The Vancouver Canucks have a lot to sort through this offseason. Their top priority is to figure out the goaltending situation.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has plenty to sort through this offseason.
But Benning’s main task is to figure out the long-term goalie situation in Vancouver. Top goalie Jacob Markstom is a pending UFA, and he’s likely going to cost very close to $5 million annually on a new deal.
There are a handful of factors that make the Markstrom situation difficult. Next year’s expansion draft doesn’t give Benning the option to keep his current goaltending tandem intact, unless he wants to give up valuable assets in exchange for Seattle staying away from Thatcher Demko.
Markstrom recently turned 30, and today’s goalies don’t tend to age well. The thing is, Markstrom has only gotten better with age. So what’s a fair term here for the two parties? That’s something they have to figure out.
If the two sides can’t reach a new deal, then the Canucks have to find a plan B. Demko only has 37 games of NHL experience, so it doesn’t make sense to hand him the starting duties right away.
I’ve looked at some pending UFA goaltenders that Vancouver should think about pursuing, including Jaroslav Halak (which you can read about here) and Braden Holtby (column here). Robin Lehner might also be worth exploring.
So as you can see, there’s no shortage of options for the Canucks. They can extend Markstrom and make a decision on Demko at the expansion draft next year. Or, they can let the former walk in free agency and sign a veteran netminder to split the duties with Demko.
Either way, goaltending has to be Benning’s No. 1 priority in the offseason. The Canucks have to make a decision on Markstrom before they work on contracts for their pending free agents.