DiPietro was the Canucks’ third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. When he was drafted, the knock on him was that he was slightly undersized, given that the prototypical goalie of today is much taller. However, the word is that he makes himself look bigger because he’s good at coming out of the crease to cut down angles.
On the plus side, DiPietro is an excellent skater with the ability to move quickly in and out of his net. He’s aggressive and athletic with good rebound control. He’s also good at deflecting pucks into the corners. He plays a square-up style, has puck-tracking ability, and his lateral movement allows him to quickly be in position before the puck arrives. His strong legs help him to push side to side easily.
Since being drafted, his goaltending skills have taken him on a merry-go-round of hockey experiences. He played for the Windsor Spitfires before he was traded to the 67’s. He was on Team OHL as part of the Canada/Russia Series.
Then he had a fantastic series for Team Canada in Jan. 2019 at the World Junior Championships in Vancouver. However, Team Canada was eliminated in overtime by Team Finland in the Quarter Finals when, ironically, Canucks prospect Toni Utunen’s shot deflected over DiPietro for the game-winner.
The game reviewer noted: “Michael DiPietro (Amherstburg, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) was absolutely spectacular in a 32-save performance, but Canada’s National Junior Team saw its run at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship end Wednesday with a 2-1 overtime loss to Finland in the quarter-finals.”
The Ill-Fated Feb. 11th Game
Most Canucks fans know, DiPietro was called-up in February to the Canucks as an emergency backup goalie. Basically, he was to have a great view from the bench as Jacob Markstrom played. But, in a perfect storm of what might go wrong, Markstrom was injured in practice and DiPietro made an emergency start.
Although DiPietro later called it a “dream come true,” his NHL debut was a 7-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks. He then headed back to the 67’s to finish the regular season. And, what a season it has been.
After that Feb. 11 game, many Canucks fans wondered if DiPietro’s confidence might flag. Obviously, it hasn’t given his perfect postseason record with the 67’s. In fact, that he could call a 7-2 loss a “dream come true” might offer some insight into how he thinks. He seems like the kind of young man who sees the big picture and knows that, as an NHL goalie, you sometimes win and sometimes lose. And, even in great NHL careers, a goalie has lots of both winning and losing.
Perhaps his attitude of shrugging off the tough losses and keeping his focus is what makes DiPietro a strong prospect. He seems to keep his head in the game without getting rattled.
Why the Canucks Like DiPietro
As Biech’s article reminds us, during the 2017 Memorial Cup, DiPietro’s Windsor Spitfires were only invited because they were the host team. They hadn’t won their league title. However, DiPietro’s goaltending led them to four straight victories.
The Memorial Cup website reported, “Seventeen-year-old goaltender Michael DiPietro earned the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s most outstanding goaltender. The native of nearby Amherstburg, Ont. went 4-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.”
DiPietro’s OHL Record
On March 19, the OHL announced its award winners, and the 67’s duo of Cedrick Andree and DiPietro won the Dave Pinkney Trophy (for Lowest Team Goals Against). The pair only gave up 183 goals for the 2018-19 OHL season and finished first and second among league leaders in goals-against-average. DiPietro had a 2.40 GAA and Andree a 2.48 GAA.
Together, these young goalies helped the 67’s set a franchise record of 106 points (in 68 games, the team had a 50-12-4-2 record) and the team won their fourth Hamilton Spectator Trophy as regular season champions.
During the season, 19-year-old DiPietro had a record of 12-4-0. He made OHL history by setting the all-time career shutout record with 17. In 2018, he was awarded Goaltender of the Year.
What’s Next for DiPietro?
Currently, DiPietro’s 67’s wait to see whether they’ll face the Guelph Storm or the Saginaw Spirit for the OHL title. Look for him to play well. It has been a season in which DiPietro has travelled extensively. But, wherever he’s played, he has been dominant.
The Canucks selected DiPietro in the same 2017 Draft where they choose Elias Pettersson. He looks to be a potential gem in the Canucks system, and perhaps one day Canucks fans will see him staring down the Sharks yet again. If DiPietro becomes a star NHL goalie, what an amazing draft year 2017 would be for the Canucks.