There has been quite a few moving pieces in regards to the Vancouver Canucks‘ goaltending but at the core, the Canucks look reasonably solid between the pipes.
With the departure of Ryan Miller to the Anaheim Ducks and the acquisition of Anders Nilsson from free agency to fill the void, the Canucks have changed their image in the crease almost entirely.
— The Province (@theprovince) June 28, 2017
In the midst of the arrivals and departures, one name remained a constant—Jacob Markstrom, the young man poised to become the Canucks’ full-time starter.
Standing at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Nilsson is a monster protecting the mesh and a talented one at that. Equipped with agility and overall athleticism, Nilsson often challenges shooters with his big frame and leaves little-to-no white for shooters to look for.
His overall record of 29-32-8 does not reflect his talent and can be largely attributed to his constant team changes. Nilsson has bounced around the NHL since his rookie season in 2011-12 with the Islanders; since then he has played for three other teams (Blues, Oilers, Sabres) and even had a brief stint in the KHL during the 2014-15 season with the Ak Bars Kazan, who he led to the Gagarin Cup Final.
If Nilsson can stay grounded and really plant his roots into an organization like the Canucks, I believe he will elevate his game and reach his true potential.
Also standing at 6-foot06 but only weighing in at 196 pounds is Jacob Markstrom, the Canuck’s backup goalie ready to make the leap to a starting role. Markstrom is a big goalie who is praised for his athleticism and poise while under pressure.
For the past two seasons, Markstrom has been the trusted backup of the Canucks and learned a lot while under the aforementioned Ryan Miller. With AHL, NHL and international experience, the now-27-year-old is unarguably experienced and debatably ready to take over as the number one.
Vancouver recently just locked in Markstrom for a three-year term and have the Canucks faithful excited to see what he can do in a more prominent role.
Who will be the Canucks’ starting goalie for the 2017-18 season?
In four seasons of NHL play, Nilsson has played in 78 games (67 starts) while Markstrom, in seven seasons, has played in 109 games (96 starts), so their NHL experience levels are arguably fairly similar. Both Markstrom and Nilsson have losing records and virtually identical statistics across the board, so who gets the torch?
You can’t help but lean towards Markstrom as he has been in the organization for the better part of four seasons now while Nilsson is the new guy. However, the notion of splitting the starting position isn’t completely off the table just yet.
If Markstrom and Nilsson needed any sort of incentive to play their best hockey, it would be created by Thatcher Demko, one of the best goalie prospects in the NHL. Demko was selected by the Canucks 36th overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft and has been recognized as the future of the Canucks’ crease.
— PHPA (@thephpa) May 16, 2017
With Demko making a name for himself down in the AHL with the Utica Comets, it has to light a fire under Markstrom and Nilsson and hopefully inspire a next-level competitiveness in the duo.
Demko will likely make his way into the NHL within two or three seasons and with Nilsson being signed to a two-year deal and Markstrom locked in for three years, they will certainly be pressured to earn and hold down a spot on the Canucks’ roster.
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.