Image via DaveArt [dot] com.
It’s September 2nd, which means that we currently find ourselves in the ‘calm before the storm’ phase of the summer. Our prospect series – which seems to have done a passable job of taking your attention away from the largely uneventful August – concluded last week, and we’re still a few days away from the Young Stars Classic in Penticton.
Things will ramp up in both intensity and entertainment value soon enough, but until then, something like "Mask design of potential backup goaltender Joacim Eriksson revealed!" is a headline that has some legs around these parts. I’m sure you understand.
Eriksson – a former draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, who came to terms with the Canucks on a two-year deal back in June – was pegged as our 11th ranked prospect in the team’s system. While he has his work cut out for him in terms of securing a spot behind Roberto Luongo to start the year, it has much more to do with the business side of things, and less to do with his actual ability to stop the puck. Canucks fans are all too aware of how that works by now.
He’s on a 2-way contract, and would make significantly less money should he be sent down to the
Wolves Comets. The guy he’s vying for the spot with, Eddie Lack, is on a one-way deal this season, and is set to become an RFA next summer. As things currently stand, I’d expect the team to give Lack the shot to start the year so that they can get a closer look at what they have in him. After all, he has already dominated the AHL for two years as a starter, while Eriksson has yet to play a single game in North America. But as we know with goaltending in Vancouver, anything can happen, and Lack’s surgically repaired hip could certainly throw a wrench into the plans.
With all that being said, we do have to treat it as an open competition; there’s obviously a reason the Canucks and Eriksson were able to come to terms on a deal, because it’s pretty clear that he had other options while he was on the open market.
It all starts this weekend in Penticton, in the aforementioned Young Stars Classic, where Eriksson will have a chance to shine. He will split starts there with invitee Mathieu Corbeil, who is trying to earn a spot as a backup in Utica, himself. Lack will be present at the camp in a reserve role, but isn’t expected to be used. It’s mostly a formality so that the team wouldn’t be forced to invite another unsigned goaltender.
Going forward, I’d expect that they’ll both be given a fair shot to impress the team’s brass all throughout camp, and the preseason, before a final decision is made. That, along with the "riddle down the middle" will be the most interesting subplots to follow throughout September.
If the competition comes down to mask designs, though, it won’t be all that heated a battle, as Eriksson’s newly released mask absolutely puts Lack’s to shame. Dave Gunnarsson, the master of mask design, recently released Eriksson’s new look. As you can see here, it prominently features an Orca, with Johnny Canuck on the side, and a blue, green, and white colour scheme. It also says "Jocke" on the bottom, which is his nickname, apparently. For comparison’s sake, here’s a link to the Lack mask design that I referred to earlier. I’ve got to say that I’m really not a fan, in the slightest. It’s far too tacky for my taste.
If you’re bored, and these sorts of things entertain you, I strongly recommend checking out Dave’s site. It has all sorts of pretty wicked designs on display from all around the league. I’ll leave you with an example to whet your appetite – Cory Schneider’s New Jersey Devils design: