Some call it a controversy. Others call it an embarrassment of riches. However you look at it, having two legitimate starters on one team – in this case, a Vezina veteran and a highly coveted rookie – is always good for one thing: conversation. Though the Luongo vs. Schneider argument is sure to stay hot until the day one of them leaves town, don’t think for a second that will end the controversy. There’s a new guy looking to enter the debate, and they call him “The Stork”.
Canuck fans were pleasantly surprised last September when they got their first look at future prospect Eddie Lack, an undrafted goalie from Brynas of the Swedish Elite League, whom the Canucks signed to a two year entry-level contract. At 6’4”, it was hard to miss the big Swede standing in goal for the Canucks during last year’s Young Stars Tournament, and his play made him that much harder to miss. Despite giving up 4 goals in the final game against Calgary, Lack made 45 saves for the win, leaving many Canucks fans – and Eddie himself – with a smile on their face. Lack’s arrival served notice that the club would be strong between the pipes for the foreseeable future.
The tournament also served as fair warning to his new Manitoba Moose teammate and projected starting goalie Tyler Weiman. It didn’t take long for Lack to win the starting job away from Weiman, finishing the season with a record of 28-21-4, including 5 shutouts, a 2.26 GAA, and .936 save percentage, good enough to earn him a spot on the AHL All-Rookie Team. Eddie’s numbers only got better in the playoffs, where he posted 6 wins, 2 shutouts, a 1.99 GAA and .932 save percentage while carrying the Moose to the North Division final, where they eventually lost out to the Hamilton Bulldogs. See Eddie Lack’s 2010/11 Manitoba Moose Highlights (YouTube)
Much like Luongo and Schneider, Lack’s greatest strength is his play down low. With his lanky frame, he’s able to cover the bottom of the net well and has strong lateral movement, while his height also gives him the ability to track the puck through traffic. Cody Hodgson said that while playing against Nashville in the Western Conference Semis, Preds goalie Pekka Rinne often reminded him of his former Manitoba netminder. Often described as happy-go-lucky, Lack has a highly competitive nature when he hits the ice, a quality that can only serve him well in his quest to reach the NHL.
Though most speculated otherwise, it appears that the Canucks will be sticking to their Jennings-winning tandem of Luongo and Schneider going into this season, meaning Lack will most likely land the starting role with the club’s new AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. However, should Vancouver pull the trigger on a deal to move Schneider, don’t be surprised if we see The Stork standing tall for the Canucks before the year is out.