Arturs Silovs is a bit of a character. That was immediately apparent from his spiffy bow tie and pencil moustache at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.
“That was my fashion choice, so I can be different,” said Silovs at the Canucks’ prospect camp. “Because [they were] all wearing ties and I couldn’t do that.”
Being a little bit different can be beneficial for a goaltender, who are set apart from the rest of the players on the ice by their different role, equipment, and mindset. Not every goaltender is eccentric, but there’s a perception in the hockey world that you have to be a little strange to intentionally get in the way of hard, rubber pucks shot at high velocity.
There was Patrick Roy, who talked to his posts, Glenn Hall, who intentionally vomited before every game, or Ilya Bryzgalov, who would hold court with the media on the tea he planned to drink before the game or how the universe is “humongous big.” Since so much of the goaltending game is mental, perhaps that quirkiness is how that mental strength comes out off the ice.
Of course, Bryzgalov himself said, “Defencemen, they don’t have goalie gear, but they’ve got to block the shot. Who’s more crazy: me or defenceman? Who’s more weird?”
Whatever the case, Silovs is an intriguing prospect for the Canucks, a project goaltender with great size and athleticism that needs refining. Judd Brackett summed up his qualities that give the Canucks hope he could make the NHL: “Great length, power, elasticity, things that Dan Cloutier and Ian Clark both like and feel like they're...very, very good qualities to develop with.”
Clearly the Canucks are confident about Silovs, as they’ve already signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract. The sixth-round pick is the first player the Canucks have signed from their 2019 draft class, with their first-round pick Vasili Podkolzin committed to the KHL for two more years, and second-round pick Nils Hoglander heading back to the SHL in Sweden next season.
Silovs was selected by the Barrie Colts in the CHL Import Draft, which possibly came as a surprise, as Silovs indicated at the NHL draft that he was expecting to get picked by a QMJHL team. Silovs has yet to sign with the Colts, but his agent, Ryan Minkoff, has confirmed that he will be playing in Barrie. The Colts' training camp begins next week.
Signing Silovs now gives the Canucks some control over where he plays. They can loan him to the Colts for next season, but make a different choice for the 2020-21 season if they feel it’s better for his development. In addition, his contract will slide, so he won’t count against the Canucks’ 50-contract limit and he won’t eat a year of his contract. He will, however, get whatever signing bonus was negotiated as part of his deal.
The Canucks now have seven goaltenders under contract for next season, six of them in professional hockey. The chances of Silovs seeing action with the Canucks under emergency call-up conditions, like Michael DiPietro last season, are slim to none, but at least they have that last-minute option, if it comes to that.