In one of the more depressing rumors of the NHL offseason, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun is reporting the Vancouver Canucks are shopping goaltender Eddie Lack and looking for a second-round pick in return.
The Canucks are trying to make room for Jacob Markstrom and GM Jim Benning is seeking a second-round pick in return.
Why is this depressing? Because the Canucks are putting too little stock in what Lack did last season. Despite starting the season as the backup, Lack overtook starter Ryan Miller and played spectacularly, posting an 18-13-4 record with a .921 save percentage and a stringy 2.45 GAA. The 27-year-old looked and played at times like a legitimate number one goalie. Even if you don’t see Lack as a number one, he outplayed Miller – facing more shots and posting a higher save percentage at even strength.
Now there is logic behind trading Lack. He’s coming off the best season of his career and his value likely won’t be higher than it is, unless he takes another leap forward next season. He’s also an unrestricted free agent after next year, so instead of seeing him walk, Benning might want to maximize his asset. The Canucks may be in rebuilding mode, so going younger and acquiring draft picks may be their best route.
I have two main issues with the rumor, the first being cost. If I’m the Edmonton Oilers, or another team in desperate need of a capable goaltender, I phone up the Canucks immediately and meet that demand. A second-round pick is largely inconsequential compared to a starting NHL goalie, especially Lack. While he doesn’t have an amazingly large sample size of NHL success, he’s stopped pucks at every pro level, and there’s little doubt he’s an NHL caliber goaltender. The St. Louis Blues acquired a second-round pick for Ben Bishop, and he had only played 13 NHL games up until that point. The Nashville Predators got two second-round picks and a third rounder for Anders Lindback – a career backup with 36 games of NHL experience.
The other problem with trading Lack is what it would leave Vancouver. Miller has two-years with $12 million left on his contract and is clearly in decline. Jacob Markstrom has dominated at the AHL level but has looked completely lost during his short stints in the NHL. He’s also only two years younger than Lack. That would be putting a lot of faith in two goalies who both have given no reason to believe they’ll be successful at the NHL level next season.
The Canucks should keep Lack and explore trading Miller – if that’s even possible. If they do part with him, it would be flabbergasting – yet on par – for a team who’s made multiple boneheaded decisions recently.