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2021 Canucks Top 25 Under 25: #7 Michael DiPietro

The Canucks stud goalie prospect played just four games last season.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Vancouver Canucks
Goalie Michael Dipietro #65 of the Vancouver Canucks stretches during the pre-game warm-up prior to NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 17, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

Welcome to the 2021 Edition of the Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1997. Seven staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, Kent Basky, CanucksAbbyFan2, Markus Meyer, Noah Strang, Harsunder Singh H) and two outside writers (Daniel Gee & Cam Robinson) cast votes for the project.

Because #8 in our rankings was recently traded to the Florida Panthers, we’re skipping straight from #9 to #7.

And although some consider seven a lucky number, DiPietro’s season was anything but lucky in 2020-21.

Heading into last season, I initially assumed that there was no way the Canucks would let DiPietro waste away on the taxi squad.

Clearly, I was wrong.

DiPietro stayed on the taxi squad for most of the season, where he got to work with Ian Clark and Curtis Sanford.

He eventually played four games with the Utica Comets at the end of the season, winning three of four contests.

Now, for DiPietro, the main question heading into 2021 is...did the lack of playing time hurt his development?

With Abbotsford, there’s a good chance that DiPietro goes from four games to 50+ this season. He’s earned that right based on how he performed as a rookie in 2019-20. From the Canucks point of view, they need to get DiPietro these games, because he’s suddenly the best prospect in this organization.

If you consider Vasili Podkolzin and Jack Rathbone “graduated” prospects, then based on our rankings, Dipietro IS the Canucks’ best prospect.

So whether he’s a part of the future, or a trade chip, this season is integral for rediscovering his value.

It is fair to wonder if DiPietro fits into the organization's long-term plans. Thatcher Demko isn’t going anywhere anytime soon after signing his extension.

Five years ago, it might have made more sense to use DiPietro as a trade chip. In today’s NHL, the fact that backups are more valued than ever, coupled with cap constraints and a shaky trade market for goaltenders, developing and promoting the 22-year-old seems like the best course of action.

Plus, like Demko, DiPietro also seems to have the right attitude for succeeding in the NHL. Here’s what he recently said in an interview with Canucks Army.

“I’m hungry to continue to get better so you know I laugh at people when they think they know what’s best for me, because at the end of the day, I don’t play hockey to be second best or play in the second-best league,” DiPietro said. “My dream is to play in the NHL. If I just go to camp and concede and just be like, ‘okay, well I’m going to the American Hockey League, let’s just kind of run through the motions,’ then I shouldn’t even be at camp.”

“My job at camp is to make it hard on them and to show them what I’m about. You know you can use my age and say ‘oh you’re still young, you can still grow, you can have time in the American League this season.’ I’m not delicate. I’m not 19 anymore. I’m not that same goalie who let in seven goals against the San Jose Sharks at 19. I’m a mature young adult and I’m here to make it hard on them and I know what’s best for me at the end of the day, and like Clarkie and Sandman always says, you’re your best goalie coach and they can only help you along the way.”

There’s not much to say about 2020-21 for DiPietro, but if he performs well this season, there’s a good chance that he takes over as the Canucks backup in 2022-23.