The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed goaltender Richard Bachman and left winger Mike Zalewski, each to one-year, two-way contract extensions.
Both players are expected to play the entirety of next season in Utica, but the Bachman signing is an important one for the Canucks with regards to the expansion draft.
With Las Vegas entering the league next season, the existing 30 NHL teams will have to expose players in an expansion draft in June. Teams will only be able to protect seven forwards, four defencemen, and one goalie, with players with two years of pro experience or less being exempt. Teams also need to expose at least one goaltender with more than two years experience that is under contract for 2017-18, and that’s where Bachman comes in.
Vancouver will want to protect the recently re-signed Jacob Markstrom, who is set to become the team’s number one goalie in a year’s time. Ryan Miller does not have a contract for 2017-18, and both Thatcher Demko and Michael Garteig will have only completed one professional season at that time.
Bachman is the second goaltender under contract for 2017-18, which means the 28-year-old – a veteran of seven pro seasons – can be left exposed.
If the Canucks were to have entered the expansion draft without a second veteran goalie under contract for 2017-18, Markstrom would be on his way to Vegas.
Bachman appeared in 35 games for the Comets last year, posting a .900 save percentage. He’ll share the net next season with Demko, who will play in his rookie season as a professional.
The other player signed today, Mike Zalewski, is a 23-year-old left winger from New Hartford, Connecticut who appeared in three games with the Canucks last season, notching one assist. He scored 33 points (16-17-33) in 58 games with the Comets, in what was his second full pro season.
Zalewski isn’t high on the Canucks’ depth chart of prospects, so expect him to play the entire year in Utica, barring a breakout season or a string of injuries with the NHL club.