The Vancouver Canucks added to their goaltending depth prior to training camp, acquiring Casey DeSmith from the Montreal Canadians for Tanner Pearson and a 2025 third-round pick. This is the second time this offseason the 32-year-old has been traded, as he was originally moved from the Pittsburgh Penguins to Montreal as part of the Erik Karlsson blockbuster deal. Over his five-year career in the NHL, he has started 115 games recording 58 wins and nine shutouts, all with the Penguins.
Born in Rochester, NH, DeSmith is listed at 6-foot, 181 pounds. Never drafted, he was named to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) All-Rookie Team in 2017 while also taking home the Harry Holmes Memorial Award that season given to the AHL’s top goalie tandem. Most recently, he was Team USA’s starting goaltender at the World Championship, posting a 5-2 record while also being named one of the top three players of the tournament for the Americans. He is projected to be the Canucks’ backup this season, making Vancouver the only team projected to have two American goaltenders on their roster at the start of the season.
DeSmith’s 2022-23 Season
Just like most in the Penguins organization, DeSmith had a down year in 2022-23. He had a 15-16-4 record and posted no shutouts for the first time in his career. His save percentage was still above .900 at .905, but his goals-against average was at 3.17, which was the highest of his career. As for other stats, he played in 38 games and started 33, which were both career highs, and made 30 or more saves in three of his final four games to end the season.
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While his basic stats may not be super impressive, his analytics tell a different story. According to MoneyPuck, he finished the season with a 4.5 goals saved above expected at five-on-five, which was ahead of players like Jordan Binnigton, John Gibson, and his partner in Pittsburgh, Tristan Jarry. He also recorded a .75 wins above replacement at five on five while giving up 0.042 rebounds per save, which was the fifth highest of any goaltender to play at least 20 games. These analytics show that while the 2022-23 season may not have been his best, he was still one of the more reliable backups in the league.
As mentioned, DeSmith was also Team USA’s number-one goaltender at the World Championship, beating out Cal Peterson for the starter’s job. In his seven games, he shut out both Czechia and Denmark while pushing the Americans to overtime of the Bronze Medal Game. While he didn’t walk away with a medal, losing out to Artūrs Šilovs and Team Latvia, it was an impressive performance and one that showed he can perform on the international stage for his country.
DeSmith’s Fit on the Canucks
The addition of DeSmith adds some flexibility to Vancouver’s goaltending department in a multitude of ways. The first is it gives a little more stability in the backup position. While Spencer Martin has been fine when asked to be the team’s backup, the former Penguin has a bit more experience and has shown he can handle a workload of over 20 games in a season.
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The other is if Thatcher Demko does get hurt again, the Canucks can be confident they have a goaltender that can take over the starter’s job and perform well. If Vancouver wants to make the postseason in 2023-24, they need stronger goaltending in case their starter goes down with an injury. With DeSmith, they at least know they have a goalkeeper who can perform relatively well if needed to become the starter for a period of time.
While some may not like what the Canucks had to pay to bring in DeSmith, this acquisition should be a positive heading into the season. He has shown in the past that he can be a reliable backup and one that has brought in double-digit wins in each of the last four seasons. Overall, it was a smart decision to bring him in, and will hopefully lead to Vancouver having one of the best duos in the Pacific Division.