A wise man once told me that change was good because without change you can’t buy gumballs. Given the amount of change that happened in Vancouver this offseason, it looks like the Canucks are going to be chewing gum for a long time. Here’s a look at what changed during the off-season and what to expect this season.
GM Jim Benning had a difficult decision to make this offseason, with three NHL-caliber goaltenders and obviously only two spots. Benning revealed that he had legitimate offers for Ryan Miller but chose instead to deal fan favourite Eddie Lack, which did not sit well with the fan base. The return for Eddie Lack – a 2015 3rd rounder and 2016 7th round pick were lackluster at best; especially after seeing other promising young goaltenders Martin Jones and Robin Lehner return 2015 1st round picks.
After the dust settled, the Canucks were still left with two very good goaltenders in veteran Ryan Miller and up and comer Jacob Markstrom. Benning and team president Trevor Linden are convinced that this team will follow up its surprise 101 point season with another playoff berth. They also believe that Miller gives them the best opportunity to make it back there – it’s tough to disagree with them. In his first season in royal blue and Kelly green, the 34 year-old netminder posted starter quality numbers. In 45 games, the East Lansing native finished the season 29-15-1 with a .911 SV %, a 2.53 GAA and 6 SOs, good for 4th in the NHL.
In Markstrom, the Canucks have a goaltender that is ready to be in the NHL full time. The 25 year old had a sensational season in the AHL last year going 22-7-2 with a .934 SV % and 1.88 GAA in 32 starts during the regular season. Markstrom stepped it up in the playoffs leading the Utica Comets to the Calder Cup Final almost single-handedly. Markstrom has been patient biding his time in the AHL, honing his craft and the Canucks have rewarded his hard work and patience.