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Arshdeep Bains getting top-six shot with Canucks

J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser had a new linemate at Thursday's morning skate in Seattle: Arshdeep Bains.
Arshdeep Bains is getting a quick promotion after his Vancouver Canucks debut.

The kid from Surrey who grew up dreaming about playing for the Vancouver Canucks will now get a chance to play alongside the Canucks' leading scorer.

Arshdeep Bains made his NHL debut on Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, which was, despite the snowy name, a true trial by fire. While Bains showed some first-game jitters in the defensive zone, he showed a real ability to create scoring chances in the offensive zone. He had a couple of scoring chances himself but also set up linemate Teddy Blueger for a pair of grade-A chances from below the goal line.

Evidently, the Canucks' coaching staff liked what they saw from Bains. On Thursday against the Seattle Kraken, he's not only getting into a second NHL game but also getting a promotion into the team's top-six.

Bains skated on a line with J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser at the Canucks' morning skate in Seattle, a major opportunity with the team's leaders in points and goals. Bains has continually proved himself at every level and has been the Abbotsford Canucks' top scorer this season, so it's fitting that he's getting a shot to put up points in the NHL as well.

This isn't the type of opportunity that comes around often for an undrafted player like Bains. If he can turn into a legitimate NHL player, let alone a top-six forward, that would be a major win for both Bains and the Canucks organization. 

What stood out for Bains in his debut was his work rate and his battle level down low and along the boards. The jump from the AHL to the NHL is a significant one but he showed that he can handle the increased pace of the game and the increased size of his opponents and still make plays. 

That's what likely earned him a promotion to the Miller line, as he plays the same style of game as Miller and Boeser, who have created a lot of their chances through board work and getting to the front of the net. It will be interesting to see if there's any chemistry there.

The other reason for the promotion might be Pius Suter's lack of finish in the offensive zone. While the Miller line has scored at a prodigious rate with Suter, Suter himself has failed to finish on a number of grade-A chances. 

Moving Suter to a line with Teddy Blueger and Conor Garland adds another excellent two-way forward to the third line, making them a strong candidate to play in a match-up role defensively. That's not something that head coach Rick Tocchet would have been comfortable doing with a rookie like Bains on that line. As much as Bains showed excellent hustle and knew the systems defensively, there was still some hesitancy and uncertainty in his defensive reads, which isn't surprising given the jump from the AHL to the NHL. Nailing those defensive reads against NHL competition will take a bit of time.

A major part of the story, of course, is that Bains is just the fourth player of Punjabi descent to play in the NHL. As much as getting this opportunity is significant for Bains as an individual, it's also fantastic to see for young Canucks fans of South Asian descent across B.C. 

"Being a role model for kids that want to play one day, if that’s what it does, that’s super cool," said Bains to Sportsnet's Sonny Sachdeva a couple of years ago. "I’m hoping that more kids of South Asian descent want to play hockey, and think they can achieve great things.”