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We’re back with another Friday roundup for September 11th, 2020.

There was a lot to cover this week so let’s get into it.

Canucks get eliminated from playoffs and a wild goaltender controversy appears!

Yeah, believe it or not, that was just seven days ago.

The Canucks fought hard to push for a game seven against the Vegas Golden Knights but found themselves outplayed by the better team in game seven.

Thatcher Demko was the star of this series as he came in for the final three games for the Canucks and was above excellent in those appearances.

The biggest immediate takeaway from the series was the newly risen goaltending controversy. Total Vancouver move, I know.

It’s hard to argue against the fact that Demko was outstanding. That run of three games took me back to the Roberto Luongo days where he would outright steal victories for this team. Jacob Markstrom was the team’s most valuable player but Demko is the Canucks’ “goalie of the future”, to quote Jim Benning. We will get to the Benning quotes later.

Demko’s age lines up better with the young core but Markstrom has been the proven starter that this team needs in order to be competitive in the regular season. Some would argue that the hardest part of a goalie’s development is becoming an everyday starter.

Goalies who start 50+ games a year have to deal with a very different workload. To me, Demko looks ready. He started 91 games over two seasons at the AHL level during the 2016-18 seasons. Letting Markstrom walk is a gamble for the Canucks but it does come with some side bets that could tickle some fancies.

The contract for Markstrom could be anywhere between two to five years long and between five to six and a half million dollars. If the Canucks were to let Markstrom walk, they would be able to spend that money on players like Chris Tanev, Troy Stecher and Tyler Toffoli.

But is Demko ready to become that everyday starter? Jim Benning seems to think so:

We will find out what the Canucks choose to do rather soon, as Markstrom is set to become a free agent in the second week of October.

Nils Höglander finds the scoresheet again

For what will likely become a recurring topic in the Friday roundups, I want to talk about Nils Höglander.

He had another good game for Rögle BK in a preseason SHL game on Wednesday. Höglander had a primary assist on the powerplay and attempted a pretty wicked move in the shootout. Giving fans some real Marek Malik vibes.

His assist on the powerplay was converted and here’s what it looked like.

We have an exclusive interview with Nils next week and will continue to follow his play.

Höglander’s SHL regular season begins on September 19th.

Someone shoots, Vasili Podkolzin scores!

The Canucks’ top prospect Vasili Podkolzin scored his first goal of the KHL season on Tuesday.

He continues to control a ridiculous amount of the attempted shots on 5-on-5 and looks to have improved a ton since last season. His young guns line of Ivan Morozov and Kirill Marchenko have looked dominant at even strength even though they are playing in a fourth-line role.

Morozov is getting powerplay time as the net-front presence right now. Podkolzin will have to show his coaches that he is a better option at that spot on the powerplay if he wants to get special teams time.

Goals like his first of the year will help that as he set up in front of the net and tipped it past the goaltender.

I’ve got a full report on Tuesday’s game HERE if you would like to check it out.

Also a long read on the Canucks top two prospects HERE.

As for when Podkolzin is coming to North America, thanks to Jason Jhutti for this one.

Jim Benning speaks

Jim Benning was thrown to the media this week and also made an appearance on both Sportsnet 650 and TSN 1040. There were a lot of things that drew attention in these conversations.

The first one was how he was expecting more from Jake Virtanen in the playoffs.

This one got all the Canucks fans talking as Virtanen is a restricted free agent this offseason and many do believe he has played his last game in Vancouver.

Benning later said on TSN1040 that recouping draft picks would be from signing their UFA’s and gauging the market on potentially trading their RFA’s. He went on to say he has talked to eight of the 30 other teams.

Virtanen is a curious situation. With an 18 goal season under his belt, he does have a strong hand in an arbitration case. The Canucks can’t pay another bottom-six player three million dollars. If Virtanen is going to continue to improve, then he could be worth the money. But if he is what he is, it might be time to sell on the big and fast right winger.

He talked about not moving picks. That was good. Even though the Canucks don’t have a first or a second this year and I would like to hope that they can keep some in the future.

My favourite quote from Benning was what he said on TSN 1040 about Tyler Motte.

“I love Tyler Motte.”

“We’re going to get him signed. He’s part of the culture we are trying to build here,” Benning added. That was nice to hear but I am still worried that Benning believes that fourth-liners should make more than two and half million dollars.

I don’t think Motte gets that type of money. But I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Benning potentially give him a three-year contract worth something around six million dollars total.

Final topic from Twitter

There are some other prospects who are just beginning their seasons now.

Arvid Costmar will begin his SHL season along with Nils Höglander on September 19th. Costmar has not necessarily secured a spot on the team but did impress at Sweden’s World Junior camp where he played alongside top Swedish prospects for the 2020 NHL draft, Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond.

Costmar will be fun to watch at the World Juniors this season. I don’t know if we will see him do much at the SHL level but I am ready to be surprised.

Nikita Tryamkin is currently playing his KHL season. His team is off to a great start to the year under new coach Bill Peters and I guess we should keep tabs on him as a landing spot could emerge for Tryamkin next season on the Canucks with Jordie Benn and Alex Edler both set to become free agents.

The NCAA prospects just found out on Thursday that their seasons would be postponed to a later date. This includes Aidan McDonough and Jack Malone. The NCAA has stated that each conference will work to find a date that works for a start up.

Toni Utunen will be back in the Finnish Liiga for another year. The Liiga is scheduled to begin their regular season play on October 1st and is currently playing preseason games in preparation for the beginning of the season.

There are a few young AHL players like Kole Lind, Marc Michaelis, Will Lockwood and Jonah Gadjovich that are more of a mystery to where and when they will play hockey next. The AHL is a league that is driven by gate revenue but it is a promising sign to see leagues like the BCHL, WHL and others try to ramp up in North America. The AHL is a great spot for the young players to develop and it would be a tough blow to see the Utica Comets not in action this season.

Well, that wraps up another Friday roundup! We will have another one next Friday and we will likely be talking about Podkolzin and Höglander again. Until then follow along for updates and reports on prospects and keep an eye out for our playoff reviews of all the Canucks players.