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WWYDW: Jacob Markstrom

Jacob Markstrom has been playing like a Vezina-calibre goalie since roughly the start of the new year. There’s just no other way to put it. Meanwhile, backup Thatcher Demko has started just 5 games this season and while he appears to be developing at a steady pace, still looks be a long way off from being the Canucks undisputed #1 goaltender. Markstrom has just one year left on his contract, and looks to be in line for an extension; but when Mikko Koskinen costs three years at 4.5 million dollars AAV, you have to think he’ll be worth a pretty penny. He’s also going to turn 30 midway through next season, and there’s no guarantee his strong play will continue.

How would you handle the goalie situation next season? Would you sign Jacob Markstrom to an extension?

Last week I asked: Are you satisfied with the way the Comets have handled their youth this season? If not, what would you change?

Killer Marmot:

The Dahlen incident alone doesn’t mean much. There were hints before this that Dahlen was high maintenance, so who knows what really went on?

But when combined with Palmu returning to Finland, it doesn’t look good. Vancouver and Utica should definitely talk over the summer about how to improve player development.

Rusty Bucket:
Its hard to comment on how satisfied I am with how the Comets training staff has developed its youth when all we see is what media shows us, the rare time a player speaks his mind (Dahlen – and the loss of words from translation), and the insight that Comet Cory has provided us. Even harder when we the AHL doesnt post ice-times.
Coming from a hockey fan, not a coach, its easy for us to question why for example Arseneau was getting shifts over Gadjovich, but it seems like Cull likes to insulate his rookies with solid vets. As Cory has commented, he puts the young players in big time situations. Early in the season there were just simply too many young players for Cull to fit all in. All in all, from the information I have, I feel they are doing an adequate job. If I was in the room, I might have a different story, but we just do not know.
North Van Halen:
It sounds to me like Dahlen is used to be the best player on his team and allowed to ‘cheat the details’ Now that he’s not and being told to play a responsible 200 foot game first and worry about offence second he’s not used to it. Cull came from the Tampa system which seems to have a pretty good handle on the way to develop players on the farm, so you’d think he’d know a successful process for developing youth.
Maybe Cull has an abrasive manner that’s rubbing some kids the wrong way, maybe the Canucks are just dumb and don’t want their prospects to develop, maybe Dahlen is a entitled whiner. We really don’t know. Since this is really the first time since Edler, Bieksa, Hanson, Burrows & Kesler were in the minors we’ve had any prospects of note playing or on their way to our minor league affiliate, it’s really too early to tell what is going on.
If more prospects speak out or ask out, we’ll know there’s a problem. If things settle down and prospects start rising though the ranks then it’s business as usual, nothing to see here.

Perhaps what the Canucks need is an assistant coach who is familiar with developing players coming out of European systems? Because the main issue seems to have been with Dahlen and Palmu (although Palmu played in the OHL). It’s not as simple as saying that there’s a problem with Utica, any more than looking at the players who’ve graduated to the NHL or had a cup of coffee and saying that everything’s fine. It is the case that we’ve had a substantial number of players who seem to have developed well — Gaudette didn’t have much time in Utica but he seems to have been fine, same with Demko and Juolevi. MacEwan and Sautner also clearly improved.

It’s hard to know what exactly went wrong with Palmu and Dahlen. I do wonder sometimes about the broader games management strategy of the Canucks. I think both of them played 60-ish games in the Swedish and Finnish leagues before coming over — I don’t know if the strategy is to limit games. Until we get a better read on how they’re developing (or not) it’s not clear where the blame lies.

I remember a time when Virtanen got upset with the Canucks org because he felt hard done by. If he hadn’t been a local boy, who knows? Maybe he’d have asked for a trade too. If being tough on players is what turns Virtanen from an on-again off-again player to someone who shows up every night ready to work, then isn’t scaring a few players away worth that price? Especially if said players aren’t ready and willing to dig deep and give the effort coaches expect.
Maybe Dahlen will figure it out at his next stop. Maybe it’ll take a few trades before he realizes how much effort coaches expect from players in the pros. I hope he makes it, but there’s still a pretty good chance he won’t, and coddling him because he has “potential” doesn’t do any favours to anyone.
Hockey Bunker:
The Utica team is currently too old. It is a symptom of years of nearly zero effective drafting, predating JB and during his first two years during the win for the Sedins misguided attempt. Utica is primarily populated by other teams castoffs. Over next three years it should trend younger and real development will begin. Utica has two roles, develop for the future and have NHL ready players now to step in when there are injuries.
Those NHL ready players in the future will increasingly be Canucks picks.
Defenceman Factory:

There is one change that should definitely be made in Utica. The organization needs to do a better job evaluating if young players are ready to play there. If not leave them in Europe or Junior or the ECHL. The roster had too many wingers all season. If they are close (Dahlen) make sure he is pushed and can be given the ice time to develop. I really wonder if Dahlen isn’t destined to be a Ried Boucher or Linden Vey who develops into a good AHL scorer but can’t turn the corner.

I am not surprised about how the year has gone for Gadjovich or Lind. Gads skating just is not good. I watched Lind all through his junior. He was along way from pro ready at the end of his draft +1 year. He weighed a skinny 170 and had no clue how to use a physical check to gain puck possession. He way too often went out of his way to avoid any contact. He was always chippy, slashing and punching after the whistle, running his mouth. His skating was above average for the dub which equates to just adequate in the pros. Don’t forget Linden Vey and Emerson Etem had very similar PPG rates in junior. Lind was always a decent 200 ft player so if he puts in the work he’ll make it. If not he won’t.

  • Puck Viking

    Sign him to a 3 to 5 year deal for Koskinen like money.

    |t gives you stability moving forward and incase demko doesnt work out. In 2 years you expose or trade one prior to the expansion draft.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Why? Koskinen was flagrantly overpaid by an outgoing GM on the hot seat desperate to do anything to save his job. Based on his body of work and comparables, Koskinen should have been signed in the $2M AAV region (see my comparisons to PIT Casey DeSmith below)

    • Mark Easson at myNHLtraderumours.com suggested Freddie Andersen ($5M x 5) and Martin Jones ($5.75M x 6) as comparables. I don’t think he is making unreasonable comparisons and it’s way more in terms of salary and term than what most people here would like to see.

  • You need to give significant games to both Markstrom and Demko next season to see who is the better goaltender. Markstrom and Demko are coming from totally opposite directions: Can Markstrom prove that he is a legitimate starting goaltender by overcoming his previous poor play and continuing to provide quality starts? Conversely, can Demko prove that he can become a legitimate starting goaltender by translating his exceptional play in the NCAA and AHL to the NHL with limited starts as a back-up? In my mind, it’s disappointing that Markstrom’s pending UFA status and the expansion draft only leave us with half a season next year to see.

    In my mind, Benning needs to figure this out before next year’s trade deadline. The main reason is that Markstrom is going to be a UFA and in a prime position to command a contract with salary and term. If he is a legit starter, then he deserves it. However, the length of that kind of UFA contract (4-6 years) is going to outlast Demko’s RFA status (4 years) and eat up starts for Demko. I don’t see a 2-3 year deal for Markstrom as realistic. The risk is that Demko is less likely to extend as Markstrom’s replacement and will walk as a UFA if he spent his prime age as a back-up. As Cageyvet pointed out, the expansion draft will force us to protect one or the other so there is a good chance we will lose one.

    Assuming that Markstrom and Demko both prove to be legitimate starters, it’s my opinion that we should run with Demko. Although he hasn’t proven himself to be a starter *yet*, he has proven that he can adapt and excel at the NCAA and AHL level. His age and RFA status work in his favour. He has been progressing according to the plan. Demko passes the eye test (i.e. good technique) and has the stats to back it up. His rocky starts are not atypical for a rookie – only unrealistic armchair GM’s and trolls would expect every prospect to be an impact player in their rookie season. His progress has been no different from Cory Schneider, who was one of the elite goaltenders in the league.

    There are plenty of teams could use a starting goaltender: Calgary, Columbus, Detroit, Ottawa, Arizona, NYR, Buffalo, and St. Louis are all teams that could use a better goaltender now or shortly after Demko’s UFA contract kicks in. I would trade Markstrom at next year’s trade deadline for the best deal possible (possibly earlier if a good deal appeared) rather than extending him and risk losing him to expansion in June 2021. I would take the highest value of picks and prospects plus a back-up goaltender for Demko if one wasn’t already under contract.

      • tyhee

        I wondered about this so went to a Barracuda forum and saw a post March 16 that he didn’t play after the first period March 16, a post March 17 saying he was “out injured today” and then he hasn’t been mentioned since then.

        • MattyT

          Exactly – more bitter windowlickers throwing an ex player under the bus with ‘fake news’ to make themselves feel better. #fakenews #bitter #losers

          “Well, I think their chemistry played a part in drafting Pettersson.” Benning admitted. “They have good chemistry together; they both had really good seasons; they can read off each other. Pettersson could find where Dahlen was. Dahlen is good in the corners and in front of the net; Pettersson had the vision to know where he was at and to find him and set him up for scoring chances.” – Benning via Sportsnet

          Yep – Dim Jim dropped the ball again…Suck it up, bitters.

      • Braindead Benning

        Karlsson with be a good player in the ECHL, perhaps with Lind and Gad… While Comtois (camel toes) @ 50th will most likely make the Ducks next year

  • wojohowitz

    Once again management has put themselves in a questionable situation. Is Demko any good? How good? Is he a number one goalie? Can he play five games in a row without hurting himself? Maybe we will have the answers after Markstrom has left town.

    • FairPM

      How exactly does mgmt put themselves in a questionable situation? By having one guy who has finally developed, and another that is developing? What would you proffer to have happen?

      • wojohowitz

        They have had an entire season to answer these questions and there is still time to answer one of them; Can Demko play five games in a row without hurting himself? They have a #1 goalie. Do they have two #1 goalies or a #1 and a #1a or a 1 and a 2? What are they going to do – figure it out in the off-season?

    • Braindead Benning

      They always put themselves in a difficult situation because they are always in a “knee jerk” Monday morning quarterback decision making mode.
      Demko is 23 and shows the same level of development as Schieds. He clearly not ready (at this point) so they really have no choice but to sign Markstrom to at least 5 years… I know it’s taken a few years but him and Bo horvat have been the teams MVP thus far

  • Kootenaydude

    Age isn’t a problem if the Canucks don’t sign him long term. Let Demko and Marky fight for the number one goalie spot. Marky has been nothing short of inconsistent over his career. Demko hasn’t been great. Although he hasn’t played much. Trade the lesser of the two, but only if it’s a decent return.

    • DeL

      Markstrom has made great strides since being paired with Clarke the same could be in the future for Demko. Try to sign Markstrom for 3-4 and make a decision at the expansion draft who you are going to expose. the Canucks also have Dipietro in the pipeline and the team needs to monitor his progress closely as it also plays into who to keep

  • ClassOF2011

    Simple – keep Marky, then sign a legit proven elite goalie like Bobrovsky and watch them battle it out for the starters job, share the workload and cover for inevitable injuries… both goalies have excelled under Ian Clarke.

    Demko isn’t ready – get him back to Utica where he belongs instead of rushing the kid to try and save face like Benning is doing.

    Oh yeah, do this with a new head coach and GM in situ. Tired of the lies and losing. Five years of failure is enough.

      • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

        I’m hoping Travis Green doesn’t get to determine which goalies start which games next year based on his “handling” of Demko so far….otherwise, don’t expect much in terms of development from the kid.

        • MattyT

          True but the dim seem to (conveniently) forget that the NHL is NOT a development league. It’s about delivering right away and winning NHL games, especially for goalies… Jordan Binnington has proven he is ready, Demko has not and it sure isn’t Ian Clarke’s job to develop a prospect in Vancouver – that’s what Utica is for.

          Ridiculous commentary from the same rabid fools who are the first to whine when the losses start adding up.

          • wjohn1925

            Again…so boring. Irritating and boring. My guess is you have acquaintances for like 5 minutes. They just stare at you as you ‘pontificate’ and then find any reason to never see you again. That’s why you have to gravitate to sites like this. We are unable to ‘never see you again’, unless we ourselves leave…perhaps it’s time.

          • MattyT

            Dud suffering from acute memory loss again…or just plain IGNORANCE…

            ”the least I could do is occasionally remind Bud that CA’s readership is constantly growing and if all he is going to do is be rude to other readers he doesn’t need to come back especially because this isn’t Tim Hortons and I don’t get brownie points for smiling and being polite while someone makes the work area a nuisance to be in for staff + customers. ” – Jackson McDonald (CA Associate Editor)

            Now, kindly do as you were told by Jackson himself Dud… LEAVE and you needn’t come back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Braindead Benning

      I agree to keep Markstrom, but I don’t think going after Brobovsky is the right fit man. He may end up as another ilya bryzgalov… Seems a bit flaky

  • tyhee

    I’m a Markstrom fan but it’s going to be hard to tell that from this post, because I’m really wary of the inconsistency in many goalies from year to year, of long term contracts and especially taking the risk of giving long term deals to players coming out of the usual age of prime NHL performance.

    1. Even though the question posed wasn’t about this season, I wouldn’t play him much the rest of this season. Without looking at the stats he has to be close to the league lead in scoring chances faced and imo he’s tired and his play is showing it. He’s tired, Demko isn’t.

    2. I think the Canucks should, immediately on the season ending, start trying to negotiate an extension. Keeping in mind he’s at the age to look for a retirement contract it may be tough to come to terms. The Canucks have to keep in mind he’ll turn 30 next season, goalies performances have a tendency to swing up and down from year to year this is the first season he’s looked like a solid NHL starter, so they have to be wary of overpaying in price or term.

    The ideal length of a contract for the Canucks is probably three years. He’ll probably want longer. Puck Viking’s comment suggesting Koskinen money ($4.5 mm per) is probably in the right range.

    3. No consideration should be given to a no move clause so as to have flexibility as to which goalie to protect in the expansion draft. If Markstrom will take a discount for a limited no trade clause that can be on the table.

    4. If it looks like it will be difficult to sign him, then rather than risk losing him for nothing I’d suggested starting to look for a trade right away. It will change the easy plan they have for goalies next season (NHL-Markstrom, Demko, AHL-Bachman, DiPietro) whenever the deal is done and if the Canucks need to get a replacement for next season it would be nice to know it and be able to look at free agents this summer rather than be scrambling to trade for a goaltender some time between the start of the season and the trade deadline.

    Of course, in the sad but possible event they’re looking to replace Markstrom, I’d be inclined to go short term and not look at elite guys. Some may feel more optimistic but imo the Canucks aren’t in the position (near contending for the Cup) which makes going into the bidding wars for elite free agents, which almost always means overpaying in money and in term, worthy of consideration.

  • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

    “but when Mikko Koskinen costs three years at 4.5 million dollars AAV, you have to think he’ll be worth a pretty penny”

    Exactly 11 days before the Oilers signed Koskinen, the Pens inked Casey DeSmith, who is 3yrs younger, had more career games played (42 to 31), a better SV% (0.917 to 0.911), a better GAA (2.67 to 2.78), to a 3yr deal with an AAV of $1.25M (compared to Koskinen’s 3yrs at AAV of $4.5M).

    I understand you’re using Koskinen as your example in order to properly inflate your expected number at which Benning will ultimately resign Markstrom, but maybe you should have made it a bit more clear of how being a crappy team (and/or a Canadian market) has impacted contracts up here and on garbage teams compared to teams like the Penguins. Just for proper perspective.

  • Steampuck

    I can live with four years (not more) @ the high end of his range (< $4.5). I've seen enough from Markstrom this season to see real improvement that works against the trend for players of his age. There have been far fewer of those short-side, over the shoulder goals that got really tired in years past. He's clearly tweaked his game and is benefitting from regular play. He may be closing hard on 30, but there's less wear on his treads than on many players his age since he's been something of a late-bloomer.

    The best-case (and most realistic) scenario is that Demko gets a few more starts next year so the team can gauge where he's at. If he is the goalie of the future, you expose Markstrom, and hope Seattle doesn't see him as the franchise backstop (hello, M.-A. Fleury). And, maybe, the higher salary is enough to deter a budget-conscious expansion team. If you get to keep both, then you go into the 2020-2021 season with a 1A/1B fight that's a lot more interesting than Markstrom/Nilsson ever was.

    All that said, the Canucks need to tread carefully and avoid the aging goalie trap they've fallen into in the past with Miller and Luongo: over-playing a 30+ guy to the point where performances dip and/or injuries spring up. At some point, I'll have to see if the data backs this up, but I don't think contending teams should have their goalies playing more than ~55-60 games a season if you want to ride them in the playoffs. This becomes even more of an issue as they age.

    • Steampuck

      Canucks lost. Things got interesting as they closed to 5-4. If you’re on Team Tank, the Ducks jumped them in the standings (with a game in hand, though) and the Canucks’ odds of the first pick just went up a little. If you’re not on Team Tank (and at this point: who hurt you?), they looked a better team than the one that faltered over the weekend.

  • Fred-65

    From what I’ve seen of Demko he still has 2 years of development ahead of him. It’s not like he’s a Carter Hart from instance. His last game was simply very poor, soft goals and rebound control. If this is the case who is best placed to be the #1 and I’d tend to think it would be nuts not to say that Markstrom is that guy. He still have 1 year left at avery good salary so a further 2-3 year beyond would be OK with me. The question is what does Markstrom want, I tend to think there’s a market for his services. If you were his agent would you want a three year contract as a 29 year old ?. If I’m Markstrom I’d want aa 5 year at $5 to 6 range. If I’m JB do I have faith that Demko will be better than Markstrom. Demko is a RFA this summer how long a term will he want. IMHO I sign the known quantity ( JM ) and keep my fingers crossed with Demko will sign for 2 years bridge deal

    • MattyT

      Good post Fred – one of the few here who ‘gets it’ *and* actually goes to the games. Kudos.

      The armchair GM’s (just like Benning) are still clinging onto Demko being the next Martin Brodeur. He isn’t and as you say is a longgggggg way off being a legit NHL goalie.

      You’d think ‘fans’ would realise what it takes from us getting Luongo after years of poor goaltending… but no, they want Demko and DiPietro in net and Markstrom traded, because his value is high!? wtf… you just could not make it up. ;-p

      • Fred-65

        I am amazed each day when reading forums, including this one, how many cheer leaders there are. They talk about their dreams rather than reality. Would you hire the dreamers as scouts. Demko hopefully becomes a good goalie but currently he’s not there yet, so we’re speculating. Watch what he does and judge accordingly. Driving home after the game I was listening to the post game comments and Auld pretty well made the same assessment of Demko, a nice prospect but don’t get ahead of yourself. I don’t see greatness, I see a prospect. In the mean time do you go with your best player at that position, of course you do.

        • Braindead Benning


          Markstrom has been in the system for 5 years and put on waivers. Since then, he has his up’s and downs. However, this year he has proven that even at the age of 29 (Hutton in Buffalo as example), have proven they can adjust.
          I think the Canucks would be foolish to not take the opportunity to sign him now.
          JB continuly seems to find ways of throwing $ at bottom 9 level players for like 12 goals…
          Maybe he should give $ at the person who prevents goals.

          • Fred-65

            I’m not sure if this is the case but two ythings have happened and it may be coincidental or it maybe one is a result of the other. Ian Clark returned to Vcr as goalie coach. Since then JM has upped his game and makes difficult saves routinely

  • Kanuckhotep

    Going forward from now through next season Benning has a tandem where Marky can be #1 but Demko has to be thrown in a lot to see if his NCAA and AHL performances can translate to the NHL. The time is now to see if Thatcher can cut it or not. Like someone said on here the Show is not about development but immediacy. At this point Demko is neither a bum nor do I think he’s ready but there is potential there for sure. Handle him properly or they may ruin him. And for now Marky is the man.

  • Rodeobill

    I see Markstrom not only “getting it” this season in the net, but as a leader on the team. Everything’s a gamble, but I’d put my money on him, he has been a real difference maker and has stolen games. Aside from the last few (as another poster said, he is really over worked), he has found consistency, and that gives me confidence. If I were JB, I have a chat with Ian Clarke to see what he thinks, and sign him 3 to 5 around 4mill, as Puck Viking said. If there is any position where you want to shore up, its the crease, why not give him as much as Beagle or Rousell? He has stolen more games than both of them combined.

  • Dan-gles

    I was going to post that I think demkos professional numbers look a little weak, and that he may be getting a little more praise than he should. But I looked up some goalies numbers looking for a comparable. Now I’m not saying he is on the same path but his numbers look very similar to Johnathan Quicks. Who also came out of the NCAA. Plus he is still only 23! That’s pretty young for a keeper.

  • Killer Marmot

    Markstrom is not elite (a few months solid play is not enough to break that barrier), but he’s a sound starting goalie and those don’t grow on trees. Offer him an extension and, combined with re-signing Demko this summer, the Canucks goalie situation will look solid for the next few years. That’s nothing to sneeze at, as witnessed by those clubs that seem to constantly struggle finding quality backstops.

    Should Markstrom demand an exorbitant or overly long extension then delay re-signing until next year.

    • Braindead Benning

      No he is not “elite” but he is one of the few bright spots from another dismal season. So IMO I don’t think he is going to ask for a Price or Luongo deal. But hey, at least there is some great goaltending from Marky… It’s a wonder why after 5 years and he is now the #1…

  • Beer Can Boyd

    The fact that this is even a discussion is ridiculous. The Canucks have 1 NHL calibre goalie. Extend him now, or expect another 3 years of misery waiting for Demko to hopefully develop.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Sign Markstrom for 4 more years as soon as possible. He has always been a pretty good goalie but did not perform consistently. He has hardly faltered this season and is more structurally sound than ever. If Markstrom has a very strong year next year and with improvements to the team in front of him he will be considerably more expensive next off season.

    Give Demko a 2 year bridge deal. This provides a reasonable 1,2 combo for the next two years at a cost of under 7 mil. DePietro and Bachmann can take the net in Utica.

    This gives the Canucks two full seasons to decide who to protect at the expansion draft and to gauge DePietro’s development. If Demko establishes himself quickly Markstrom becomes tradable. Unlikely this happens in 19/20 but a possibility for 20/21. If Demko doesn’t develop as expected trade him, expose him or send him down.

    I’d like to see Demko get some more games here this year but regardless the time with coach Clarke is valuable. The Canucks are about where they should be in regards to goaltending.

    Draft a goalie every year even if most years it’s a flyer in the late rounds. Every two or three years get one of the top 5 or 8 goalies in the draft class.