Canucks: Lehner’s contract should set the bar for re-signing Markstrom

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

Will Robin Lehner’s new contract with the Vegas Golden Knights change the Vancouver Canucks’ approach to re-signing goaltender Jacob Markstrom?

The price for top goaltenders who are about to hit the open market has officially been set.

Robin Lehnerthe best available UFA goaltender according to Emily Sadler of Sportsnet — has reportedly signed the long rumoured five-year, $25 million dollar deal. The 29-year-old became a member of the Golden Knights as a 1b option to Marc-Andre Fleury, but his incredible play couldn’t be overlooked by the coaching staff for long. He quickly took the reigns as the team’s No. 1 starter and it appears that won’t be changing anytime soon.

The 10-year NHL pro has a lot in common with the Canucks’ back-to-back MVP and it will be very interesting to see how this will set the bar in terms of contract talks moving forward. It has been reported recently that Jacob Markstrom and the Vancouver Canucks‘ General Manager, Jim Benning have been “making progress” over the last few days but work remains to be done.

The Lehner deal should put things into perspective a bit more for both parties. Benning can now have a better gauge on how much Markstrom is worth. The two goalies are quite comparable in a few different areas including age, experience and skill. There is no doubt that Markstrom should understand that. He can see what a netminder of his calibre should be expecting if he doesn’t want to test free agency.

This signing couldn’t have come at a better time for the Canucks and it has to be considered a win for Benning. Francesco Aquilini should have no problem forking out an identical contract. Benning should sit firm on this new deal and see how Markstrom responds.

I personally believe it’s a fair contract for Benning to use as leverage in on-going negotiations. For starters, the two goaltenders had identical save percentages (0.918%) before Lehner’s three regular-season games as a member of Vegas. Secondly, they’re similar in age (29 and 30), and lastly, their playoff showdown was outer-worldly. Although Markstrom got hurt and the Canucks were terribly outshot, it felt like determining the winner was going to come down to which goaltender made few mistakes.

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As for the Canucks and Markstrom finding a happy ending, it’s going to come down to two things: Does Markstrom believe the Vancouver Canucks can win the Stanley Cup? And how much does he believe he’s worth to a championship contender on the open market?

Markstrom will understand the comparisons to Lehner that this new deal will likely bring up, but his agent will be happy to remind Benning of just how much the Canucks relied on him to win. Vancouver faced the fourth most amount of shots per game this season (33.3). On top of that, Markstrom was a beast when facing 40+ shots (8-0-1) and he finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting for the NHL’s best goaltender.

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It’ll be interesting to see how the Lehner contract will put things in motion for the Canucks and Markstrom. Vancouver has a number in mind, as does Markstrom and his agent. Maybe this will bring these two numbers closer together. Only time will tell. Free agency opens in six days.