Joel Dorcas | March 29th, 2020
The Vancouver Canucks have made some big strides this season. Almost an afterthought to be in the playoff picture this late, Van-city finds themselves smack-dab in the race for third place in the Pacific Division. Leading the charge is, last line of defense, 2020 all-star goaltender, Jacob Markstrom. The 11-year vet has had his fair share of ups and downs over his career. This year, however, the pendulum is shifting in his favor. Markstrom is now revered as one of the league’s top backstops. He will now enter Free Agency at an optimal time. Let’s dissect the situation and find out what could be in store for the 30-year-old native of Gavle Sweden.
Markstrom was drafted 31st overall in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers. He finished his tenure with the Cats having only suited up for 46 games. During this time frame was a stint in the Swedish Hockey League where Markstrom dominated for two seasons. He led the league in GAA at 2.01 and save percentage at .927. Markstrom never got an extensive look with the Panthers, a significant knee injury led to prolonged stints in the AHL.
Fast forward to 2014, Markstrom gets shipped out to Vancouver in a big trade for fan-favorite Roberto Luongo. Although this ends up rejuvenating his career, the turnaround isn’t immediate. At one point Markstrom finds himself as the number three option behind Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack. This, of course, lands him in the AHL again.
Finally, a door opens, number two goalie, Eddie Lack, gets traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. In steps Markstrom who promptly puts up solid numbers; 2015-16,.915 save %, ’17-’18, 23 wins, ’18-’19, 28 wins. This season year has been even better. 23 wins in just 43 games, a 2.75 GAA and a stellar .918 SV % on a mostly inexperienced team. Many are tabbing the Swede as the team’s MVP and for good reason. The team has quickly gone from rebuilding to competing in the matter of just a few seasons.
Despite a bumpy road, Markstrom has put together a very good body of work. A career 2.80 GAA and a .911 SV % on some less than spectacular teams. Presently Markstrom is playing out the final year of his latest contract making $3.67 M. How much will he fetch on his new deal? Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford are on the last years of their contracts which pay them $6.1 M and $6 M respectively. Other comparables are John Gibson at $6.4 M and Marc-Andre Fleury at $7 M. A deal in the neighborhood of $6 M per season makes plenty of sense.
The only question seems to be how the Canucks organization will handle the other players who will also enter Free Agency. Forward Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Chris Tanev are UFA’s, they will be looking for contracts in the $5 M range. RFA’s, forward Jake Virtanen and defenseman Troy Stecher will need to be addressed as well. The Canucks would like to sign each player but cap-space will be an issue. Jacob Markstrom is virtually essential to the teams’ future success and should be a number one priority.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images