Canucks Sign Markstrom to Two-Year Deal

Vancouver’s busy afternoon continues, as the club announced that they have re-signed goaltender Jacob Markstrom to a two-year contract. With Eddie Lack now a Carolina Hurricane, Markstrom will be expected to play a significant role next season.

Let’s have a look after the jump.

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Jim Benning has expressed confidence in Markstrom numerous times this summer, saying that the no-longer-young goalie is “ready now” to play in the NHL. Certainly Markstrom’s AHL performance to date is reflective of a guy who’s capable of being a full-time NHLer, as he’s dominated the minors for years now. Last season, Markstrom posted an incredible 0.934 save percentage in the regular season, before following that up with a 0.925 in the playoffs – his best “crunch time” performance to date.

We also know that Markstrom has made significant adjustments to his game this past year, working on being more on top of the play and tracking pucks better, so we know he’s a different goalie than the one that arrived in Vancouver in 2013-14. Unfortunately, his AHL performance was just more of the same from him, so we can’t say with any certainty that Markstrom is better.

And to even be a viable backup, Markstrom has to get much, much better. He’s been among the very worst goalies to play in the NHL since 2010, and while this may be partly variance driven, it doesn’t change the fact that his performance needs to get much better in extremely short order. Based on prior NHL performance and basic goalie aging models, Vancouver is more likely than not to be among the worst goaltended teams in the NHL this upcoming season. And with a leaky defense, that could be absolutely disastrous.

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Two years and $1.55 million per season isn’t much of a commitment to make to an NHL goalie though, so this deal doesn’t pose too much of a financial risk. If Markstrom can finally translate his game to the NHL level, he could prove to be a bargain.

That’s a massive “if,” however.

  • peterl

    I predict the Lack lovers will be out in full force everytime Markstrom lets in a goal or loses a game. smh

    As an aging Canucks fan though with all my years of watching this team/goalies, I got a hunch Markstrom turns it on come mid-season after he shakes off the nervousness and realizes Willie won’t send him down after one bad game.

    All he needs is an NHL win and that should inspire confidence in him, confidence being one of the biggest factors for a goalie to succeed in this league.

  • TrueBlue

    Let’s be fair — Markstrom’s performance in the NHL since 2010 includes four brief stops with one of the worst teams in the NHL (Florida) and basically 7 games of spot/mop-up duty with the Canucks over two seasons. Clearly he didn’t have the trust of our coaching staff but we also squandered an opportunity (this season at least) to see what the effect of the technical refinements was going to be. I think Markstrom went a long way especially in the Calder Cup playoffs towards satisfying the Canucks management that he’d recovered his form. There’s a reason that he was once one of the top goaltending prospects in the world, he’s still 25, we got him at a very reasonable price (a lot better than say paying $6 million for a hack like Miller) and I think it’s lazy to keep trotting out the “terrible NHL goalie” narrative, as if he was a starter on a good team the last six years. Let’s see how he does with a real opportunity. I would be surprised if he gets less than 30 games this year.

  • peterl

    It seems weird to deal a proven NHL commodity in Eddie Lack and then hope the “magic beans” (Markstrom) develops into an NHL goaltender. If the difference was money, as JB suggested in interviews, it really only is the 2016-2017 NHL season that Eddie Lack and Ryan Miller would both be under expensive contracts. If proper pedigree goes through, Markstrom is making big bucks by 2017-2018 when Miller’s contract is expired.

    Comparison from today! Stars signed Niemi for 3 years, have Lehtonen for 3 more years. They are doing a platoon goalie dance for 3 years. Canucks would only have to do that for 1 year if they retained Lack. (suggested 10 million combined Miller/Lack, 10.4 million combined Niemi/Lehtonen)

    JB and management must think extremely highly of Markstrom (or poorly of Eddie Lack) to go through with this plan. Or they think really highly of a third round pick…

  • TrueBlue

    This is moving towards a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of scenario.

    On one hand, I’d be thrilled if we dropped out of the playoffs and slipped into the top ten, even top 5 next year.

    On the other hand, that means Markstrom is not working out, our younger defense prospecta are not adjusting well, and the youth we inject into the forward line-up is faltering against NHL-level competition.

    If this was the plan and management prepared the fanbase for this result by tempering expectations, then fine.. we’d be all “it’s happening just like they said, we’ve taken a small step back as we arm up for the future.”

    Instead, we’re going to be told that this team can make the playoffs again, and that making the playoffs is the goal.

    So if we somehow make the playoffs:

    – we add limited resources at the draft with a 15th or higher pick

    If we don’t make it:

    – it’s going to either look like adding younger players to the roster was a mistake, or they’re just not working out

    Either way, I feel like we’re looking forward to a year of everyone screaming at the management team.

  • Steampuck

    Let’s not forget that if it was up to Miller last year, Lack wouldn’t have played more than 10 games all year. It’s a recipe for twin disaster: Miller getting run down and Markstrom not gaining any confidence. I really hope Markstrom picks up 20-25 games over the season.

    • yvr_guy

      Undoubtedly the plan is to play Markstrom in the ballpark of 20 games. The whole point of moving Lack was to eliminate the perception of choice in goal. Miller is the goalie, Markstrom is the back up.

      What will be interesting is the games that Markstrom gets to play, if they will be against bottom dwellers as is the norm with back ups, or if he’ll be thrown in against division leaders a la Lack.

  • d.sampson56

    A history of being mentally shaky at the nhl level. Remember his ten minutes in net last year? If age catches miller this year and markstrom caves along with those 18 even strenght goals from mathias, what is truelly this new regimes outlook?
    In a league of parity that should alone get them in the sweepstakes , but then again they prolly pick one of the good ole boys sons instead of austin mathews

  • Ca-nuckle head

    Give him a chance at least. Seems like a lot of you have written him off before the season even begins. Miller will still be the same, hopefully a bit less hot and cold. If Markstrom does make that jump he could be game changer with his size.

  • Ca-nuckle head

    I must say there is some irony to the whole Markstrom affair. On one hand, Benning gets criticized for not taking risks in the draft yet when he rolls the dice on Markstrom over Lack, he gets roasted.

    • Ca-nuckle head

      This isn’t the problem; the problem is Ryan Miller. a Lack / Markstrom tandem would have been fine with most people though a roll of the dice in its own right.

      Same reason I can’t see the fans turning on Markstrom because of their love for Eddie Lack. Markstrom wasn’t the one who chased Lack out of town. Miller was.

  • andyg

    No, a Lack/Markstrom tandem would not have been fine. You don’t go with two unproven goaltenders. Vancouver needed stability in net. Miller provided that, along with the wins.

    Winners never need to apologize.

      • Not Dressed For Tonight's Game

        I will be the first to admit that I was not excited about getting Miller. However, we needed a proven goaltender last year and Lack had not sufficiently proved himself yet. Miller was actually leading the league at one moment with wins at 21 or something and shortly afterwards got injured. Sometimes he puts up a stinker but for the most part was winning games when healthy.

        Now, the 6 million cap that everyone is complaining about. He is making the amount that is the mid-range amount for goalies league wide. Cam Ward is making 6.3 million, Lehtonen and Varlamov are making 5.9 and Mike Smith is making 5.7. I wouldn’t say Miller is getting vastly overpaid.

        • allsportsfan

          Cam Ward is in last year of his contract, with his play the last few years he won’t be getting another contract like that again. Lehtonen is younger than Miller and that leaves Smith and Varlamov out of the remainder of the 50 plus goalies means he’s an outlier and still overpaid.

          • Not Dressed For Tonight's Game

            I just gave a few examples above, but Miller is being paid as an average starting goaltender.

            The elite: Rask, Lundqvist and Rinne are all getting paid over 7 million. Yeah, there are some under 5 million, Dubnyk, Anderson, Halak, Hiller.

            But the vast majority are between 5 and 7 million: Howard, Luongo, Smith, Quick, Fleury, Lehtonen, Varlamov, Bishop, Schneider, Crawford, Ward and Price.

            You may like some of these other guys more, I know I do. But 6 million is a little overpaid, but not vastly overpaid is my point.

          • allsportsfan

            No problem. I just didn’t think he was an average goalie before he came to the Nucks last year, a depreciating goalie is what I thought and there wasn’t the need to spend $ on that contract. A million here and there adds up.

      • allsportsfan

        6 million? LOL

        The Miller contract pales when compared to Luongos.

        Miller’s contract – like spilled milk on the kitchen floor.

        Luongo’s contract – like someone drove up to your kitchen with a pickup and dumped cow manure all over the floor.

  • andyg

    The fans haven’t even given markstrom a chance. He’s only 25 and has succeeeed at every level of hockey except the NHL so far. He’s 6’6, he’s a giant and part of the reason he hasn’t succeeded is because he played for a horrible defence in Florida and had no confidence from the coaches in Vancouver. Rolly has confidence in him and we should too. A lot of you guys also don’t get that lack didn’t garner a lot of interest around the league. Yeah benning only got a 3rd but no one offered a 2nd. I love lack but since benning was set on keeping miller he had to go. A 3rd was his best choice