Canucks: Jacob Markstrom has the most at stake vs. Wild


Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom has plenty to gain as they prepare for their qualifying round showdown with the Minnesota Wild.

Regardless of what happens in the return to play, the Vancouver Canucks aren’t facing that much pressure compared to the vast majority of the other playoff teams.

2019-20 has been a success already for the young Canucks. The star core of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser helped Vancouver earn its first playoff berth in five years.

And prior to the 2019-20 season suspension, the Canucks were still in the running to earn home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Vancouver surpassed expectations during the regular season, and now they get a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. But the team’s championship window hasn’t fully opened yet, so if their playoff journey is short and (not so) sweet, fans shouldn’t complain too much. They have to be happy with the progress this season.

As noted above, the Canucks can’t really feel all that much pressure. But there’s an exception for starting goalie Jacob Markstrom, who has plenty at stake here ahead of the postseason.

The 30-year-old Markstrom is a pending UFA. He’s expressed his desire to remain in Vancouver, but general manager Jim Benning is facing a looming salary cap crunch, so Markstrom’s future with the team is certainly in question.

If Markstrom performs poorly in Vancouver’s qualifying round series with Minnesota, it could impact Benning’s thoughts on re-signing him. A porous outing could also hurt Markstrom’s value in free agency.

But what if the team MVP stands on his head once again (as he’s done the last two years), and guides Vancouver past Minnesota, and what if he leads them to an upset in the first round?

In that case, Benning might feel inclined to approach Markstrom and ask him to fill out a blank check with his desired price. If not, Markstrom would at least enhance his free agent value tremendously — and perhaps he’d receive more interest than other UFA goalies such as Braden Holtby and Robin Lehner.

Last month, TSN 1040’s Rick Dhaliwal reported that Markstrom can get $6 million annually “on the open market.” Well, if Markstrom performs in the postseason the way he has over the past two regular season campaigns, Vancouver will have good reason to consider re-signing him at that price.

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Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat and Hughes will all be here over the long run. But Markstrom is playing for both a major contract as well as his future with the Canucks, and that’s why he has the most at stake in the series against Minnesota..