Vancouver Sun

Demko era nears as Canucks ship Nilsson, Archibald to Senators

- PATRICK JOHNSTON with files from Scott Brown pjohnston@postmedia.com twitter.com/risingacti­on

The Vancouver Canucks are prepping for the beginning of Thatcher Demko’s National Hockey League career, making a trade Wednesday to begin clearing a path for the highly touted netminder.

The Canucks have sent Anders Nilsson and journeyman forward Darren Archibald to Ottawa in exchange for goalie Mike McKenna, winger Tom Pyatt and a 2019 sixthround draft pick.

Demko has been playing for the past two and a half seasons with the Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning said that he felt Demko was ready to move up to prime time and so it was time to find a new home for Nilsson, who was the team’s backup goalie for the past season and a half.

“One of the things that we wanted to do was make room for Thatcher and get him going,” Benning said on a conference call.

“We’ve been patient with him, with his developmen­t,” he added. “He’s playing really well down there (in Utica) ... we just felt that the foundation for his game is set, now is time for him to move up.”

For now, McKenna will serve as backup to the Canucks’ No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom, Benning said.

“I think it gives us flexibilit­y,” he said of adding McKenna. “For the next couple days, Mike will back up (Markstrom).”

Benning also indicated this was a trade they’d been looking at for a while.

McKenna, 35, has posted a record of 1-4-1 and a 3.96 goals-against average for the Ottawa Senators this season. He was called up from the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville, Ont., after Mike Condon was sent down following a disastrous start against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 31.

The St. Louis, Mo., native has played 34 NHL games over the course of six seasons with the Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars, posting a record of 7-16-3.

The Canucks beat the Senators 4-3 in overtime in Ottawa Wednesday night, and are in Montreal today. Their current six-game road trip, which had stops in Calgary, Edmonton and New Jersey, wraps up Saturday in Toronto.

To make room for Demko, the Canucks will have to waive McKenna, though given his long career, it seems doubtful another team would claim him.

The Comets are a bit thin in goal now, as Demko’s backup, veteran Richard Bachman, injured his Achilles last month. His season is over, Benning confirmed.

The 28-year-old Nilsson, who backed Sweden to gold at the World Hockey Championsh­ip last spring, had a 3-8-1 record, 3.09 GAA and .895 save percentage in 12 games with the Canucks this season.

Pyatt, 31, has tallied two assists and two penalty minutes in 37 games this season for the Senators. The winger is currently mired in a 50-game goalless streak. He was waived by the Senators on Tuesday and will be assigned to Utica.

Archibald, 28, has split the past two years between the Canucks and the AHL’s Utica Comets. The rugged forward had a goal and an assist in nine NHL games this season. He’ll join the Belleville Senators.

 ?? GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? Mike McKenna will serve as the Canucks’ backup goalie until Thatcher Demko is ready to join the team.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS Mike McKenna will serve as the Canucks’ backup goalie until Thatcher Demko is ready to join the team.
 ??  ?? Thatcher Demko
Thatcher Demko

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