Joe Cannata Recalled, Will Back Up Markstrom Tuesday

Remember yesterday when the Vancouver Canucks said that Ryan Miller wasn’t injured enough to miss out on Tuesday’s game? 

Yeah, they may have spoken a little bit too soon… 

Canucks, man.

The Situation

If you’ve been a Canucks fan for a long time (which I’m assuming most of you reading have been), you’ve noticed a theme with this team. 

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They seem to have no trouble getting good, young, talent in net. From the early years of Roberto Luongo to Corey Schneider, Jacob Markstrom to Eddie Lack, the Vancouver Canucks have never had their shortage of high hopes when it comes to netminders in the system. 

Their problem, of course, is that they trade all the good young talent away. That leaves the club with guys like 35 year old Ryan Miller, who is inked to an albatross of a contract in what can kindly be called the waning hours of his heyday and can not-so-kindly be called his ‘decline period’, instead of Schneider. Or Lack. Or even Luongo, whose decline seems to be happening at a much slower rate than Miller’s. 

In any case, Miller has been in and out of the lineup since getting inked to his three year deal, battling various injuries that leave the club scrambling to tandem their ‘next chance’ prospects with whomever is second in command at the time. 

Right now, that’s going to be prospect Joe Cannata and backup Jacob Markstrom.

Who is Joe Cannata?

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Drafted by the Canucks in the sixth round (173rd overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Cannata is a Massachusetts-born goaltender who spent his formative years in the NAHL and the NCAA. 

A four year starter for Hockey East’s Merrimack College, Cannata spent his first post-grad year as a pro split between seeing limited starts with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and getting some ice time with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings. 

From there, it looks like he took a step backwards; although his 2013-2014 season was spent exclusively with the Utica Comets, Cannata started for the ECHL’s Ontario Reign last year and only saw AHL ice in five games. His numbers have been consistently good – the 25 year old netminder has never posted a yearly average below a .900 at any level of play higher than the NAHL – but a drop to the ECHL is often viewed as the kiss of death for prospects by fans and media alike. 

Cannata’s situation is somewhat unique, though. 

Like Cory Schneider, Cannata (who, incidentally, trained under Schneider’s goalie coach in Massachusetts as well) went the NCAA route and then fed into his club’s system; he arrived as an older prospect than one who opts for the CHL or comes post-draft from overseas, so it looks like he’s been around forever. To many, that reads ‘bust’. 

The Canucks had a weirdly distributed depth chart in their last few seasons, though. The club brought in both Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom around the same time that Cannata would have been moving to the top of Vancouver’s depth chart, instead relegating Markstrom to the AHL and pushing Cannata back down to the ECHL. Where Cannata probably could have played AHL hockey last year – and ultimately held his own in a recall or two – he sat behind Markstrom in the depth chart. Rather than limiting his starts, the club gave him a full workload in Ontario; smart, but tough on his chances of seeing NHL ice. 

This year, that’s changing. Eddie Lack is in Carolina, Markstrom is in the NHL, and Ryan Miller is still getting hurt. Cannata finally has his call-up, and it’s been a long time coming. 

Statistically Speaking

Cannata boasts a .907 raw save percentage this year at the AHL level over 16 starts, going 9-5-2 in that time and earning both his first AHL shutout and one of the strongest starts to the season earlier in the fall. 

College hockey fans were frustrated by Cannata, because he often kept his team in games that they had no business being in; he’s a calm-demeanored netminder with a relatively conservative style, playing off technique rather than pure reflex and athleticism, and it’s served him well over time. He has a few standout seasons fans could point to as reasons he could succeed if thrown in net for Markstrom at some point this winter, but the best argument is that he’s consistent; while every goaltender has bad games, Cannata has few (if any) bad seasons. 

The hope, obviously, is that $6 million dollar man Ryan Miller is healthy again before Cannata really needs to do anything. It’s curious, though that the Canucks have recalled him over Bachman, though, who got the nod last time a goaltender went down; teams all operate differently, but this could be either good or bad news for Cannata.

It could mean that the Canucks don’t see a need to waste Bachman on a game call-up, which doesn’t bode well for Cannata’s standings with management. It could also mean, though, that the club wants to see if he’s capable of succeeding if he needs to stand in for Markstrom at all – and if he does well, this could be his ‘in’ to stick around for more than just this year. 

The Canucks will see the puck drop tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, heading to Florida for a 7:30 PM EST game start time. This is their last game before the Christmas break. 

  • Andy

    Too bad Eriksson got impatient and left. Bachmann and Cannata are getting NHL callups that he likely would have got since he was ahead of Cannata on the depth chart.

  • Andy

    The guy has been a loyal Canucks foot soldier for a long time. He’s taken every crap assignment with grace and has steadily worked on his game over the years, slow learner but he may be a solid NHL back up. He deserves the call up.

  • josevancouver

    Who knows if Joe Cannata is the next Andrew Hammond? Both played NCAA hockey, both were not considered top NHL prospects. Cannata’s game is aligned well to the style Roland Melanson likes his goalies to play – less athleticism and more angles. I’ve always wondered about Cannata – he was a draft pick and not an undrafted free agent. He’s posted decent numbers wherever he goes. Let’s see how he does. He certainly started the season well with Utica before Bachman came back….and he has better size than Bachman as well, even though he is not overly tall at 6′.

  • RIP

    Seriously “an albatross of a contract”? It is only three years man, and it is old news – let it go. Fact is Miller has been good for us, I have watched every one of his games – he has been hung out to dry in most of his last dozen starts. And injuries happen to everyone – look at Carey Price. Fact is Miller has done what is asked of him and he is only a stop gap measure until Markstrom is ready who is looking excellent. Goaltending is not our problem right now, trading Lack and Schnieder is not our problem right now. Our problem is the team in front of the goalie and you know it.

    • Ruprecht

      Currently injured starting goalies in the NHL.
      R. Miller,
      C. Price,
      MA. Fleury,
      S. Bobrovsky,
      O. Pavelec,
      R. Lehner,
      M. Smith,
      J. Reimer

      Currently injured backups.
      R. Berra,
      A. Raanta,
      J. Berube
      G. Sparks

      That’s 12 injured goalies total and a little over 1/4 of the league’s starters hurt.

      But yeah, let’s blame Miller’s age for him being hurt…and let’s ignore the defensive regression that’s been plaguing this team for the last 5 years. That way we can continue nuthugging the starters and back-ups of the past. None of which have left and led their teams to greener pastures. I totally agree with you RIP the problem isn’t the goalies. Some of the writers might be though.

  • RIP

    If Miller wasn’t run into the ground, I believe he would be playing at a higher level…

    If Lack and Markstrom were the starting goalies the end of the year would be very complicated. The headline would be “Will Lack Get a New Contract?” Will Markstrom be the goalie of the future?

    After next year Millers contract expires and Markstrom will have shown if he is ready to take the next step. Also, Thatcher Demko will be ready for the NHL. Lack would probably need a 4 year contract at 4 mil per… Miller is the vet, Mark the young pro and Demko the young hot shot!

    The goalie situation is not as bleak as it seems

  • Dirty30

    Good time for the Canucks to evaluate all their talent and there’s lots of incentive for the prospects and other AHL pieces to show their stuff.

    Makes me wonder about guys like Jensen — who wants to ride the bus to games for the rest of their career when the opportunity to take the next step is as close as it will ever be right now.

  • Dirty30

    Although Cannada’s save percentage has not really looked that impressive throughout his career, I am a strong believer that the timing of the goaltenders saves is much more important. When a team is struggling to score more than 2 goals per game the goalie needs to make appropriate saves(no groaners).

    In all fairness to Mr.Miller, I believe he has been nursing an ailment for sometime now. After watching him get up he seems to be pushing on his goal stick quite heavily, usually a sign of injury or completely uninspired. (IMO injury).

    Mr. Cannada has done alright in some pre-season games and hope he will fair well if called upon. Keep playing the kids and evaluate what we have for next season. Go Canucks, go Comets & & go K-wings. (& trymakin’s team).

  • Ruprecht

    I have a serious question for all you hard-core Canucks fans.

    I am fairly certain Cannata won’t see any ice time. He will sit on the bench. Can you list all the goalies who were backups for at least one Canucks game, but who are not credited with any time played in a Canucks uniform?

    We all remember Chris Levesque. But who else? I would say Rob McVicar, but he did end up playing about 3 minutes in a game against Edmonton a few years back, so that doesn’t count.

  • josevancouver

    I think having Cannata up with the Canucks is a good thing for a few reasons. First, while he probably won’t play, he’ll get to practice with the team and face better shooters and Two, Melanson will get a chance to see how he has developed skill-wise. I kept an eye on Cannata’s strong start at the beginning of the Comets’ season and was hoping that the Canucks would call up a prospect as opposed to Bachman. No offense to Bachman, but at 5’10, he just doesn’t have the size to make it in the NHL. As for Cannata, who knows? The point is, he’s younger, a draft pick and he’s playing well in Utica. Let the coaching staff see what he has and get him exposed to playing with NHL players…even if it is only in practice. It can only help him.