There’s some debate over what the Vancouver Canucks are going to do about Jacob Markstrom and his need for a new contract. It’s certainly front-and-center news for the team this offseason and rightfully so because if they make the right decision, it could put Canucks in a good spot for a long time. The wrong decision could set them back in a major way.
There’s a group that says the Canucks absolutely need to get a deal done, sign it long-term, and move forward with Markstrom as the team’s starter for years. Those people will argue the future might be Thatcher Demko, but there’s no way to know that for sure and it’s far too early to make that bet.
Another group believes Demko’s recent play has potentially made Markstrom expendable. They may have case considering how effective Demko was in the starts he got before the Canucks were eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Finally, a third group is interested in keeping Markstrom, but only under the right circumstances. After all, the goaltending market in the NHL this offseason is a buyer’s one.
Where do the Canucks fall? Probably somewhere between ‘get the deal done’ and ‘well, it depends on what the deal looks like.’
Canucks Want to Keep Markstrom
Canucks general manager Jim Benning said Tuesday that he spoke to Markstrom’s agent, Pat Morris, and then relayed some of what was likely told to his goaltender to the media. “We want him back and we’re going to start working on that this week,” Benning said. And, despite the questions in goal, the Canucks have stuck to their public statements that Markstrom is their guy.
The question is, how high are the Canucks willing to go?
Some are suggesting a long-term deal could be in the $6 million or more range. That’s not incredibly expensive for a bonafide starter, but it’s also not inexpensive when you consider every dollar saved could mean keeping another player in a tight salary cap.
The Approach the Team “Has” To Take
Having Markstrom back at the right price is key. Therefore, the Canucks can only offer so much. As Ray Ferraro said on TSN1040 this past week, if Markstrom’s side comes in too high, the Canucks will have to be honest and say, “I’m sorry, we simply can’t make that offer.”
If that doesn’t work or Markstrom doesn’t come down, the team will need to decide how best to move on. Craig Button of TSN noted he’s already under the impression Demko has proved enough that the Canucks can be confident he can handle the load. Perhaps the Canucks have that same feeling and know they can always go there if need be.
Elliotte Friedman spoke in great detail about the strategy the Canucks likely have as they negotiate with Markstrom. Essentially, he said the Canucks are going to lay everything out on the table and say the following:
Absolutely Not to a No-Trade/No-Move Clause
The Canucks would be out of their minds to allow Markstrom to have trade and movement protection prior to the NHL Expansion Draft. Friedman says the Canucks will let Markstrom know that if he wants to stay, they first need to have the right to choose his future over the next year. Otherwise, the team has to leave Demko unprotected and that’s not an option.
Once Seattle joins the NHL and the Canucks can make their decision on the goaltending (keeping Markstrom or Demko), he can have a no-trade worked into his deal. It simply won’t be there in the first season.
Back-load the Contract
Friedman says that the Canucks may ask Markstrom to take less money upfront, but get more money at the tail end of the deal.
Nothing Over $6 Million
Finally, Friedman says the Canucks will stay firm on the price and let Markstrom know that they simply can’t go north of $6 million. And they may even tell him not to bother asking.
Friedman then suggests Markstrom will have all the information he needs to either stick with Vancouver or test the market. Should he not want to roll with what the Canucks are offering, he can move on and the team can focus more on Demko, acquiring a 1B and improving their blue line.
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