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The Prospector: Thatcher Demko is too good, might not be real

It's time for another prospect update, because the Canucks prospects just keep doing stuff.
Thatcher Demko stretches to make the save
Thatcher Demko stretches to make the save

It's time for another prospect update, because the Canucks prospects just keep doing stuff.

Seriously, Thatcher Demko? Seriously?

Demko just posted his sixth shutout in his last seven games, giving Canucks fans a whole new thing to be worried about -- that Demko might be a figment of our collective imaginations. He’s just too good.

The NCAA record for shutouts in a season is 12, held by Greg Gardner, who isn’t exactly a household name. But a familiar name is all over the single-season shutout record list: Ryan Miller. His 10 shutouts in 2001 are tied for second all-time and he also posted two 8-shutout seasons.

Demko is on pace to smash Miller’s marks and the all-time record: assuming he starts the same number of games as last season, Demko is on pace for 23 shutouts. That’s insane and obviously won’t happen, but that it’s even on the table is crazy.

Also within Demko’s grasp: the records for save percentage and goals against average. Both records are held by Jimmy Howard from his 2003-04 season, when he posted a .956 SV% and 1.19 GAA. Demko currently has a .974 SV% and 0.67 GAA.

The highlight videos from Boston College games are a little short on saves, but you can see an excellent blocker save at the 42 second mark of this highlight video from Demko’s shutout of Maine.

And you can spot a couple more less spectacular saves from his latest shutout from the 8th:

Hunter Shinkaruk scores another hattrick, still isn’t bored with it

It looks like Hunter Shinkaruk is going to make it incredibly difficult to keep him down in the AHL this season. On Saturday, he scored his second hattrick of the season, giving him 9 goals and 12 points in 11 games.

Here’s the full game highlights from Saturday (including some nice work by Brendan Gaunce that I’ll touch on in a moment):

Just because, here’s Shinkaruk’s third goal by itself:

Just look at that smile. How can you not be excited for this kid to get to the NHL?

Amazingly, Shinkaruk’s 9 goals in 11 games isn’t enough for first in the NHL. Frank Vatrano, a Boston Bruins prospect, has 10 goals in 10 games. That was enough to get Vatrano called up to the Bruins, where he scored in his first ever NHL game. Here’s hoping we see the same from Shinkaruk.

Brendan Gaunce isn’t content with brief NHL experience

Brendan Gaunce didn’t stick around with the Canucks for very long during his NHL call-up, but he made an impression, scoring his first career goal by going hard to the net and out-muscling his defender. We’ll ignore for the moment that the puck just deflected in off him and instead imagine he went bar-down after undressing the goaltender with a slick toe-drag deke.

Gaunce has taken that experience in the NHL and stepped up his game in his return to the AHL, putting up 2 goals and 4 points in 2 games since getting back to Utica. It seems pretty clear that he wants to make his way back into a Canucks jersey as soon as possible.

You can see his goal and 2 assists against the Providence Bruins in the highlight video above from Shinkaruk’s hattrick. He assisted on Shinkaruk’s first goal with a superb backdoor pass, then scored an impressive goal at about 58 seconds into the video. His pass to the point got picked off, but he just casually lifts his opponent’s stick and gets the puck back before rifling his shot home.

His second assist is also excellent, as he fakes one way behind the net, then comes out the other side and finds Mike Zalewski at the backdoor. That's a lot more guile than we've seen out of Gaunce in the past.

Before his three-point night against the Bruins, he scored a breakaway goal against the Toronto Marlies, which you can see 41 seconds into this highlight video:

That’s a pretty nice pass from Alexandre Grenier to spring Gaunce. Grenier currently leads all Comets forwards in shots on goal, but has just two goals himself. You have to think he’ll turn that around before too long.

What’s the deal with Anton Rodin?

It’s hard to know what to make of Anton Rodin, who never seemed to adjust to the North American game in the AHL or, perhaps, wasn’t given an opportunity to truly shine. Whatever the case may be, he’s turning heads back in the SHL, leading the league in scoring with 10 goals and 24 points in 16 games.

None of his highlights have made it onto YouTube, so I’m short on embeddable videos, but you can see him battle level in front of the net for a level-headed assist at 1:44 in this video, tally a goal at 1:10 in this video, pick up an assist at 0:37, another at 1:30 with a neat drop pass, and a goal at 1:48 of this video, and showcase some solid finish in front of the net at 2:26 in this video.

The big question with Rodin is whether he can handle the physical rigors of playing on North American ice, simply because it’s smaller and there’s less room to maneuver, so winning puck battles becomes more important. Still, when you’re talking about a guy putting up points the way Rodin has, you start to wonder if skill trumps strength in this case. He’s got wheels, goes hard to the net, and can finish, which are all ingredients that Jim Benning likes.

Alternately, since other teams have been looking into him, flipping him for a draft pick might not be the worst move, particularly if the Canucks have no interest in giving him the NHL ice time he’s likely looking for in a return to North America.

Carl Neill keeps on keeping on

Neill continues to steadily roll along for Sherbrooke in the QMJHL. He’s currently on a 9-game point streak and has 18 points in 18 games -- impressive production for a defenceman.

The big caveat is that his defence partner is Jeremy Roy, a highly-regarded dynamic defenceman who was picked just outside the first round in this year’s draft. It’s going to be hard to parse just how much of Neill’s success is due to playing with Roy. The two are currently sitting third and fifth in scoring among QMJHL defencemen.

Guillaume “Orr-lite” Brisebois

Guillaume Brisebois hasn’t put up the same kind of numbers as Neill, with just 5 points in 18 games, but he blows Neill away in the all-important highlight reel category. He scored a spectacular goal last week on an end-to-end rush that had the commentators making Bobby Orr comparisons.



That is lovely. The Bobby Orr comparison might be a pinch over-the-top. It would also be nice to see the 18-year-old putting up a few more points in his first post-draft year.

Brock Boeser is an 18-year-old freshman in the NCAA

No need to be too concerned just yet, but after his 4-game scoring streak in which he put up 5 goals and 7 points, Boeser has gone quiet, with no points in his last three games. Considering he started the season going pointless in his first three games, he’s starting to look a bit streaky.

It’s just 10 games, of course, and Boeser is an 18-year-old freshman playing against a lot of opponents who are 20+. A streaky freshman year wouldn’t be particularly surprising. Seriously, those guys go streaking all the time.