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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Roundtable: Goaltending

There’s no denying that Jacob Markstrom has been a driving force behind the Canucks’ success as of late. For the first time in his career, he’s putting up above-average performances on a consistent basis, and it’s catapulted the team into the playoff picture. Unfortunately, it also creates a tricky situation for the Canucks to navigate. His contract is set to expire at the end of the year, and with the expansion draft looming, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the Canucks will be able to retain both goalies long-term. How would you handle the goalie situation? Should they look to trade a netminder, or just roll with both netminders until the expansion draft and let the chips fall where they may?

Stephan Roget

I’m a big fan of the “re-sign Markstrom, roll with both goaltenders for now, and decide on one of them at the Expansion Draft – in fact, I’ve got an article about that dropping in the near future (or recent past, depending on when this one goes up.)
In short, there’s just no way the team can justify trading Jacob Markstrom at this point. Even if it makes the most sense from a pure asset-management perspective, it would send the wrong message to the fanbase – and, more importantly, the players. We all want Elias Pettersson to feel like he’s part of a franchise dedicated to winning, not pining for a ticket out of town like Connor McDavid.
At the same time, it’s too early to tell exactly what the Canucks have in Thatcher Demko. Trading him now would mean giving up on a whole lot of potential – and putting all their eggs in a 30+-year-old basket.
Plus, if the Canucks hang on to both of them until 2021, they’ll be presented with a bunch of options to choose from at the Expansion Draft – but to get details on those, you’ll have to read my other article.

Ryan Hank

I wholly agree with you on this. The Canucks hope to make the playoffs this season and if they do it will be in large part to the goaltending as a whole. Demko has held his weight this year and all signs point to Markstrom being THE guy. The problem is, when they’re going for the Cup in the next few years, is Markstrom the guy that is going to backstop them or will it be the tandem of Demko/DiPietro?Jacob will most likely get the Benning Special which will no doubt create a problem for the team, regardless of the value, because it forces so many other decisions and if they end up trading Demko and/or DiPietro they better get a whole lot for them because it would definitely suck to be the training ground for one of the next star netminders that never amounts to anything in VAN.I believe the correct answer is to eventually allow Markstrom to seek a trade after year two but they’ll need to negotiate the deal as such. That being said, they need him in the here and now and a rational decision can’t be made yet.I do not envy the decision they’ll have to make.

Michael Wagar

As long as they’re in playoff contention, I don’t think trading either goalie before the trade deadline is an option the team will give much consideration to and I don’t blame them considering how starved this market and roster is. It would simply send a tough message to all.The question then becomes, do you re-sign Markstrom or let him walk? This is tough to answer without knowing how well Markstrom will play down the stretch and exactly what his contract demands would be, but I’ll give it a shot. Let’s assume Markstrom, Demko and even Dipietro continue their level of play throughout the season and that Markstrom demands roughly a 5-year extension and a NMC to protect himself from the expansion draft. If Markstrom’s camp were to not budge on those conditions, I would let him walk.That level of commitment to Markstrom gives the team less long-term cap flexibility and blocks the development of one of their young, promising goaltenders. This can be avoided by signing a capable UFA like Griess, Halak, Khudobin, or Talbot. Some may scoff at those names, but they all currently hold a SV% higher than Markstrom’s and would come on a much more team-friendly deal. They could tandem well with Demko for 1-2 years as the young Canuck goalies come into their own. 

Faber

The decision for the goaltending situation can’t be made right now. Thatcher Demko is closer in age to this team’s core while Jacob Markstrom is an all star that seems to be hitting his peak right now. The Canucks seem to know what they have in Markstrom. Many Canucks fans were hoping to see Demko get 25-30 games this season. It looks like we won’t get to see Demko challenge for the starters role this season but he may make a push next year in the final year of his contract. That’s where the Markstrom contract is so important. The Demko camp is vocal, they were the ones that got Anders Nilsson out of town so that Demko could get to the NHL. If Markstrom is given a 3-5 year contract it will definitely limit the chances for Demko to be a starter in Vancouver during the prime years of his career. The Demko camp would probably not be ecstatic about that as they likely believe he has the potential to be an NHL starter in the next couple years. The situation almost needs three different conversations. The Markstrom contract, the expansion draft and the starter for this teams projected cup contention years. Markstrom looks like he will be the teams starter for the cup contention if this team wants to compete in the next three seasons but after that Demko may be a better option. Nobody knows what is to come but if Markstrom continues his high level of play for the remainder of the season, he is more than deserving of a contract. This is a domino situation, once the first one falls we will know the direction of this team. For now, we all have to wait for the first domino to fall.

Chaad Gramlich

I’m also a fan of signing Markstrom and then dealing one of Demko/Markstrom ahead of the expansion draft. We need more time to truly get a better idea of what we have in Demko. I would however be very careful with Markstorm’s term. Pay a bit more in order to keep the term to 3-4 years (though I fear that Benning will stick to his trend of doling out term). And Jim, no full movement clauses ok man!? The goaltending position is as volatile as its ever been (look at the best performing goalies this year – Jarry and Kuemper being elite, Francouz stealing the Col net, Talbot now potentially taking the Cgy net back) and term = danger. Look at Bob’s contract, that thing looked dicey from the get-go and currently looks absolutely menacing. Ultimately this is a pretty damn cool problem to have, especially when considering the developmental curve of DiPietro too

Brett Lee

One of the lessons playing hockey has taught me is if you have time, use it. Yes, I’m that guy on the ice hollering “you’ve got time,” to my defence partner because I’m a firm believer in using every advantage at your disposal to make the best possible play rather than force the puck up ice. This same philosophy can be extended to Vancouver’s goalie situation. I’d re-sign Markstrom although I am weary of paying top dollars for an extremely volatile position. I can live with the rumoured 5 year $5.5 million ask with the caveat that Markstrom doesn’t get an NMC. Personally, I don’t think he’s earned a full NMC as only 6 goalies in the league currently have some form of an NMC. Those goalies are Carey Price, Sergei Bobrovsky, Henrik Lundqvust, Corey Crawford, Pekka Rinne, and Ben Bishop. Markstrom’s body of work pales in comparison to those aforementioned. An NMC would be a sticking point in my negotiations as he would have to be protected assuming Seattle’s draft follows the same rules as Vegas’. The Canucks then have another 1.5 seasons to decide which goaltender to keep. Don’t make a side deal with Seattle to protect both. Expose one or the other in 2021 but don’t feel the need to make a rushed decision. From an asset management point of view, I understand the concern but every team is going to give up a player. Consider this part of the process.