Rumours and Revelations: Trading goalies within division, drafting by position

Dec 19 2017, 3:46 pm

The Canucks are going to trade Eddie Lack. Or it’ll be Jacob Markstrom. But probably Lack. Either way, Ryan Miller isn’t going anywhere. But that’s what we said about Cory Schneider. This is Vancouver, so anything is possible. Let’s dip our toes in this and more in another edition of Rumours and Revelations. 

Lack on the move


What would summertime in Vancouver be without a massively complex goalie controversy? We know that GM Jim Benning has to move one of his three NHL-calibre goalies and thanks to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, we know that it won’t be Ryan Miller.

After their scouting meetings, Benning was willing to say two things: First, Ryan Miller is not the one being traded. Second, while he is looking to get a second-round draft pick for the one he traded earlier, “We are also looking to make hockey trades.” So, if it is Eddie Lack, for example, it’s not guaranteed to be Lack for a pick. Possible, but not a lock.

While it’s possible that Jacob Markstrom gets moved instead of Eddie Lack, I just can’t see it happening. Jim Benning appears to have supreme confidence in Ryan Miller as a number one goalie. He has also hinted that he wants to regain some draft picks, given that he has already traded away his second and third round picks. Given that way of thinking, it’s logical to trade the backup that brings the biggest return. And that goalie is Eddie Lack.

Now, in my world, I would prefer to keep the better, younger goalie, and that goalie is not Ryan Miller and his crippling $6 million contract. At this point, I have more confidence in Lack and I don’t see that getting better given Miller’s age.

The safe play before last season was to bring in a veteran goalie, given that Lack and Markstrom were largely unproven in the NHL. Ironically, the safe play before next season is to keep Lack.

Who needs a goalie?


If Eddie Lack is on the move, there are a few possible destinations that make sense. Buffalo and Edmonton are without a bonafide number one goalie and are rebuilding. San Jose is moving on from Antti Niemi, so they’re in the market. Karri Ramo is a free agent in Calgary and Jonas Hiller has just one year remaining on his contract, so Lack may fit into their plans. If Minnesota is unable/unwilling to re-sign Devan Dubnyk, then perhaps Eddie Lack makes sense for them as well.

So there are probably just five teams looking to secure a starting goalie this summer, with Devan Dubnyk, Cam Talbot, Robin Lehner, Karri Ramo, Jhonas Enroth and Eddie Lack with some NHL-starter pedigree. Lack probably ranks third on that list of available goalies and Dubnyk probably re-signs in Minnesota. Stay tuned.

Trading within the division


Three of the five teams I listed above in need of a goalie are in the Canucks’ division. Would Vancouver deal with Edmonton, Calgary or San Jose? Elliotte Friedman didn’t think so in this morning’s 30 Thoughts column.

The Canucks are surrounded by teams that are a fit for Eddie Lack, in particular. He’d be useful for Calgary, Edmonton or San Jose but would Jim Benning want to help any of them? I doubt it.

This is a philosophy that shouldn’t be of concern to the Canucks. They should make the trade that helps them the most against 28 teams, not just one. This isn’t 2011 and you aren’t helping the Chicago Blackhawks. Vancouver is not a Stanley Cup contender and they need to be thinking about the big picture.

And besides, there are other options available for these teams anyway. Imagine turning down value from Edmonton, only to see them snag Cam Talbot instead.

History lesson


Another great tidbit from today’s 30 Thoughts column was revisiting the Cory Schneider trade. Schneider was eventually traded to the New Jersey Devils for the 9th overall selection in the 2013 Draft.

The Edmonton Oilers were interested in Schneider, but Canucks GM Mike Gillis had a higher asking price for a team within his division.

I’ve referenced it before, but hours prior to Cory Schneider’s trade to New Jersey, the Canucks and Oilers talked about it, with Vancouver wanting a first-rounder, a second-rounder and Martin Marincin. A team in their division was going to pay a higher price than the Devils.

In order to trade Schneider to a division “rival” (can you call a team a rival if they have missed the playoffs in nine consecutive seasons?), the Canucks demanded an extra premium in the way of the 37th overall pick and a prospect.

Now, the deal still made sense from an Edmonton perspective, they still haven’t solved their goaltending issues, but that’s not the point.

The Oilers would have been better with Cory Schneider the last two seasons, but they were still doomed.

As luck would have it, not trading Schneider to the Oilers actually helped Edmonton in the end, who surely would not be getting Connor McDavid had they had reasonable goaltending, never mind elite goaltending.

Drafting by position


There will be another test in logic coming up in the NHL Draft this week. With the 23rd overall pick, we can’t be sure who will be available, but Jim Benning could be faced with an interesting dilemma.

With Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Cole Cassels, Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, the Canucks are loaded with young forward prospects. They would love to select a defenceman in the first round.

But not so fast.

If the best player available by a significant margin is a centre or a winger, then Vancouver needs to draft a forward, or move down in the draft and collect more assets. Our prospects guru Ryan Biech likes to call this “asset management” and he’s absolutely right.

There are no guarantees at the draft, and the number one goal should be to collect useful assets for the future.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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