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Canucks slide Demko to long-term IR, say it’s just a cap move

Coach says shift not related to a change in goalie’s health status, it’s just about getting cap space
Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) stops Pittsburgh Penguins’ Valtteri Puustinen (48) during the first period of an NHL game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, February 27, 2024. The Canucks have placed all-star goalie Demko on the long-term injured reserve list retroactively.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Vancouver Canucks have placed all-star goalie Thatcher Demko on the long-term injured reserve list retroactively.

“It’s just cap related,” coach Rick Tocchet said after practice Wednesday. “We get some cap relief, that’s all it is.”

The 28-year-old netminder has been considered week to week since being sidelined with a lower-body injury midway through Vancouver’s 5-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on March 9.

That injury designation hasn’t changed, Tocchet said.

Demko boasts a 34-18-2 record this season, with a .917 save percentage, a 2.47 goals-against average and five shutouts.

Casey DeSmith has taken over the starting job for Vancouver, going 3-2-1 since Demko’s injury. He has a .899 save percentage on the season with a 2.73 goals-against average and one shutout.

The earliest Demko could be back in the Canucks’ lineup is April 6 against the Kings in Los Angeles.

He’s expected to be a key piece as Vancouver (45-19-8) prepares for its first playoff appearance since the COVID-shortened 2019-20 campaign.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin also announced Wednesday that the club has called up forward Arshdeep Bains from the Abbotsford Canucks of the American Hockey League.

“I’d like to see where (Bains is) at,” Tocchet said, noting he isn’t sure whether the 23-year-old winger will slot into the lineup when the Canucks host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Bains played five games for the NHL team in February before being sent back to Abbotsford.

“He went down, he’s done a couple of things that we like, and he’s got some speed,” Tocchet said.

Vancouver may get another forward back in the lineup Thursday.

Dakota Joshua practised in a full-contact jersey on Wednesday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury in Vancouver’s 4-2 win over the Blackhawks in Chicago on Feb. 13.

The physical winger, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, has a career-high 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) this season.

Sitting out injured “hasn’t been fun,” Joshua said.

“It feels like forever,” he said. “But at this point, that’s behind me and I’m moving forward.”

READ ALSO: THE MOJ: Canucks approaching life without Demko in good humour