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Summer ice and workouts for Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains, still shooting for NHL debut with Canucks

For his rookie-season games in Abby last year, he commuted from family home in Surrey
Abbotsford Canucks forward Arshdeep Bains, a Surrey resident, fights through a Coachella Valley Firebirds checker during AHL action in November 2022. (File photo: Ben Lypka/Black Press Media)

Arshdeep Bains says he’s putting in work this summer to be a better hockey player come fall.

As a rookie pro with Abbotsford Canucks last season, the Surrey-raised winger scored 13 goals and added 25 assists in 66 AHL games, plus a couple of tallies — both of them shorthanded during a game in Calgary — in the playoffs. In the end he was fifth in Abby team scoring with 38 points.

Those are decent numbers for a newbie, but the 22-year-old Bains knows he’ll have to be better to make the leap to the parent NHL club in Vancouver.

“I think I’m headed in the right direction, and that’s exactly what I want to do if I’m given the chance,” Bains said during a recent phone call. “My goal is obviously to play in the NHL, be an NHLer, so however I can do that I’m willing to sacrifice and have a good summer here, trying to get better.”

He’s been working out at Rogers Arena and skating at Burnaby’s Scotia Barn with other Canucks prospects. Summer training for Bains includes hikes and other outdoor activities, and watching what he eats, too.

“They want me to be bigger and stronger, and that involves nutrition,” he said. “I just have to trust them and the plan, and everything is there at Rogers. It’s a pretty good setup.”

Surrey, a midway stop between Abbotsford and Vancouver, is where he lived last season, at his family home — something Bains hadn’t done since before his five years of WHL hockey in Red Deer with the Rebels.

“It was only 25 minutes so it was worth it to stay there (in Surrey), and it was nice to be in the situation that I didn’t get to do in junior,” Bains said. “I’m super tight with my family and I found my own space — it wasn’t like I was being fed by my parents. I had to grow up and make my own meals and stuff. It was nice to be at home but kinda have my own space, too.”


Arshdeep Bains in March 2022 when he signed an entry-level contract with Vancouver Canucks. (Photo:
Arshdeep Bains in March 2022 when he signed an entry-level contract with Vancouver Canucks. (Photo:

As a young teen Bains played a season at Delta Hockey Academy before transitioning to the local “zone” league with Vancouver North East Chiefs and Valley West, then Red Deer.

He was the WHL scoring champion in 2021-22, with 43 goals and 69 assists, and became the first player of South Asian descent to win the Bob Clarke Trophy as top sniper. By March 2022, those stats led to an entry-level deal with the Canucks.

• READ MORE: Surrey’s Bains signs with Canucks after high-scoring season in WHL.

• READ ALSO: Living at rink ‘a cool opportunity’ for Surrey’s Bains and WHL teammates.

Last fall Bains had goals going into his first season of pro hockey.

“Not necessarily points, but I wanted to get better every week, so throughout the season I achieved most of the things I wanted to do and I’m pretty excited moving forward,” he elaborated.

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I first played in Abby,” Bains continued. “But as soon as the season started it wasn’t the same as in Red Deer where I’d play minutes in all situations. So I came in and had to adjust, making sure that I took advantage of every opportunity I got. I learned that pretty quickly, getting scratched, things like that. I felt a bit more desperate to make the most of those minutes, knowing that people are fighting for jobs.”

AHL players are fast and smart, he said, and always pushing the pace.

“It was good to get that first year under my belt, to know what I have to improve going into next year,” Bains noted.

• RELATED, from 2022: Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains chasing pro hockey dream in Abbotsford.

Ahead of the NHL Entry Draft on June 28, Bains was ranked 10th among Vancouver Canucks prospects by CanucksArmy writer Chris Faber, who likes the player’s high hockey IQ and “nasty” playmaking abilities.

“Making the jump from major junior to the AHL has been a pretty seamless transition for the 22-year-old lifetime Canucks fan,” Faber wrote a few months ago. “Bains had a couple of speedbumps in the early part of his rookie AHL season but has really found a groove over the past couple of months.

“He likely won’t become a top-six contributor at the NHL level,” Faber added, “but with his playmaking skill and intelligence in the defensive zone, we could see Bains getting a run in the Canucks’ bottom six at some point next season.”

Also on Bains’ radar this summer is the imminent release of “Out of the Stands,” a documentary movie about him and other South Asian Canadians trying to find success in hockey. Co-directed and produced by Baljit Sangra and Nilesh Patel, the film should be out by mid-August, Sangra says, after a delay of nearly a year. Look for updates on

• READ ALSO: Sign up now to golf with the Canucks in Surrey, for $1,500 per player.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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