Goaltender Award and MVP. He was definitely both of those things throughout the 2023 World Championship.
With all the accolades including two MVP awards (one at the World Championship and one in Abbotsford) under his belt, Silovs will be going into the offseason with a ton of confidence. While a lot of fans have already anointed him as the backup to Demko next season, it probably would be better for his development to start the majority of the games up the freeway in Abbotsford. The “Arty Party” should remain there for the time being to give him the best chance of success in the NHL. As we all know, goalies take a long time to develop, and with a stable starter like Demko in Vancouver and a capable backup in Spencer Martin signed for 2023-24, there’s no need to rush the former sixth-round pick.
Lockhart Playing in the Memorial Cup Tournament
The only Canucks prospect still playing hockey right now is 2021 sixth-round pick Connor Lockhart. The Petes’ magical playoff run ended in an OHL championship last Sunday (May 21) as they beat the Knights 2-1 in Game 6. Lockhart had a goal and three points in the series and finished the OHL Playoffs with seven goals and 16 points in 23 games. This after a regular season that saw him hit career highs in goals (29), assists (50), and points (79).
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Now Lockhart is competing in the Memorial Cup tournament in Kamloops where his team has yet to win a game, dropping 6-3 and 10-2 decisions to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Kamloops Blazers respectively. They will play their final game of the round-robin on Tuesday when they face off against the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) champion Quebec Remparts. Lockhart hasn’t recorded a point in two games but has fired seven shots on goal.
As for his future with the Canucks, that is still up in the air. We will find out soon enough, though, as they have until June 1 to offer him an entry-level contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. As of this writing, that is only two days away. With his success this season, I’m not sure why it’s going down to the wire. Regardless, if the Canucks don’t sign him, I’m sure another team will. Maybe Abbotsford will simply sign him to an AHL deal?
With that, there’s another Canucks Prospect Report in the books. Stay tuned for the preseason where we will have a bunch of new prospects to track as the 2023 NHL Draft will inevitably add more bodies to the pipeline. Until then, enjoy the offseason Canucks fans!