The Vancouver Canucks and goaltender Jacob Markstrom are nearing a contract extension, according to a report from News 1130.
Hearing the #Canucks are working away with goalie Jacob Markstrom's agent and are getting close to a contract extension.
— NEWS 1130 Sports (@NEWS1130Sports) July 5, 2016
After a spectacular season with the Utica Comets in 2014-15, Markstrom had a big year for the Canucks last season, his first full one in the NHL. The 6-foot-6 netminder started 30 games, going 13-14-4 with a .915 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.73.
Goaltending was of the lone bright spots in a dreadful season for Vancouver, and Markstrom was equal to starter Ryan Miller in terms of production, albeit in fewer games.
Next season should be a transition year for Markstrom, who will aim to prove that he can be a number-one goalie. Markstrom will have a chance to get more of the net, as the team prepares him for life as the top dog.
After that, it’s likely Markstrom’s crease to lose in 2017-18. Ryan Miller will turn 36 before next season and is in the last year of his contract. It’s doubtful the Canucks will re-sign him unless he wants to be a back-up, making back-up money.
Vancouver could go with a tandem of Markstrom and Thatcher Demko in a year’s time, although that’s likely rushing the youngster. More likely, the Canucks would look for an affordable, experienced back-up to buy time before Demko is ready to make the jump.
If the Canucks are decided that Markstrom is their man going forward, then signing him to a deal this summer now makes the most sense. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 next year and could get a lot of leverage if he plays well.
Linden says talks for a new contract with Jakob Markstrom are ongoing and he's hopeful something could get done this summer. #CanucksOn1040
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) July 5, 2016
Re-signing Markstrom before the season makes a lot of sense for both parties, as the Canucks will want cost certainty and Markstrom will want job certainty.
Expansion draft strategy
It’s important to note that the Canucks, like every NHL team, will need to set themselves up appropriately before next year’s expansion draft. All 30 teams will need to expose a goaltender that is either under contract for 2017-18 or is a restricted free agent, and has more than two years of pro experience.
At the moment, none of the Canucks goaltenders meet those requirements, as Markstrom, Miller, and AHL goaltender Richard Bachman, are all set to become UFAs. Demko, and recent free agent signing Michael Garteig will have less than two years of pro experience and will be ineligible.
Vancouver will want to protect Markstrom and expose another goaltender. In order for that to happen they’ll need to trade for a goalie by June of next year or sign one of Miller or Bachman to an extension.
Getting Markstrom signed shouldn’t be a problem, but the question is at what dollar value and term?
Jake Allen, Martin Jones, and Eddie Lack are of a similar age and were all signed to new contracts last season.
St. Louis identified Allen – who was a year younger than Markstrom when they re-signed him – as their future #1 goalie. He was coming off a season where he started 32 games and had a .913 save percentage. He inked a four-year contract extension that carried a $4.35 million cap hit last summer.
San Jose traded for Jones so he could be their number-one goalie and signed the restricted free agent to a three-year deal worth $3 million per season. Jones was a year younger than Markstrom is now, had only ever started 29 games in the NHL, but had a career .923 save percentage.
Eddie Lack, as you might remember, was traded to Carolina last summer. He signed a two-year extension with the Hurricanes that carried a $2.75 million cap hit. Lack was coming off a strong season where he started 35 games and posted a .921 save percentage, but was a year older than Markstrom is now.
With those numbers to look at as comparables, a fair deal for Markstrom would probably be in the $3 million range, on a three-year deal.
That would allow Demko to develop and potentially take over as their starting goalie in the last year of Markstrom’s deal.