Canucks interested in Yale UFA goaltender Alex Lyon

The NCAA playoffs are getting underway this weekend, and there will be plenty of intriguing unrestricted college free agents out there that teams will look to add upon the conclusion of those playoffs. One of those names is Yale sophomore goaltender Alex Lyon, and it was reported earlier today by News 1130 that the Canucks are one of 15 teams interested in the his services:

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The amount of interest in Lyon is not surprising, because as mentioned above, he is one of the best goalies in the NCAA. As much as Canucks fans love Thatcher Demko (myself included), Lyon has better stats in every category except wins and shutouts.  

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Lyon is currently first in the NCAA in save percentage (0.941), with Cam Johnson (North Dakota) in second and Demko (Boston College) in third. First in GAA (1.51), which you guessed it, just ahead of Johnson and Demko again. 

Yale is only averaging 2.76 goals per game, so they are not the offensive powerhouses like Boston College and University of North Dakota is. So the margin of error for Lyon is much smaller. He has given up three goals in 3 of his 28 appearances, and 4 goals on 2 occasions. So he has only given up 2 goals or less in 82% of his appearances.

I reached out to Greg Balloch from In Goal Magazine for a scouting report on Lyon:

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Alex Lyon has become something of a workhorse for Yale University this year. The notoriously strong program has been hit hard with injuries, and have relied on Lyon more so than usual. The 23-year-old hasn’t wavered, and is posting the best numbers of his collegiate career. 
Lyon’s strengths are his hands and his ability to adapt and develop. He uses his posts well, and makes smart, confident decisions with his save selections. His hands also play an important role in his game, because he doesn’t have the natural skating ability that you would like to see from a goaltender with average size. When he is caught out of position, he is able to make up for it with above average tracking skills.
Although he has made considerable improvements each season, it’s hard to say what his ceiling is. His willingness to learn certainly helps his case, but the pro game will be his toughest challenge. As the speed of the game around him increases, he will need to make positional adjustments to account for his skating ability. There’s obvious risk involved with that, but he’s a prospect that is worth a look because of his raw skills and reputation as a hard worker.

The Yale goaltender was also named to Team US for the World Championships last year. He did not see any action as Dallas Stars goaltender Jack Campbell and Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck split the duties. But being named to the roster as an undrafted and unsigned free agent is impressive. Although he never played, the experience and practice would’ve been extremely beneficial.

For comparison’s sake, Matt O’Connor, whom the Canucks were pursuing heavily last year finished his final year with Boston University with a 2.18 GAA, and 0.927 SV%. So Lyon is leaps and bounds above that, and you can see why he is generating so much interest.

With that, the question is why are the Canucks interested when they already have Demko in the system?

First obvious point – free prospect. No asset (other than money) given up to add a prospect to their system. It’s the right way to go about it. If he doesn’t pan out, then no lose other than some money.

Second, is that although possible, there are no guarantees that Demko will sign this summer. Thus it would leave the Canucks with only Richard Bachman in Utica, and something they would need to address in the summer regardless. So, trying to add Lyon would be a way to hedge their bets and add one of the best unsigned free agent goaltenders in advance and then can focus on adding Demko after.

There is another wrinkle to this though, and News 1130 tweeted it:

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In 2011-12, Lyon and Demko were teammates in Omaha with Lyon, 18 at the time, playing 48 games and 15-year-old, Demko playing 15 games. So there is some familiarity there and it’s a safe thought process that the Canucks hope they can use that as part of the ‘offer’. Since Lyon would be signing an entry level contract, there are maximums in place with regards to the compensation, so the familiarity of knowing Thatcher is one of those things that can play a part in a players decision.

It does seem a little odd, as it has been reported  that the Canucks are planning to get Demko under contract this summer and already have Bachman under contract next season. But the Canucks are likely hoping to get both under contract and have them ‘duke’ it out for starts in Utica, with fans hoping that Bachman is the one moved out to make room for the two NCAA goalies.

We are getting ahead of ourselves here, as the Canucks are just one of fifteen teams with interest, and we don’t know their level of interest. But based on their chasing of O’Connor last year and this report, it’s clear the Canucks are at least trying to add another goaltender in the system through the UFA NCAA route. 

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  • Vanoxy

    Look about the only topic not addressed here is song titles,lol. How about Bah bah bennie and his unwanted vets! Bennie bennie and the jets.

    No matter how this is sliced or diced getting nothing for vrbata,hammy,burr.miller DISGUSTING!

    Afterall hammy could have net a 2nd rounder plus 1 0r2 prospects from dallas if the reports on am1040 are correct. Then the homesick hammmy likely signs a contract here for 1 or more yrs. Vrbata meant cap relief and no more pouting cause brilliant Willy would not play him with the twins?

    And Desjardin would have to get a new buddy to go have lunch with and we get a few referee breaks by moving burr! Also a few more goals from whoever took his spot? Unless ofcourse its Dorsett doing 2 line duty,lol And them with Miller gone,there would be no barrage of late goals under 5 minutes of the 3rd period? But now we see the same ole same old all over again

    • Laxbruh15

      a little late to the party…

      haven’t you heard the partys over. most of us have jumped ship and are cheering for the leafs

      you will find most of us here –

      http://mapleleafsnation.com/

      join us and all the other idiots that believe TO is doing better at the rebuild than us cause they been at it for the past 15 years.

      cheers and look forward to seeing you.

    • Vanoxy

      I find it laughable that fans (at least the ones with rabies) would believe anything coming from the amateurs at yTEAM 1040. they are selling TOYO Tires… or debt re financing… or Leasebusters… or Mitsubishi… or Toyotas. The way they go about having one of their staff on one side of an issue while the other is on the other side is, I believe, hack journalism 101.

      As for what Benning or Desjardins does…. well, I’d like to see how what they have done turns out. True, there are decisions that leave me scratching my head, I am no professional hockey person (I make 1/10th of a basic entry level contract and have been at my job for 20 years). That said, I think some kind of pill is in order for the ranters who want blood because someone started a job almost 2 years ago and they (Benning et al) were inheriting something like 12 no trade clause contracts. perhaps keep that in mind…. or not.

  • Laxbruh15

    “We are getting ahead of ourselves here, as the Canucks are just one of fifteen teams with interest”

    It’s almost as though this should have been a tweet instead of a blog post…

  • TrueBlue

    From a personal development standpoint, we’ve got a pretty decent track record for developing goalies.. that has to be appealing. Plus we have a pretty decent track record for shipping goalies out of town when necessary.

    But yes.. while we don’t have a logjam in net, having a 20-yr-old top goaltending prospect in the system could look like a deterrent on paper.

    Still.. there’s a “grey” year after Miller (before Demko) in which we have no backup goalie for Markstrom. If we signed him, gave him the start in Utica next year (risky for an unproven goalie to go straight to starting in Pro.. not sure mgmt would go for it) with Demko backing him up (assuming he signs), then he could move up in 2017-18 to back up Markstrom, giving Demko the starting role in Utica. Demko would be 21 that year, so no problem giving him another year of seasoning in Utica before making a call on the next move.

    Would look like:

    2016-17

    Canucks: S=Miller B=Markstrom (26)

    Comets: S=Lyons (23) B=Demko (20)

    2017-18

    Canucks: S=Markstrom (27) B=Lyons (24)

    Comets: S=Demko (21) B=?

    2018-19

    Canucks S=Markstrom (28) B=Lyons (25)

    Comets: S=Demko (22)

    2019-2020:
    Make the call on who to keep and who to trade.

    Lyon & Demko also share back-to-back birthdays.. don’t know if that’s a positive or a negative.

  • Vanoxy

    The Canucks should have no problem signing him if they use this sales pitch.

    “We will develop you in the AHL, call you up to be our backup, name you starter, then trade you to an Eastern conference team for an underwhelming return.”

    Their track record speaks for itself when it comes to supplying the East with All-star keepers.