The goalie saga just never seems to die in Vancouver.
Jim Benning made it clear yesterday on TSN 1040 that one of either Eddie Lack or Jacob Markstrom would be traded before the beginning of next season. The decision won’t quite be as impactful as the one Gillis had to make between Schnieder and Luongo, but, nonetheless, Benning has a tough decision to make between two young Swedish netminders.
Eddie Lack was solid for the Canucks after Ryan Miller went down with injury in February. He went 12-6-2 down the stretch, and his play was one of the main reasons why the Canucks claimed second spot in the Pacific division.
Jacob Markstrom just finished up a stellar season with the Utica Comets of the AHL, where he led the team to the Calder Cup Finals. Even though the Comets lost the series in five games, there was talk that Markstrom could possibly be the playoff MVP. That talk died after he allowed six goals in game four.
Why Not Trade Miller?
Moving Ryan Miller seems like the logical thing to do. The Canucks are already wavering close to the cap ceiling, and they still have some work left to do. With three NHL-ready goalies, why not trade the one with the largest contract and the least potential?
Aside from that, Miller also came off of a fairly serious injury last season, which kept him sidelined until right before the start of the playoffs. He will be 35-years-old at the start of next season, so it’s safe to assume his play may be in decline.
Despite the logic in trying to shop Miller, Benning all but guaranteed that Miller will be staying with the Canucks next season. He wants to play it safe by keeping a veteran netminder in Vancouver.
“I don’t feel comfortable going into the season with two younger goalies who haven’t had the experience of being the number one guy, especially in this marketplace,” Benning said Wednesday afternoon on TSN 1040.
Who Gets Dealt?
The signs point to Lack being traded. Despite the fact that he was arguably the Canucks best goalie last season, Benning has been raving about Markstrom’s performance down in Utica. After spending four weeks watching the Utica Comets playoff run, Benning is positive that Markstrom is now ready for the NHL. If he is right, this will assuredly be Markstrom’s last shot at sticking in the NHL. After being labelled as a franchise goalie of the future in Florida, Markstrom has yet to make a significant impact at the NHL level.
Throughout his career he has thrived at the AHL level, but has failed to carry that over to the NHL. It may have some teams hesitating on giving up a lot to get him if Benning decides to trade him.
That being said, Markstrom just produced his most impressive season in pro hockey. He posted gaudy numbers in the regular season with a 1.88 GAA and a .933 Sv%, and followed that up with an impressive performance in the playoffs.
Still, with Lack’s NHL success, he would likely bring back more in a deal. It’s a shame for Canucks fans, because Eddie Lack has the perfect mentality to deal with the pressure of being a goalie in Vancouver. The fans love his infectious persona and reflect that with their “Eddie” chants at almost every home game.
It won’t be an easy decision for Benning. With the draft coming up upon us quickly, memories of the moves he made at last year’s draft are coming to mind. With a goalie to deal and draft picks desired, Benning will likely be a busy man at the draft once again.
KPU Journalism Graduate. Trevor has been writing for The Hockey Writers since October 2014. He has contributed articles related to the Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and other issues/stories regarding the game of hockey. Trevor currently lives in White Rock, B.C.