To say that Jacob Markstrom is under the microscope this season is an understatement.
The 6’6″ Swedish netminder has some extremely large shoes to fill after the Canucks traded the uber popular Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 3rd pick at the draft in June. It is hard enough to break into the NHL on a full-time basis for a goaltender, but this situation comes packed with pressure.
Hey, it’s not like he is going to play that much anyways, right?
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 17, 2015
Barring injury, Markstrom should be counted on to start about 22-27 games this season. There is no denying that his time to establish himself as an NHL goalie is right now. This might not be his last chance, but it certainly is his best chance.
Markstrom, a 2nd round pick (31st overall) by the Florida Panthers in 2008, has never lived up to the hype. Once considered the best goalie prospect not in the NHL, Jacob has routinely put up elite numbers at the AHL level, but his success hasn’t translated to the NHL level.
But this past season, the 25-year-old Markstrom took his game to another level. With the Comets, he posted career highs in wins (22-7-2 record), save percentage (.934) and goals against average (1.88).
Still, many consider Markstrom a flop and his performance with the Canucks last year perpetuated that belief. Markstrom appeared in just three games with the Canucks, posting a .879 SV% and 3.08 GAA.
Daniel Sedin, ever the optimist, doesn’t seem too worried at all to have fellow countryman Markstrom between the pipes.
Daniel on Markstrom – "He's looked good when we skated with him, I think he's going to surprise some people this year." #Canucks
— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) September 17, 2015
While Canucks fans may be skeptical of Daniel’s confidence in Markstrom, we shouldn’t discount the effect that Canucks goalie coach Rollie Melanson could have in Markstrom’s development.
Everyone witnessed how Eddie Lack went from an undrafted free agent flyer to a goalie that appears to be a legitimate option as a #1 NHL goalie. A lot of Lack’s development can be credited to Melanson.
Is it really a stretch to conclude that the bigger, more athletic Markstrom will have the same development curve as Lack under Melanson’s tutelage? Not at all and the Canucks are banking on this.
— Jacob Markstrom (@j_markstrom) May 3, 2015
This is a pressure situation for Markstrom, no doubt. For the sake of the Canucks and for Markstrom, let’s hope he can handle the scrutiny that this season will bring.