The Vancouver Canucks hit a snag with goaltender Michael DiPietro. Due to mismanagement of his development over the past few seasons, his agent thinks it might be best for the two sides to go their separate ways. (from ‘Canucks: Michael DiPietro’s agent thinks club ‘dropped the ball’ on client development”), Province, July 27, 2022). Although Vancouver is now under a new management group, the bridge appears to be burnt, with trade appearing to be the best solution.
How things went wrong with DiPietro and the Canucks
The relationship between the Canucks and DiPietro has been slowly breaking down since the 2018-19 season. That year, he was called up from the Ontario Hockey League and unfairly propelled into a game against the San Jose Sharks, where he allowed seven goals on 24 shots. Since that game, he has only played two NHL games, having started only one.
Then you have the pandemic season of 2020-21, which was a huge problem. Instead of the Canucks finding a veteran goaltender they could keep on the roster as part of the taxi squad, they decided to use DiPietro. The result was a wasted year as he only played four games all season, with those of the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL). While working with Vancouver goaltending coach Ian Clark every day was invaluable, he should have played regular games to avoid what turned out to be a wasted year of development.
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It was clear that the 2020-21 season hurt DiPietro as he was passed by Spencer Martin on the depth chart in the 2021-22 campaign at the AHL and NHL levels. With the Canucks signing Collin Delia this offseason and Artrus Silovs looking for a bigger role, it looks like a similar fate could be in store for him in the 2022-23 season, the former 2017 third-round pick having to fight for the crease in Abbotsford. As such, a trade might be the best thing for both sides, with the next three teams a good landing spot for the former Windsor Spitfire.
Much like the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers are at an impasse when it comes to organizational goaltending depth. While Spencer Knight recently graduated from the NHL and the team traded Devon Levi as part of the Sam Reinhart deal, they are left with just two out of four total signed goaltenders in the system aged under 28 years old. This is a team that could desperately use a player like 23-year-old DiPietro to come and help add depth to a pipeline that desperately needs it.
Based on who the Panthers signed, their plan for the AHL is to run Alex Lyon and Mack Guzda. While Lyon has the experience of playing over 200 games in total at the AHL and NHL levels, Guzda is making the transition from junior to professional level this coming season. Bringing in DiPietro would allow them to place the 21-year-old in the ECHL next season so he can develop properly by getting regular minutes while giving the current Canucks goalie the chance to compete for the starting job. in the AHL.
The Canadiens are a team that needs to develop their goaltending depth quickly. As of July 30, 2022, they only had three goalies signed in Carey Price, Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault, and one restricted free agent to sign in Cayden Primeau. If there is an injury in their goalkeeping department, it could send the whole team into a spiral with results similar to the 2021-22 season.
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Bringing in DiPietro would give the Canadiens additional stability within the organization. They know firsthand how important depth is as they used six different goalkeepers during the 2021-22 campaign due to Price’s absence for most of the season. As mentioned, they only have four goaltenders signed for 2022-23, and with Montreal facing cap issues, adding someone who carries an $840,000 cap might be the best move to increase their goaltending depth by aim. Whether he stays all season in the AHL or has the opportunity to fill in at the NHL level, bringing in the Windsor native makes a lot of sense to help bolster his goaltending depth.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The three-time defending Eastern Conference champions are a team desperate to inject some youth into their goalkeeping system. Of the six goaltenders in the Lightning organization, only three are younger than DiPietro, and only one of those players has signed a contract with Hugo Alnefelt. Just like with the Canadiens, any sort of long-term injury to a goaltender could hurt his season due to his shallow depth.
Next season, the Lightning are expected to use Alnefelt and 29-year-old Max Lagacé as AHL goaltenders. Acquiring DiPietro could allow them to send Alnefelt to the ECHL so the 21-year-old can get consistent game action and develop properly rather than struggling for games at the AHL level. It would also allow the former OHL Goaltender of the Year to join an organization with Mikhail Sergachev and Sean Day, with whom he won the Memorial Cup in 2017. This partnership makes a lot of sense as Tampa Bay adds youth and a determined goalie. to prove he can produce at the pro level.
Change of scenery Best option for DiPietro
It’s obvious a change of scenery is needed at this point for DiPietro, with Eastern Conference teams looking like the best landing spot. Just because it didn’t work out in Vancouver doesn’t mean he’s not an intriguing prospect. All he needs is a situation where he can play regularly and, above all, be supported throughout his development. It’s unfortunate that the relationship has been fractured at this point, but hopefully it will serve as an important lesson for the future, not only for the Canucks, but for others in the league as well.
Adam is thrilled to join The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.