Canucks sign top prospect Thatcher Demko. When will we see him in the NHL?

Matt Larkin
Thatcher Demko. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Take a deep breath, Vancouver Canucks fans. Thatcher Demko did not pull a Jimmy Vesey.

Goaltender Demko, 20, officially signed with the team that drafted him Wednesday, as announced by the Canucks. He’s now a professional hockey player and will forego his senior year at Boston College.

The move makes sense for Demko, who has nothing left to prove at the NCAA level. He went 27-8-4 with a 1.88 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and 10 shutouts this season. That latter stat broke a school record set by Canucks alumnus Cory Schneider in 2005-06 and stands as the second-highest total ever for a college goalie in a single season.

Demko helped Boston College reach the Frozen Four and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, a.k.a hockey’s Heisman Trophy. Demko even won the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top college netminder. He acquitted himself well starting for Team USA at the 2015 world juniors, posting a .934 SP, and he’s cracked USA’s 2016 World Championship roster, following the recent footsteps of Yankee netminders John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck. Demko really needs a new challenge, and turning pro is exactly that.

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Canucks, Blackhawks being sued by fans as result of separate in-arena incidents

Jared Clinton
Rogers Arena (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks are both facing lawsuits in separate in-arena incidents that have taken place over the past two seasons.

CTV News Vancouver reported Thursday that the Canucks are being taken to court by a fan, Wayne Chi, who was struck by a puck two years ago during a game at Rogers Arena against the Anaheim Ducks on April 7, 2014. According to CTV, Chi suffered “serious injuries to his forehead, neck and back, as well as headaches, nausea and dizziness,” and he’s still battling symptoms from the injury to this day.

“He wants some kind of compensation for the fact that he did suffer an injury,” Chi’s lawyer, Manjot Hallen, told CTV. ”When you go to a hockey game, there should be an expectation that you’re not going to suffer an injury.” Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Auston Matthews is ready for the worlds

Auston Matthews (Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The playoffs have certainly not disappointed at the prospect level so far. The Frozen Four had numerous overtimes and now the field is set for the final weekend, with North Dakota battling Denver and Boston College taking on Quinnipiac. In major junior, it’s been just as crazy, with big upsets and a couple other underdogs taking the favorites down to the wire – Kelowna finally iced Kamloops, while Barrie and Mississauga needed seven games to determine a winner. We’re also nearing the world under-18s in North Dakota, so look for more info on that in the near future. Here’s what’s going on in the world of prospects:

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Maple Leafs’ dozen debutants makes this team the greenest ever

Tobias Lindberg  (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When Tobias Lindberg steps on the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Buffalo Sabres tonight, he’ll be part of a team record that hasn’t been matched in almost 100 years.

Lindberg, one of the prospects acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Dion Phaneuf trade, will become the 12th player to make his NHL debut for the Leafs this season, joining William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Byron Froese, Nikita Soshnikov, Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen, Rinat Valiev, Frederik Gauthier, Garret Sparks and Viktor Loov. It’s actually 13 if you include goalie Antoine Bibeau, who dressed as a backup for 11 games this season, but didn’t see any action.

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No Canadian teams will make the playoffs, but everybody should relax about it

Goaltending hurt Calgary (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s official: no Canadian NHL teams will be making the playoffs this season. We knew this in our hearts for at least a month, but now it’s written in stone. And other than the Rogers TV execs trying to remember which of their molars contains the cyanide capsule, there’s no need to worry if you’re a Canadian.

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Update: Virtanen suspended two games for ‘late, forceful, blindside’ hit on Polak

Jared Clinton
Jake Virtanen checks Roman Polak (via Sportsnet/YouTube)

Jake Virtanen’s rookie campaign hasn’t been easy.

The 19-year-old winger has had to watch from the sidelines due to injury and as a healthy scratch, he has been released to play at the World Junior Championship in order to get some playing time and when he has suited up for the Canucks, he isn’t playing more than third- or fourth-line minutes. And now Virtanen’s rookie season could see him have his first run-in with the Department of Player Safety.

Virtanen was kicked out of Vancouver’s Tuesday evening tilt with San Jose when he levelled Sharks defenseman Roman Polak with a late, hard check early in the second period. The hit, which came on an unsuspecting Polak, saw Virtanen handed down a major for interference and a game misconduct. After being given the jolt from Virtanen, Polak remained on the ice but was eventually able to collect himself, skate off under his own power and head to the dressing room: Read more

Ranking all seven Canadian teams’ playoff hopes for next year

Carey Price and P.K. Subban. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

For shame, Great White North. For shame. A year after five of seven Canadian NHL teams booked tickets to the big playoff dance, 0.0 will participate in the post-season. Monday night’s results pretty much nailed the nation’s collective coffin shut. The Ottawa Senators would have to win their final six games, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings would have to lose out aside from their remaining head-to-head matchup. So, yeah, Ottawa won’t pull off a miracle two years in a row.

It seems most fan bases and local pundits accepted that fate several weeks ago, however, as no Canadian squad was anywhere near a playoff berth. The Sens still sit 10 points back. It’s time to move on and start asking about next year. Which Canadian team, if any, has the most realistic odds of returning to the post-season in 2016-17? It’s time to rank their chances, from worst to best.

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Rumor Roundup: If Stamkos hits open market Leafs, Canucks, Canadiens will be among suitors

Steven Stamkos (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

The 2016 NHL trade deadline is history and the start of unrestricted free agency is months away, but questions persist over contract talks between the Tampa Bay Lightning and captain Steven Stamkos. Eligible for UFA status on July 1, the future of the 26-year-old sniper remains a subject of interest in the rumor mill.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes the longer Stamkos remains unsigned, the more speculation will grow over his future. If the Bolts captain hits the open market, Garrioch believes the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres could be among the suitors.

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