The Vancouver Canucks inked Richard Bachman over the summer to serve as AHL depth, but the former Dallas Stars prospect has decent NHL upside when needed — so it’s hardly a surprise that he’s getting the early season call-up to fill in for injured Jacob Markstrom.
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Salt Lake City native Bachman stands at only 5 foot 10 and 183 lbs. He’s a stark contrast to the giant, lanky Markstrom — but when Vancouver’s backup went down with an injury before the puck had even dropped for opening night, the Pacific Division club went with their best AHL option. Bachman held it together in six NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers last year (posting a .911 SV% behind the bottom-five club) and boasts only one season in which his collective NHL starts added up to less than a .900 SV%; if the Canucks need him to fill in in net for starter Ryan Miller at any point during the upcoming few games, it’s reasonable to assume that the 28 year old will be able to do so without much trouble.
Vancouver’s other options, of course, have much bigger question marks.
The team re-signed prospect Joe Cannata, a former standout with Merrimack College while playing in the NCAA, in hopes that the 2009 sixth-round selection will finally get a chance to take some heavy starts at the AHL level. His numbers in the 2014-2015 season, which included 21 ECHL starts with the Ontario Reign and five appearances with the Utica Comets of the AHL, were fairly excellent — the 6 foot Massachusetts native, who trains with the same goaltending coach as former Canucks netminder Cory Schneider, had a .927 SV% in the ECHL and a .932 SV% in the AHL. Still, he’s never played at the NHL level; if something happens to Miller before Markstrom is healthy, putting Cannata into the lineup this early would be a risk.
Behind Markstrom and Cannata, the Canucks also have former NCAA netminder Clay Witt on an AHL contract. Witt has never played pro before; he’s coming off his final season with Northeastern, and he’s only seen pro ice for the four games he started for the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays in the 2015 post-season. He’s an even bigger question mark, and prospect Thatcher Demko — while expected to be quite good — is still playing NCAA hockey himself.