Eddie Lack is Good, and he's Staying in North America

Thomas Drance
July 16 2012 09:10AM

 
Should the Canucks roll with this goaltending tandem next season?
(September 30, 2010 - Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America)

Yesterday was the deadline for restricted free agents to accept their qualifying offers. Among Vancouver's RFAs that remain unsigned (only Dale Weise and Eddie Lack), neither player accepted their qualifying offer. Of the two, hot-shot goaltending prospect Eddie Lack is easily the highest profile.

The News1130 Twitter account has breathlessly covered this formal adventure in paperwork, but structurally it remains very much likely that Eddie Lack will return to the Canucks organization next season. If Lack had accepted his qualifying offer, he'd have been entitled to a 10% raise, meaning he'd have cost the team 660k if he played in the NHL next season. That's a paltry amount to pay for one of the best goaltenders in the American Hockey League, so it's not surprising that Lack didn't accept his QO. 

Read past the jump for more!

And don't worry, the rumours or "rumblings" of Lack returning to Sweden are unfounded. I had a couple of conversations with Swedish based hockey wrtiers about Eddie Lack this weekend, and while some had heard his name tossed around in rumours, none of them took the possibility of Eddie Lack returning to the SEL very seriously. Uffe Bodin of hockeysvirge.se even contacted Eddie Lack's representatives at AMA Sports Agency and was told in no uncertain terms, "Eddie's in North America to stay."

The more intriguing bit of uncertainty regarding Lack is not whether or not he'll return to the Canucks organization next season, he will, but in what capacity?

Eddie Lack is Pretty Good

In an effort to find an "equivalency number" for goaltenders, math whiz Rob Pettapiece of NHLNumbers and the CISBlog, crunched a metric tonne of AHL shot data, and determined how AHL goalies fared against NHL shooters last season. The post is absolutely a "must read" for hockey stats geeks. 

Anyway, Rob's findings were extremely flattering to Vancouver's prized RFA netminder. Here's the top-5 goaltenders by "save percentage against NHLers" (at least 300 shots faced):

Name               Team        Shots    Sv%  Age
Eddie Läck         Chicago       529   .922   23
Jeff Zatkoff       Manchester    390   .921   24
Michael Leighton   Adirondack    552   .920   30
Jacob Markstrom    San Antonio   403   .918   21 
Dustin Tokarski    Norfolk       475   .918   22

That's pretty exciting. Last season, in terms of shots faced by NHL players, Lack outdueled his former teammate Jacob Markstrom, bluechip prospect Dustin Tokarski, along with several other players who are likely to see significating time in the AHL next season (including Michael Leighton and Ben Scrivens). This is the stuff of small samples, so I wouldn't use it to conclude that Lack is definitively "NHL ready." But I have to think that Lack's performance against higher-end AHLers augers well for his development.

Writes Rob:

Aside from his age, Läck's performance is particularly impressive given that he faced more shots from NHLers than all but six AHL goaltenders overall, and more than eight of the nine other players on this list. We can run the risk of taking this too far, obviously -- 529 shots is the equivalent of only about 15 to 18 games -- but if you're looking to argue in favour of his NHL readiness, a .922 is certainly better to see here than an .892.
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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 DCR
July 16 2012, 01:34PM
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You know, when I first heard Lack rejected his qualifying offer I had no clue people thought it meant he was leaving.

I just thought it meant he thought he had enough leverage that he didn't have to take the Canucks' first offer - which you have to know would be the minimum possible.

So he doesn't want to be lowballed - can't blame him.

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#2 DDD
July 17 2012, 01:28AM
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While your article did shed some light on the Lack situation (and alleviate a few worries), one question remains is that, as an RFA, Lack can still field offer sheets from other NHL teams. Now, even though the goalie market is fairly saturated at this point, with Bernier, Luongo, and others still being available, Lack could potentially be a good option for a team picking up a back-up with a high ceiling (cough Burke). How do the Canucks handle the idea of an offer sheet from another team looming over their heads (methinks a team may offer 1.5-2mil for Lack's services, and with the Canucks only having around 3 million in cap space, it would be a very tight fit, especially since Gillis is looking to add a forward)?

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