The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly one of 15 NHL clubs eager to sign NCAA goaltender Alex Lyon of the Yale Bulldogs.
For the Vancouver Canucks, Boston College’s Thatcher Demko seems to be the goaltender of the future. However, according to NEWS 1130 Sports, the Canucks are also interested in signing Yale Bulldogs goalie Alex Lyon — just like 14 other NHL clubs.
Lyon, 23, is a junior at Yale University. His .941 save percentage and 1.51 goals-against average are NCAA-best — just slightly better than Thatcher Demko.
Demko and Lyon know each other from the 2011-12 season, as Demko backed up Lyon for the USHL Omaha Lancers. Following that season, Demko lost Omaha to play in Boston while Lyon stayed in Omaha for another year. Lyon went undrafted but was invited to the Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect camp in 2014. It took another year for him to get NHL attention, but he finally seems ready to make the jump to the pros.
Throughout his career, Lyon won several awards on every level. Last season, he made the All-Ivy League First Team as well as the All-ECAC Hockey First Team. Furthermore, he was a 2015 Mike Richter Award finalist and is nominated again this year. The Mike Richter Award honours the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men’s hockey.
It is still unclear whether Demko will ink his NHL entry-level deal with the Canucks this summer or return to college for his senior year.
Demko wants to win a championship with BC. If he succeeds this season, he will probably be willing to sign an NHL deal. If not, he will likely want to try again next season before making the jump to the pros.
Lyon would be the perfect player to come in if Demko takes his time. If the Canucks can find a way to get rid of Ryan Miller and his $6 million cap hit, their goalie tandem for next year could be Lyon and Jacob Markstrom while gaining important salary cap space for free agency.
Even if Miller stays — which might be the better scenario as long as Lyon has not proven to be effective at the NHL level — Lyon could get used to the pro game in the American Hockey League and join the Canucks later during the season.
Having both Lyon and Demko would be amazing for the Canucks. Well, kind of. We all know what having two elite goaltenders can look like in Vancouver.
Still, there are worse scenarios than having two elite goaltenders. Especially when you have no idea of either one will turn out to be elite. Signing both Lyon and Demko by the summer of 2017 would be huge for both the Utica Comets and the Vancouver Canucks.
But, before we get too excited, we need to remember that half the league — maybe even more — are reported to be interested. As of today, a club like the Edmonton Oilers is probably more attractive for a young goaltender with elite potential than the Canucks.
In Edmonton, for example, Lyon could potentially earn the starting job within the next year, on a team that should be back in the playoff race with a healthy Connor McDavid. In Vancouver, he would have to pass Miller, Markstrom and Demko on a team that is unlikely to be successful anytime soon.
At least Vancouver is a beautiful city (last pro argument when we have nothing else to offer).