The news for Alex Edler is about as good as it gets after the scary scene on Monday night: he doesn’t have any facial fractures, but does have a concussion and needed a lot of stitches and dental work. He’s expected to miss at least a week, though it’s always hard to project the recovery time for a concussion.
Thatcher Demko, meanwhile, returned to Vancouver for an MRI after tweaking his groin on Monday. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss.
The injuries to Edler and Demko necessitated a couple call-ups for the Canucks. On defence, they turned to Guillaume Brisebois, who has been playing significant minutes for the Utica Comets.
The Canucks seem to really believe in Brisebois, as Jim Benning will frequently bring him up unbidden in discussions about Canucks prospects. He’s yet to show Canucks fans what management sees in him, with underwhelming performances at prospect games and in the preseason, but it’s certainly possible that he’s got more to show. There has to be a reason for all the belief in his abilities.
The injury to Demko required something a little more drastic than a call down to Utica, however, as the Canucks don’t have any goaltenders under an NHL contract with the Comets.
That meant a call to the only other goaltender in the Canucks system with a contract: Mikey DiPietro of the Ottawa 67’s. DiPietro can only join the Canucks on an emergency recall basis, requiring proof that Demko is injured and, once Demko is healthy, DiPietro will have to immediately return to the OHL.
DiPietro is having a solid season in the OHL, with a .913 save percentage that is fourth among goaltenders with at least 20 games played.
That number is marred by some shakiness since he was traded from the Windsor Spitfires to the 67’s — he has an .896 save percentage since the trade — but he’s gotten his game back on track of late. He has a .936 save percentage in his last three starts and has won six straight games, including a shutout victory.
It’s entirely possible that neither Brisebois nor DiPietro will actually play a game for the Canucks during their call-ups. Alex Biega is expected to step into the lineup, with Chris Tanev sliding over to play on the left in Edler’s absence. If Edler is only out for a week or so, the Canucks could get by without putting Brisebois into a game.
There are certainly arguments for DiPietro to play, even as early as Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals. Jacob Markstrom seems to play best when he’s well-rested, and the second night of back-to-backs is normally a scheduled rest day for a starter. The first start for a 19-year-old rookie could provide a rallying point for a tired Canucks team. And DiPietro is legit, as he proved at the 2019 World Junior tournament, posting a stunning .952 save percentage, even as Team Canada fell short of the medal round.
On the other hand, giving DiPietro his first start against Ovechkin and the Capitals might not be the best idea. It also would be very much against Travis Green’s character to make that kind of move.
It will all depend on how long Demko is out. If it’s a minor injury and Demko quickly returns to action, then DiPietro may have to wait a few years before his first NHL game. If Demko is out for a bit longer, the Canucks may have to give DiPietro a start or two to keep from wearing out Markstrom.