Vancouver Canucks mailbag: Virtanen, Markstrom, more

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 21: Christopher Tanev
VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 21: Christopher Tanev /

In this week’s edition of our Vancouver Canucks mailbag, we take a look at Jake Virtanen’s situation, the goaltending, Jarome Iginla and more!

It’s another edition of our Vancouver Canucks mailbag, where you ask and we answer.  We’d like to thank our loyal fans and followers who loaded up (we mean that in a good way, of course), some very intriguing inquiries.

Last week, we answered your questions about Bo Horvat, the possibility of signing Jaromir Jagr, the Canucks 2018 draft needs and plenty more.

This week, we’ve got questions regarding where Jake Virtanen will play this season, if Jarome Iginla is worth a shot and how the goaltending duo of Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson will work.

So without further ado, let’s get to your questions.

The Virtanen watch

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Excellent questions, you two. Firstly, the plan is likely for him to try out for the team in training camp, and new head coach Travis Green will work with Virtanen to see if he’s ready.

Virtanen isn’t guaranteed a spot right now, but there’s no belief he’s automatically going to start out in Utica, either.

Virtanen was drafted three years ago, and has still yet to play a full season in the NHL. Patience is starting to wear thin, and the more they keep him in the minors, the less likely he is to succeed as a Canuck. That’s why he needs to just make the team as soon as possible, provided he’s indeed ready to be a full-time pro in the NHL.

My guess is he does just enough in training camp to make the team, where he’ll start out as a bottom-six player.

Markstrom vs. Nilsson

Josh also had this question regarding the goaltending situation, that many fans are surely wondering about as well:

This is a tough one. Back in May, general manager Jim Benning announced that Markstrom would be the starter for 2017-18. But after the Canucks signed Nilsson, Benning said it was up to both goalies to see who the No. 1 would be.

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But at the end of the day, I believe Markstrom is going to be the starter. Going 50-50 with a pair of career backups just isn’t logical. Markstrom has seen enough as a second stringer and the goal has always been to groom him into a starter.

So expect Markstrom to eventually earn the No. 1 role, and for Nilsson to get about 20 games as his backup.

Iginla a Canuck?

Jarome Iginla was among the top enemies in Vancouver for a long time, as captain of the Calgary Flames. But the future Hall of Famer and two-time Olympic gold medalist remain unsigned. Shall the Canucks pursue him?

Guys like Iginla and Shane Doan are learning the hard way: No matter what you’ve done in your NHL career, it comes down to “What have you done for me lately?” NHL teams just aren’t bent on signing past-their-prime players when they have little to offer on the ice.

Iginla’s coming off his worst NHL season ever, scoring just 14 goals and 27 points. The Canucks are in rebuilding mode, meaning they truly have no interest in bringing on a 40-year-old to their roster.

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While I do agree that he’d be a great leader and huge character guy in the locker room, the Canucks just have no fit for Iginla. Their goal is to keep getting younger, faster and better. Iginla doesn’t do much to address that.