The 21-year-old forward is currently the leading scorer in the Western Hockey League, having scored 30 goals and 52 assists for 82 points so far.
The Vancouver Canucks have taken a flyer on a home-town kid.
Canucks GM Patrik Allvin announced Friday that the team has signed Arshdeep Bains to an entry-level contract. Bains, 21, grew up in Surrey.
Bains has played for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL for five seasons and is currently the leading scorer in the WHL, having scored 30 goals and 52 assists for 82 points so far. According to the Canucks, he’s the first player of South Asian descent to lead the Western league in scoring.
He’s long been known for having great hands but as is so often the case with prospects, most scouts say he needs to improve his skating to have a chance at making the NHL. “He’s okay,” one NHL scout said.
“He’s a fun story,” Elite Propsects’ director of video scouting Cam Robinson told Postmedia.
“A walk-on kid who earned his stripes and moved up the lineup gets a deal with the hometown team. He’s slight and skilled but he can be tenacious, too. Obviously a big grain of salt on his production of him because he’s 21 now. But he was good in the bubble as a U20 last year.”
With the Canucks lacking depth in their prospect pool, there will be plenty of opportunity to prove himself as a pro, starting next season.
Vancouver North East Chiefs major midget coach Jamie Jackson has known Bains since he was seven years old and coached him in his last full season of midget for the Chiefs U18s before Bains made the jump to major junior.
He’s also worked with Bains one-on-one for years as a skill-development coach.
“He’s an athlete, he’s a player, he’s always wanted to be a pro,” Jackson said.
Lots of young players have that ambition, but his work ethic has always been what sets him apart from his peers, Jackson added. As a younger player he did not stand out like some young players do, but he has been relentless in honoring his talents.
“He’s just been this mature young man since I met him,” he said. “He lives in the rink, he’s non-stop working at his craft. He doesn’t go out and screw around. He’s out there with a purpose.
“I know his family well. I think his family has taught him some great values in life, ”he said, adding he’d spoken with Bains’ father Kuldeep. “His dad’s almost in tears. His dad is a pretty amazing, giving guy.”
Jackson and Bains worked again this summer on his skills and now Bains also helps Jackson at the long-time coach’s skills camps.
If Red Deer’s season ends before the Abbotsford Canucks’ campaign does, he’d be eligible to sign a try-out contract to finish out the season in the AHL.
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