With two and a half weeks until the Vancouver Canucks' training camp begins and six draftees left to cover in my summer profile series, I'm going to skip over fifth-round selection Carson Focht for now and profile sixth-rounder Arturs Silovs today instead.
The reason? Silovs became the first member of his draft class to be signed by the Canucks when he inked his three-year entry-level deal on Friday. The big Latvian goalie was the first of three players selected by Vancouver in the sixth round back in June—156th overall.
Born in the Latvian capital of Riga, Silovs has come up through the Dinamo Riga system. On the international side, he won a gold medal in the Division 1A World U18 tournament in 2018, posting a 1.00 GAA and .960 save percentage to help Latvia move up to the top-level tournament last season. In Sweden, he appeared in all five games and earned the crucial shutout in Latvia's 2-0 win over Slovakia that allowed them to avoid playing in the relegation game and advance to the quarterfinal against Canada, where they lost 3-1.
Despite that solid performance, Silovs was not included on the list of 12 draft-eligible European goalies who were ranked by NHL Central Scouting this year. Nevertheless, he made his first-ever trip to Canada for the draft, where he said that he had talked with the Canucks quite extensively and had a feeling they might pick him.
Listed at 6'4" and 194 pounds on the IIHF's U18 website, says he's quick and likes to move the puck aggressively.
Silovs also stuck around for the Canucks' Development Camp.
Here's the video prepared by his agency to showcase Silovs ahead of the draft. Some big-time flexibility and no-quit attitude on display here!
On June 27, the last day of Development Camp, Silovs became the first goalie selected in the 2019 CHL Import Draft — chosen 11th overall by the Barrie Colts.
According to their website, the Colts already have three goalies on their roster, who all shared duties last season. Though their team goals-against was actually pretty good — ninth in the 20-team league — the Colts were one of just four teams to miss the OHL playoffs last season, so they could be looking for an upgrade. According to Daniel Wagner, Silovs' agent has confirmed that Silovs plans to play in Barrie this year, which will make it much easier for us to track his progress.
Silovs' agent also posted a terrific piece on LinkedIn that offers a detailed outline of how everything has gone this year and the steps that he took to get an under-the-radar player like Silovs noticed in the right places.
Minkoff is just getting started in the agent business. He's 26 and hung up his own skates in 2016 after playing college hockey at the University of Washington and spending one year in Finland — which he wrote about for the Players' Tribune:
According to PuckPedia, Silovs is Minkoff's first client to be signed to an NHL contract — and it's certainly not typical to see a sixth-rounder get inked within two months of being drafted.
Silovs' deal shows a cap hit of $800,000 per season. Of course, if he plays in the OHL next season, the deal will slide. But since he was drafted out of Europe, Silovs won't be forced to remain in the CHL as a 19-year-old next season if another, better, opportunity presents itself.
All told, it should be fascinating to watch Silovs' progress this season. He's an intriguing cat, especially for a player selected so late in the draft.
Meanwhile, higher-profile prospects Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander went head-to-head this weekend in Russia at the U20 Four Nations Cup, and Podkolzin's Russian team emerged victorious.
There aren't any box scores available on the tournament website, but I can tell you that the Russians started off with a 4-1 win over the Czech Republic on Friday, then followed up by beating Sweden 1-0 on Saturday before falling 4-2 to the Finns on Sunday, with their tournament win already clinched.
There are a bunch of fun Podkolzin highlights from the weekend on Twitter. This one is my personal favourite.
As for Hoglander's Swedes, they went 0-2-1, losing in overtime to Finland before their regulation losses to the Russians and Czechs.
He also got some Twitter love.
Here is @Canucks prospect Nils Hoglander against Russia earlier this morning. The hands on this guy are crazy, and you can see them on display in this video. Hoglander had a goal disallowed due to high stick. pic.twitter.com/FmtHOEZ7TD