Canucks: Thatcher Demko’s contract is closely tied to Ian Clark’s future

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 22: Goalie Thatcher Demko #35 of the Vancouver Canucks readies to make a save during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 22: Goalie Thatcher Demko #35 of the Vancouver Canucks readies to make a save during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
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Yesterday, a bombshell was dropped by reporters out of nowhere as Thatcher Demko had signed a five-year, $25 million contract to remain with the Vancouver Canucks for the foreseeable future.

The initial response to the deal was overwhelmingly positive since this will theoretically lock-in Demko’s prime years from his age 25-30 seasons. So far this year, he has performed like a top 10 goalie in the league, which is a great sign if he could keep it up as it means that he’ll be playing above his pay grade.

The question, of course, is whether or not he will sustain his high-performance level, and this will largely be tied to Ian Clark’s future with the team. If you’re not familiar with Clark, he’s the goalie coach for Vancouver and has been a member of the club since 2018. Clark is widely regarded as one of, if not the best goalie coach in the entire league since he’s helped many netminders develop into elite players for their respective teams.

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In that same token, countless goaltenders have also witnessed an alarming drop-off in performance after Clark left the organization, and the most recent example of this would be Jacob Markstrom. After being Vancouver’s MVP over the last two seasons, Markstrom’s numbers have been underwhelming this year; the Swede currently sports a 2.94 goals against average to go along with a .902 save percentage.

If he doesn’t improve upon those averages, this would be the worst season he’s ever had as a starting netminder in the league, and the Canucks now look wise to let him walk in free agency. Moreover, Clark was instrumental in helping Markstrom become an elite goalie. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the former Canuck began dominating in the crease in the same season that Clark returned to Vancouver.

The Athletic’s Harman Dayal summed it up perfectly in a tweet yesterday and he even included the performance of Sergei Bobrovsky to illustrate Clark’s impact.

https://twitter.com/harmandayal2/status/1377332664793894916

Now, the reason I’m bringing up Clark right now is because his contract with the Canucks ends this summer and should obviously be a priority for the team to re-sign. Many people have praised management for the contract that they just gave Demko, and while it’s a good deal, there’s a chance that it could go sideways if Clark is with another organization come this fall.

Of course, Demko is still largely responsible for his meteoric rise and should be praised, but as we’ve seen with Bobrovsky and Markstrom, there’s undoubtedly a correlation between each goalie’s performance and their ties with Clark.

So, yes, Demko’s new contract should be praised, but I’ll be much more comfortable with it if Clark re-signs with Vancouver this summer.

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But what do you think, Canucks fans? Am I placing too much emphasis on the impact of Ian Clark? Let us know in the comments below!