Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom is having his best season yet in a contract year, and the price tag is growing at a rapid pace.
The Vancouver Canucks certainly wouldn’t sit atop the Pacific Division right now if not for the world-class play of 30-year-old netminder Jacob Markstrom.
Coming off the best season of his career, Markstrom has been even better here in 2019-20. He’s now 21-16-3 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.81 goals against average. Entering play on Tuesday, Vancouver has a three-point cushion over the Edmonton Oilers (who have two games in hand), Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames.
In most circumstances, signing Markstrom to an extension would be an easy choice for general manager Jim Benning. But the Seattle expansion draft is only a year away, and if Benning commits to Markstrom, he’ll either have to expose Thatcher Demko or pay a fairly hefty price to ensure the 32nd NHL franchise doesn’t take the 24-year-old.
And with Markstrom being 30 years of age, you know he’s going to want a long-term deal. The front office better be prepared for big-time contract demands. Markstrom simply deserves to be paid like a top-10 netminder.
During Hockey Night in Canada on Feb. 1, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said “word was going around” that Vancouver gave Markstrom “a two-year offer.” Johnston added that it hadn’t been “confirmed” by anybody.”
A one or two-year pact would be ideal for the Canucks, but it’s easy to think that Markstrom will want something closer to five or six years. Goalies these days rarely age well into their 30s, and this is likely Markstrom’s last chance to receive a lucrative deal.
Markstrom had another sensational performance on Tuesday, making a handful of Superman-like saves in Monday’s 6-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. The veteran netminder is only getting better and better as the season progresses.
As good as Markstrom was last season, one could have easily envisioned a scenario where he would leave by the 2020 offseason, with Demko taking over the reigns. The latter has been hyped as the goalie of the future, after all. That could still end up being the case, but Markstrom’s Vezina-like play will give Benning and company plenty to think about.
If free agency started today, Markstrom could easily land a deal worth $5-6 million annually. But if he continues to steal games for the Canucks, and if he guides them to the postseason, that rapidly increasing price tag will grow even more.