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Does Eddie Lack fit into the Vancouver Canucks’ long-term plans?
The Canucks and their old friend Kurt Overhardt, the polarizing player agent who represents Lack, have discussed the possibility of a contract extension. If the numbers don’t make sense though, or if the club decides to go in another direction, they’re open to dealing the 27-year-old netminder at the NHL Entry Draft.
This week Canucks general manager Jim Benning told Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun that in a few weeks time the organization will make a decision on whether or not Lack is part of this club’s future.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning said Tuesday the team will make a decision on its goaltending before the entry draft in June and if Lack isn’t part of the long-term plan, the club will try to trade him rather than risk losing him as an unrestricted free agent after next season.
“We’ve had preliminary talks with Eddie’s agent and we know what it’s going to take to get him signed,” Benning said. “We’re bringing in all our pro scouts and we’ll meet here in the next couple of weeks … and as a group make that decision.”
Benning also agreed with MacIntyre’s assertion that Lack is too good to risk losing in free agency.
Lack is about to enter the final year of a two-year, $2.3 million contract extension that he signed as a pending Group VI unrestricted free agent during the 2013-14 season. Brought into the organization as an undrafted free agent, Lack has posted elite numbers at the AHL level and has shown hints of a goaltender with the potential to be a bona fide starter in the NHL.
That the club has explored the possibility of extending Lack shouldn’t be a huge surprise, particularly considering the way that he dragged the club to the postseason following Ryan Miller’s mid-February knee injury. We shouldn’t be surprised that the club is considering trading the young netminder either. We’ve all heard the rumblings, after all, about the organization’s high regard for third-string goalie Jacob Markstrom.
Goalie drama is never far from the fore when you’re talking about the Canucks, and it would seem that we’re entering yet another phase of it ahead of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
We all know the basic plot points. The Canucks have an entrenched, highly paid starter in Miller, who has two seasons remaining on the 3-year, $18 million contract, which he signed last summer as an unrestricted free agent. The club still has Lack, a reasonably paid backup who has surely earned both a raise and an opportunity to at least split starts for an NHL club.
Finally in Markstrom you have an enigmatic project – an elite AHL puck stopper, whose professional success hasn’t translated to the NHL level. Markstrom is a pending restricted free agent, but he’ll be enormously expensive to qualify because of his odd, hybrid back-loaded contract.
For a variety of reasons, it only makes sense for the club to bring back two of the three.
It’s a complicated situation, and a tough one for the Canucks. Lack is probably the club’s best bet in net, both from an on-ice performance and an off-ice appeal standpoint. On the other hand, it’s really hard to get anything worthwhile back in a trade involving a goaltender, and Lack likely has the most trade value of the club’s three NHL-level goaltenders.
So there’s a lot of factors to balance. If the Canucks are extending Lack, then they’re looking at the highly inefficient likelihood of spending more than $10 million in cap space in goal for the 2016-17 season. Benning has been willing to invest heavily in net, but that’s a steep price for a non-elite tandem.
On the other hand, if they’re trading Lack, then the Canucks are betting that Markstrom’s stellar AHL track record is more indicative of his true talent level than his awful performance in 50 NHL games. On the surface, it seems doubtful that this would be the club’s first choice, considering how reluctant they’ve been to start Markstrom over the past two years.
And surely they’re not trading Miller. It’s clear that the organization believes he’s their No. 1 guy.
However this gets sorted out, and it seems as if it will over the next six or seven weeks, we know one thing for certain: the club isn’t going to net much in an expected goaltender trade.