Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains relishing call up to Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks' Arshdeep Bains skates during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 24, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Arshdeep Bains sums up his promotion from playing on the Vancouver Canucks‘ American Hockey League affiliate to featuring on the NHL club’s second line as “pretty special.”

Bains, of Surrey, B.C., was called up last week by the Canucks and made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. He also suited up Thursday night against the Seattle Kraken.

“It was pretty special playing my first couple games,” he said after a team practice on Friday. “So I’m still kind of thinking about that right now.”

Bains made his home debut on Saturday as the Vancouver Canucks bested the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime. He finished with 11:20 of ice time.

The soft-spoken forward shared on Friday about the impact playing with Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller on the second line has had on him in his short time with the big-league Canucks.

“They helped me kind of see a different side of the game,” he said. “I think I was able to kind of learn how they move around the rink and kind of learn from them.”

The 23-year-old was one of the last Canucks players off the ice Friday, staying so long that Noah Juulsen — who he carpooled with — was getting ready to leave without him.

What added to the special moment of playing for his hometown team was having his father, Kuldip, in attendance to watch his debut at Ball Arena in Colorado.

“He’s obviously the reason I played hockey, so having him there was nice,” Bains said.

Bains recorded 13:21 and 12:57 minutes of ice time in the games against Colorado and Seattle.

“I think it was good for me to get my first two games under the belt (against those) kind of competitive teams,” he said.

Bains is having a productive season with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Abbotsford, B.C. He has nine goals and 39 points in 42 games.

Before making the jump to the professional ranks last season, Bains played five campaigns with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League and produced 77 goals and 209 points.

Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and president said Bains’ rise is not unexpected.

“I’m not surprised. I mean he’s obviously developed himself into being a pretty good pro,” said Sutter.

“When he left here, you had a feeling that he was gonna be a pretty good pro. Just the way he was developing and he’s got skill, he’s talented, he works extremely hard.”

Sutter described Bains as a “quiet kid” but one who was smart and driven to make the most of his chance with the Rebels after going undrafted.

“He knows this as well as anybody — because he’s a pretty smart kid — that once you get there, you gotta work. You know, it’s much harder to be able to stay there and get that opportunity,” said Sutter.

“Right now he’s got his foot in the door, he gets a taste of it and we’ll see where it goes.”

Bains also spent a year at the Delta Hockey Academy, run by Ian Gallagher — the father of NHLer Brendan Gallagher.

“Arshdeep was always in love with the skill of the game and he does have a real great foundation in regards to that,” Ian Gallagher said.

“The Canucks are a really good team and the fact that he earned an opportunity in that lineup, it’s impressive.”

Gallagher said Bains being from the area adds to the emotion of the promotion.

“I think a lot of people take a lot of joy in seeing the kids who have a passion for something actually achieve the level that they’re achieving,” he said.

Bains is one of only four Punjabi players to play in the NHL, the others being Robin Bawa, Manny Malhotra and Jujhar Khaira.

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