Why a hot market for Rangers’ Cam Talbot could result in the Canucks trading Eddie Lack

Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks discussed their goaltending situation at pro-meetings last week, and it would seem that they’ve decided to keep Ryan Miller and deal one of their two less experienced netminders Jacob Markstrom or Eddie Lack.

“Markstrom is ready to be an NHL goalie now,” Benning said in a radio appearance on TSN 1040 on Wednesday, via Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province. “I want to keep Ryan and we’ll decide on either Lack or Markstrom.”

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You’ll notice a key formulation from that quote is that “we’ll decide” is in the present tense, as if a decision hasn’t been made yet. It makes sense: why would you decide to trade one goaltender instead of the other if you haven’t explored specifically what the market will look like? When you’re looking to decide between which of two assets to liquidate, it’s tough to do a cost-benefit analysis without knowing the precise market value of what you’re holding. 

So we know, or at least strongly suspect, that at the moment the Canucks haven’t decided which one of Lack or Markstrom to deal. We tend to believe that the club would rather keep Lack all things being equal, but of course, all things aren’t equal. 

Lack is an unrestricted free agent following this upcoming season, and if you’re keeping him, you’re likely keeping with an extension that could cost $4 million per year or so. That leaves the Canucks in a situation where they’re carrying a tonne money in goal between Miller and Lack for the 2016-17 season. Markstrom is cost controlled, meanwhile, for another few years.

So Markstrom has the salary cap structure angle working in his favour, whereas Lack has the ‘is clearly a dependable NHL goaltender and maybe could have NHL starter upside’ angle working in his. What it may come down to is market price, and apparently one goaltender generating a tonne of interest is Cam Talbot.

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Here’s what Darren Dreger of TSN said of the trade market for goaltenders during an appearance on TSN 690. The transcript comes to use courtesy the all-hearing ears of Mr. Chris Nichols and todaysslapshot.com:

It’s a tough market. It really is. You know who the teams are who are somewhat desperate, frankly, for goaltending. To me, I see two at the top of the list and that’s Edmonton and Buffalo. I know Peter Chiarelli is working pretty hard to nail down a goalie and he’s got Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers in his crosshairs. Robin Lehner, to some degree, out of Ottawa. Maybe John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. Eddie Lack is definitely in play and the list gets a lot longer than that.

Now, we’re not talking about game-stealers, but Edmonton and Buffalo are in a different scenario here. Those are teams that can afford a relatively young goalie. But Cam Talbot, what is he – 26, 27 years of age. That’s usually the time where a goalie shows his development and where he’s at. Do they get much better past 27? Yeah, potentially. But you’ve got a real strong indication of where they’re headed by that time, and that’s why Talbot is so highly-regarded.

But beyond that, I don’t hear any bigger names from a goaltending perspective. But even those players – the New York Rangers, based on the interest they’re getting in Cam Talbot, they’re just giggling in the background. They know he’s a good goalie. They know that. But they’re going to hit a home run on rate of return.

So in terms of the market, that’s about where it’s at for the goalies.

The key part of Dreger’s spiel here is where he discusses why a player like Talbot makes more sense for teams like Edmonton and Buffalo. The argument is that Talbot isn’t much of a question mark. He’s a young veteran and you sort of know what you’re getting. 

That pretty much applies to Lack too, no? Lack is a bit younger than Talbot, but he has more NHL experience. Talbot’s NHL performance is better as he’s managed a save percentage north of .930 in under 60 games of work while facing fewer than 1600 total shots. Lack has played more though and in tougher circumstances between a far worse defensive team. In 82 games the Swedish netminder has managed a .917 save percentage.

Talbot’s numbers at the NHL level are superior, but that stellar performance has been done over a small sample of games played and shots faced. So the body of work we’re left to evaluate is smaller than Lack’s. In other words we probably know a bit more about Lack’s true talent level than we know of Talbot’s. 

It’s also worth pointing out that Lack was elite in over 110 games in the American League. His .923 AHL save percentage compares favourably to Talbot’s .914, which the Rangers backup posted over a similar sample of work.

Honestly if I’m looking at Talbot and Lack, I think Lack is at worst a close comparable, and really, I think there’s an argument to be made that he could be the better goaltender. 

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If Dreger is right and the Rangers are going to be able to hit a home run with Talbot, largely because he’s seen as a safe bet, then you’d expect the same rough logic to apply to Lack.

If the market for Lack is active, and the Canucks are able to recoup a decent asset for the personable 27-year-old puck stopper, it might tilt the arithmetic in favour of retaining Markstrom.

  • Chungus

    The problem with this, is the assumption that Dreger is right.

    Dreger is not known as an insider as his information is usually pure conjecture.

    I’m not sure what he considers a home run but I highly doubt Talbot will be getting a Varlamov or Schneider level of return.

  • Mantastic

    the rangers don’t have to move Talbot but Vancouver does have to move one of Lack or Markstorm. Vancouver is dealing from a place of weakness, thus inherit value is lower on any goaltender they trade, however Lack does have the highest value of the 3.

  • Mantastic


    LACK 2ND ROUNDER 31-40



  • Gunnar

    Lack is worth an early 2nd rounder on his own merits. If the oilers want him its has to be the 33rd pick, inter division sweetener in effect here.

    Ok, huge homer moment, can the canucks not attempt to make a huge splash here with edmonton. Offer up Hamhuis, Lack, Corrado, and the rights to Matthais for Draisaitl, Nikitin, and any dead prospect contract the oil are willing to give up so the numbers work.

    Hamhuis played for the oilers coach and star players at the Worlds and seemed to really mesh with all of them so theres a level of familiarity there. Edmonton is close to Smithers/Prince George friends, family, and his investment. Chance to play with MacDavid and compete for Cup so he’s as likely to want to play and resign there as anywhere right?

    Lack fills the oilers goalie problem.

    Corrado is another NHL ready d-man with the kind of game that would blend well with the oiler talent. Canucks management doesn’t seem high on him, here is chance to max asset worth

    Matthais is a player that oilers fans, blogs, and radio have talked about per suing so let them have early start.

    They get all this which addresses most of their needs and still leaves them with the 16th over all and their other assets to find an additional D-man and we take Nitikin, a player who will make canuck fans finally appreciate Sbsia, off there hands all for the price of little o Draisaitl.

    Yeah it will never happen because no GM has that kind of balls plus several hundred other reasons that i’m not privy to. But if the canucks have to move the most beloved goalie since oh i don’t know TIME. A player of Draisaitl’s ability is about the only thing that would sooth the pain.

    • yvr_guy

      I think your proposed trade deserves a B+

      However, it won’t fly because Benning and Chiarelli are cut from the same cloth, and so probably love and hate the same types of players.

    • Mantastic

      if you aren’t throwing in your 2015th 1st round pick, you are delusional. you don’t trade a 3rd overall pick for a bunch of UFA’s and non-proven prospect, you might as well ask for McDavid and Nuge.

    • I really like your trade proposal. Except wedon’t want Nikitin and I’m sure we won’t be getting anything for Matthias. How about Lack, Hamhuis, Corrado and Jensen for Draisatl and a 2nd round pick. Though I doubt Edmonton wants Jensen. Works out to Draisatl for Lack & Hammer and Jensen/Corrado fora 2nd round pick. Or Lack & Hammer for Edmontons 1st (from Pittsburgh)and a prospect. we keep Corrado and Edmonton keeps Draisatl.

  • Mantastic

    Well Benning knew what he was getting into with signing Miller.

    I doubt they will get a high second for Lack. He is a cult hero in Van that has played well, but if he is mentioned in terms of Talbot then a lower 2 /3rd is probably more realistic. Those picks have have somewhere between a 10-15% chance of playing in the NHL?

    I really hope Benning is trying to clear cap room. If you want to help the goaltending signing a guy like Franson to play on a second pairing with Hammer would do it. Sbisa dropped to 3/4th pair automatically improves goal.

  • Have to say for an analytics-focused site CA tends to lapse way too easily into picking apart GM comments for meaning. Please acknowledge that this approach is a methodology, and an extremely flawed one unless you can provide evidence otherwise.

  • orcasfan

    Somehow I doubt Benning would want to send a goalie to the Oilers. I imagine Talbot is going to be their target. Benning should look East – how about Islanders, or Buffalo, or Philadelphia, or, even, Pittsburgh?

  • orcasfan

    Benning sold the Aqulinis on the lets improve and sneal into the 8th spot for playoff revenues. To give a playoff underperformer 18million over 3 yrs and not try to admit this error,stinks!
    Also Benning claimed to try and mold us after the Bruins mold,yet Calgary exposed our lack of team toughness and no Dorsett is not the answer no matter how much rookie coach Desjardins plays him over extended minutes. Tom Sestito would have been a good fit against Ferland. We need to trade Hamhuis,he is totally overratted and a real liability on the back end,but our problems stem from the main fact we are not doing everything to risk being great but insted just mediocre.
    Look part of our main powerplay issues are simple, Henrik never wins the faceoff in the opposing zone and the puck comes down the icee there goes 25-30 seconds trying to get back into the right zone. Rookie coach who is stubborn,a gm who is stubborn and an aging team with little size/grit,what do we think we will see this yr? Trade the better goalie in Lack because the gm will not admit he overpaid Miller,continue wasting precious cap space on this aging tender, no wonder we can not get out of the first round. Play Virtanen.Cassels get rid of Wille/Jim thats the only real hope we got.

    • orcasfan

      Wow that is a load…. Readers out there figure out which type?

      As a professional sports team you can try to win, rebuild or like geniuses like your self believe…. Just fade away everyone and be pathetic.

      In which profession do you excel? mr Cruise? Probably Government, since it’s the only industry that gets more $ the more it fails.
      Pretty sure you are an Oilers fan….

    • orcasfan

      Hammer was invited to join a gold medal winning Team Canada and a World Cup team for Canada…… Who over rated him?

      I would like to subscribe to your delusional newsletter Mr Cruise

    • Gunnar

      I wrote the same thing about Tommy against Ferland.I watched him here in Utica and you could tell he was not 100% but he would have been by playoffs and would of took care of Ferland

  • elvis15

    JFR,I am not an oiler fan,infact it made me sick they got the number1 pick again and this time there is no way they do not finally make huge strides and surpass us because its Conner Mcd.
    Itdoesn.t matter if Hamhuis was invited to team canada,infact he was the odd man out a lot there. If you really watched nuck games without rose colored glasses you would see the nights he was on for 4-5 goals, got caught on the wrong side of the ice or caught pinching in the offensive zone.
    Regardless if he stays or not this team will be hardpressed to get into the playoffs this yr with Dallas,LA,Edmonton all improving greatly from last yr.
    What would be more acceptable would be dealing Miller, going with Virtanen,McCann,OR Cassels and missing the playoffs but improving the team bigtime in the following yrs. A government job? Hardly but you are just the kind of lemming the nuck management loves, follow Bennings hype!

  • elvis15

    Say how many goals and assists did your beloved Hamhuis get while enjoying 2nd line powerplay time all yr? Yup not much offensive production at all JFR. We should have kept Jason Garrison instead,bigger, offensively gifted and local,now thats the real truth