Bob McKenzie had a few interesting Canucks-related tidbits on TSN’s Insider Trading earlier this week, touching on Jakob Markstrom’s contract and the team’s potential interest in Wayne Simmonds. We also got an update on Micheal Ferland’s injury that could have an effect on the Canucks’ deadline strategy.
A major key to Vancouver’s success this season has been the play of Jakob Markstrom, who’s having arguably the best season of his career. Through 41 starts, Markstrom owns a .918 save percentage, which is a career-best for him. Obviously, Markstrom playing well is important for the Canucks if they want to go on a playoff run this spring, but it’ll also have long-term ramifications as he’s due for a new contract on July 1.
According to McKenzie in TSN’s Insider Trading, the Canucks and Markstrom are nowhere near a new contract as a handful of factors are making a new deal difficult to determine…
These negotiations have not yielded a deal or anything that looks like it is imminent as far as the deal front goes.
You’ve got lots of issues here. You’ve got the term. At 30-years-old, Markstrom would like five years, but maybe he’d take four? I think Canucks would like to do three (years). But they maybe give him four (years).
They’ve loaded up on external free agents; Ferland and (Antoine) Roussel and (Jay) Beagle and it was four-year contracts for them. Why wouldn’t they give four years for the guy who might be their MVP, at least a four-year deal?
Then you get into the AAV. What’s it going to be? Is it going to be close to $6 million, less than $6 million? And then there is the expansion draft. You’ve got no-move clauses, no-trade clauses. What’s the future if he does sign? Does it have those things in place? So there’s a lot of moving parts there.
The difficulty for Vancouver is how much term they want to hand out to a goaltender on the wrong side of 30. While Markstrom has proved this season to be an integral part of the team’s success, they also have a good young goaltender in Thatcher Demko and an interesting prospect in the AHL in Michael DiPietro. Locking up Markstrom to a five- or six-year deal could be dangerous.
Another big thing here is the expansion draft. If Markstrom signs a long-term deal with the Canucks, is he ultimately just setting himself up to become Seattle’s goaltender? And if he does manage to get a no-movement clause, what does that mean for the future of Demko, who would then be exposed to Seattle instead.
One thing going for Vancouver in regards to Markstrom’s value on the open market is the fact there are a handful of other good goalies hitting free agency this summer. It seems inevitable the Capitals will move on from Braden Holtby this summer as Ilya Samsonov appears ready to take over the net. Beyond him, there’s also the Blackhawks’ Robin Lehner, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, the Bruins’ Jaroslav Halak, and the Stars’ Anton Khudobin hitting the open market along with Markstrom.
Couple all of those quality options with the skepticism manifested in big goaltender contracts from the flop that has been Sergei Bobrovsky’s mega-deal in Florida last summer and Markstrom’s market might actually be colder than you might expect.
Another thing to watch ahead of the deadline will be Micheal Ferland. After missing time due to a concussion, Ferland was set to play a conditioning game with the Utica Comets of the AHL, but he left the game early due to feeling concussion like symptoms.
Utica Update: Micheal Ferland left tonight’s game due to concussion like symptoms. He will not return tonight as a precaution.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 15, 2020
This is really, really awful news for Ferland who has already dealt with a handful of concussions in his career. At this stage, it’s critical for the Canucks to not rush Ferland back from this injury in order to avoid any long-term damage that could affect his life. Shutting Ferland down for the season might be the right thing to do here.
In the same Insider Trading segment, McKenzie mentioned how the Canucks would monitor how Ferland did in his conditioning stint and address the trade deadline accordingly. Given the fact it seems unlikely Ferland will be able to return to the Canucks, Benning could look externally to find another option to fill his role on the team.
I believe that general manager Jim Benning wants to see how Ferland progresses and if he’s back in the lineup and able to play his usual robust style. But we do know that Pierre LeBrun on Insider Trading in a recent edition talked about the interest the Vancouver Canucks may have in Wayne Simmonds, a rental, a physical forward who could be available from those New Jersey Devils. So, we’ll keep an eye on those situations and how Ferland goes, whether Vancouver feels the need to look for more help in that area.
The player who keeps getting mentioned as an option for the Canucks is Wayne Simmonds. Brett Lee wrote recently for Canucks Army about this exact situation, pointing out that the Canucks’ interest in Simmonds is contingent on Ferland’s health, so Ferland’s setback means we’ll likely be hearing Simmonds’ name more and more over the next couple of weeks.
While Simmonds does offer a physical element and a handful of veteran experience, he’s far from the power-forward he used to be. Simmonds has just seven goals this season through 57 games. The Nashville Predators acquired him last season at the deadline as a rental for their playoff run and he produced just one goal in 17 games for them. There’s merit to adding his leadership and experience into the dressing room, but at what cost?