Just when you thought the Vancouver Canucks crease carousel was done spinning. Could another goaltender be moved out at the trade deadline?
It’s been an uneasy few years for Vancouver Canucks goaltenders. The back and forth debate for keeping Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider went on for a few seasons before Schneider, thought at one time to be the heir apparent to the Canuck crease, was ultimately dealt to the New Jersey Devils for the 9th pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. That was to be the end of it. Luongo would once again be the top goalie in Vancouver.
As last years trade deadline came then-GM Mike Gillis dropped a second bombshell when he traded the seemingly unmovable contract of Luongo back to the Florida Panthers. Among players coming back to the Vancouver Canucks was young goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom, whom has spent most of his tenure thus far in the AHL as the Canucks went out and signed Ryan Miller as a free agent. Miller and Eddie Lack have held down the back end and helped the Canucks to a tie for 6th place in a loaded Western Conference.
Could Eddie Lack be next?
Which brings us to this year. Markstrom, whom had reportedly asked for a trade after the Canucks brought in Miller, is likely not going anywhere as the Vancouver Canucks are elated with his current pace, which is tearing up the AHL.
As a result new GM Jim Benning has options and needs to consider them all. Miller is entrenched as the starter and has earned that right with his play this season. Keeping Lack and Markstrom provides a level of protection against injuries at the position. That’s certainly a reasonable position to take particularly when looking at the St. Louis Blues when Brian Elliott went down, Pekka Rinne in Nashville, and Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus. Should we bring up Carey Price from last years playoff run in Montreal as well? That injury may have cost the Habs the series and in a tight Western Conference, goaltending can certainly steal you a game or a series.
But with teams so closely packed there is also value in Benning potentially trading Lack or Markstrom for help at other positions. With ten players on pace to go over the twenty point mark, offensive balance doesn’t seem to be an issue. Only one of those players in a defenseman which could bring into play an acquisition to bolster depth and support the power play. Andrej Sekera has been a name increasingly mentioned in trade talks and it seems he is certain to move as the deadline approaches. And Cam Ward isn’t getting any younger, so the Vancouver Canucks may find a dance partner in the Carolina Hurricanes.
Considering Markstrom’s production this season the Canucks don’t sound as interested in trading him as they may have been in the past. Does this leave Eddie Lack as the odd man out in Vancouver? Or do they keep all three players and let Markstrom continue to play and develop in the AHL?
Or do the Vancouver Canucks have something against goaltenders that are excellent on Twitter, as both Lack and Luongo are?
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If you are Benning it’s a luxury to have three NHL caliber goaltenders to call on. But it’s also a calculated risk to keep them if you think there are other positions on your team that need to be upgraded. The Vancouver Canucks have roughly $2.5 million in cap space this season, which is enough to add a piece but the money and length of contracts is going to have to work. Sekera comes with a hit just over that figure so there would be some massaging of contracts that would have to happen. The Canucks could look elsewhere for a cheaper option, but the depth of quality teams in the Western Conference may force Benning to be bold in order to complete. A smart, smooth skater like Sekera would not only bolster the back-end but provide offensive support to the weapons up front.
Moving a goaltender at the trade deadline this year wouldn’t have the same pizzaz that the Schneider or Luongo deals did. Largely because it wouldn’t be several years in the making. But it will play a major role in how far the Vancouver Canucks go in the Stanley Cup playoffs.