— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) November 27, 2012
Going into this AHL season, it was presumed that a major strength for the Canucks’ AHL affilliate the Chicago Wolves would be between the pipes. So far that strength hasn’t materialized, as goaltenders Eddie Lack and Matt Climie have struggled through the first twenty games and both are sporting sub-.900 save percentages.
Today the Wolves announced that they’ve recalled highly regarded first year pro Joe Cannata (eh?) from the Kalamazoo Red Wings of the ECHL. Cannata was impressive in a late season AHL apperance last spring, but has had a sluggish start to his ECHL career posting a 2-3 record and a .892 save percentage in five games.
Read on past the jump.
Now before we read too much into this decision (is it a showcase? Do the Canucks think they’ll be making a trade involving a goaltender in the not too distant future?) it seems like Cannata is being called up primarily as injury relief. As Paul La Tour reported today, Eddie Lack has suffered a lower-body injury, presumably while doing the Lack dance:
Cannata’s promotion came because Lack suffered lower body injury and is listed day-to-day. Not sure when injury occurred. #ChicagoWolves
— Paul LaTour (@platour68) November 27, 2012
So Cannata’s call up is very probably an "insurance" move, rather than the tip of a Luongo trade iceberg or something similarly sexy. That said, if the NHL and the NHLPA somehow manage to hammer out an agreement in the next couple of weeks: one has to wonder what impact Lack’s struggles and recent health concerns could have on the Canucks’ thinking regarding a Luongo trade and the need for a backup should that long-anticipated transaction occur.
One last qualifier on Eddie Lack and his struggles – I look at his low save percentage number with some suspicion. Besides the obvious "sample size" issues, it’s likely that his save percentage is in part a product of the Chicago Wolves’ extraordinarily permissive penalty-killing, which is chugging along at an atrocious 75.4% success rate through 19 games. Sadly, the AHL doesn’t record separate data for situational shots against, so we’re flying blind in regards to Lack’s even-strength save percentage. I’d wager, however, that it’s more respectable than his .898 overall save percentage (even-strength sv% is less variable than total sv%, and matters somewhat more to me when evaluating goaltender performance).