Canucks goalie Eddie Lack is likely to be dealt before or during the NHL draft, for a number of reasons that make sense for the franchise. The business of the potential move is a hard one for Canucks fans to swallow, as over 1,400 people in Vancouver have signed a petition to keep the fan favorite Lack in town.
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) June 24, 2015
Lack’s trade value is much higher right now than that of Jacob Markstrom, who has also been rumored to be traded. The Canucks currently have about $5 million in cap space, and aren’t in a position to take on more NHL talent at the moment if Lack is to be dealt, who has a cap hit of $1.15 million with one year left on his contract. GM Jim Benning has also made it clear in recent weeks that his team is hoping to retain at least a second or third round pick during the draft, as after their 23rd overall pick, the Canucks won’t pick again until the fourth round.
While Eddie Lack has never completely broken away from his counterparts to take the Canucks starting goalie job, there’s no question he would be the man on the rebuilding Sabres. Buffalo finished off last season with Chad Johnson and Anders Lindback backstopping their club, which on several teams would be a minor league goalie tandem. Johnson is the only goalie Buffalo has secured for next season. It’s no secret that the Sabres are likely to pick up a goalie before the NHL draft concludes and 27-year-old Lack might be the most fitting option. Buffalo also has more than $29 million in cap space to work with, and getting Lack would clearly be a low risk, high reward option. The Sabres currently have four picks in the first two rounds, and acquiring any of the 21st, 31st, or 51st overall picks from the Sabres is an appealing prospect for Vancouver.
Like the Sabres, a trade to the Oilers would put Lack in a position to take a starting goalie role on a dire rebuilding team. Edmonton has been dreadful for quite some time and their goalie-carousel situation is no exception, having used 10 different netminders in the last three seasons. The Oilers were hopeful heading into last season with Ben Scrivens and Victor Fasth backstopping them, but both goalies had a GAA over 3.00 and SV% under .900. Fasth is a UFA and Scrivens still has one year remaining with a $2.3 million cap hit, which could allow Lack to slide right into a starting position. With a new GM in Peter Chiarelli, and new head coach in Todd McLellan, the Oilers now have experienced winners in these positions and could finally be on their way to turning their team around. Acquiring Lack and Connor McDavid with their first overall pick would instantly put the Oilers in a better situation. And, like Buffalo, Edmonton has four picks in the first two rounds, which apart from 1st overall include 16th, 33rd and 57th. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Benning and the Canucks try to lock down one of Edmonton’s second round picks.
San Jose Sharks
Last season was as messy for the Sharks as any team, and presents yet another trade destination where Lack has the opportunity to be a starter. It’s up in the air on both sides whether Sharks’ starter Antti Niemi will return next season. San Jose still has Alex Stalock under contract for one year with a $1.6 million cap hit, but won’t be any more than a back up next season. Even if the Sharks resigned their UFA Niemi, they could run he and Lack as a 1A-1B tandem, which Lack has proved to have success with in his career. The Sharks have the 9th and 39th overall picks in this year’s draft, but won’t pick again until 106th. While likely not willing to part ways with their 9th, the Sharks’ 39th overall pick would have to be involved at the very least for Vancouver.
Although it may be a hard pill for Canucks fans to swallow, both Eddie Lack and the Vancouver Canucks could benefit if Lack is dealt at the NHL draft. It’s hard to determine just how high Lack’s ceiling is, as he has had remarkable streaks for the Canucks but has never become the sole starter, which he could very well be given somewhere else. Regardless, Benning won’t settle for anything less than a second round pick at the draft for Lack, and with good reason. If the Canucks were to give the likes of the Sabres, Oilers or Sharks a potential starting goalie, you would expect more coming back than just a second rounder.
Benning has expressed that the team may not make a goalie move at the draft, but expects to do so by the start of next season. One thing the Canucks need to do is consider the possible impacts of moving any goalies. They already have a reliable tandem in Miller and Lack, and don’t necessarily need to change it.
Only time will tell just what kind of moves (or Lack of moves) the Canucks will make heading into the NHL draft