The Vancouver Canucks don’t want to part ways with their All-Star goaltender, but trading Jacob Markstrom might be the best course of action going forward.
Jacob Markstrom has emerged as the Most Valuable Player of the Vancouver Canucks. His stellar performance over the course of the last two seasons has been remarkable to say the very least, and ultimately he’s earned himself the right to be called an NHL All-Star.
His play has been nothing short of a tier one goaltender in the NHL, and the Canucks aren’t quite the same team without him. So what do you do in this situation? Lock him up. Give him all the money he wants. Do whatever it takes… In a perfect world, that’s exactly what general manager Jim Benning would do. But the world is not perfect, and neither are the Canucks.
Before the announced raise in salary took a nosedive after COVID-19 struck the NHL, the Canucks were already in hot water in terms of having enough cap space to extend their players. And now Benning is going to get really creative if he wishes to lockdown the importance of what makes this team good.
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Markstrom may be the MVP of the 2020 Canucks, but what about two or three years from now when Vancouver is truly ready to contend for a championship? By then Markstrom will be 33-years-old and nearing the downslope of his peak playing days. History shows that aging goalies don’t fair well, and looking at the core of this current roster, their “Stanley Cup window” lines up a lot better with the 24-year-old Thatcher Demko than it does the aging Markstrom.
As much as it pains me to say it, extending Markstrom and keeping him around over their rising backup could prove to be fatal for this team’s longterm chances of winning championships. He’s solid, don’t get me wrong. But he’s never truly cashed-in, and the 30-year-old Swedish netminder is going to demand big money and big term. Do the Canucks want to commit to the back half of whatever that contract may look like? It’s important to keep the looming extensions of Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in mind. They’ll likely start negotiations at $10 million apiece when the time comes.
In another year or two, possibly even by the end of next season, Demko will be ready to be an elite starting goalie in the NHL and the Canucks will be happy they didn’t commit to Markstrom for too long. Around the same time, Markstrom’s career will be nearing its close, yet he’ll still be raking in elite goalie money. the Canucks already have enough money tied up in Roberto Luongo. They don’t need that to happen again.
The Canucks’ best course of action would be getting value for Markstrom now. Do whatever it takes. His value has never been so high. Sign Markstrom to an extension if possible (to increase his value even more), but look to move him to create space in a sign-and-trade deal. This team lacks high draft picks and good defense. With Demko nearly ready, bringing back draft picks or a top-four defender would do the trick and improve this team overall.
It’s going to sting and the Canucks might actually take a small step back initially, but two years from now Vancouver will be in a way better position because of it. It could be the deciding factor in winning or losing a Stanley Cup.