• Sean Holmes-Smith

A Whale of an Offseason - Part 1

With the Covid-19 Pandemic throwing wrenches into all the plans around the league the Canucks are going to need to retool a few parts of their roster and set themselves up for next offseason when they have to sign their two franchise players in Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, and fill out the roster behind them to make a Stanley Cup contender. Building from the net out is key and the Canucks have now retooled what their Goaltending situation is.

Markstrom vs Holtby and Demko

Jacob Markstrom is one hell of a success story for the Canucks, as they were able to tap the talent that had Markstrom being touted as one of the best goaltenders not in the NHL when he was playing in Sweden. The Canucks had the luxury over the past 1.5 seasons to have Markstrom playing as a top tier goaltender and were able to ride him into a playoff run this past season.

The Canucks while having the luxury of having a goaltender playing at the top of his game and giving them a chance to win almost every night have also been developing an understudy and heir apparent in Thatcher Demko. Demko was given the opportunity to run with the ball a couple times this past season, once when Markstrom had to go back home to Sweden to deal with the death of father and once when Markstrom was injured late in the season. Then came the unbelievable 3 game stretch when Demko came in to relieve an injured Markstrom in the 2nd round of the playoffs vs Vegas. Thatcher Demko played at a level that really made the Canucks think about their goaltending future.

Jacob Markstrom, wanting and deserving of a long term contract that had protection against the Seattle Expansion Draft, and the Canucks, wanting flexibility with the Expansion Draft was a gap that wasn’t going to be bridged. The Canucks needed to move on and find a new goalie to tandem with Thatcher Demko, and they got that in Braden Holtby.

Braden Holtby is a solid veteran goaltender who has had a couple rough years but those years have come after losing some major structure and support when losing one of the best goaltender coaches in Mitch Korn and a head coach in Barry Trotz who can build defensive systems that really help goaltenders. Holtby now gets to work with another top end Goalie Coach in Ian Clark. Holtby also only signed a 2 year deal at $4.3M, which will help the Canucks this season and next season on the cap and in prep for the Expansion Draft too.

While losing Markstrom hurts the Canucks, the tandem of Demko and Holtby has the potential to make up for the majority of that and the Canucks are better set up for the Expansion Draft. For me I think the Canucks have a good chance at coming out on the better end of this decision.

Looking in the future there are a couple stories that we need to pay attention to. The Canucks Goalie Guru, Ian Clark only has one more year left on his contract and they need to do what they can to keep him as we can all see the impact he’s had on Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko and even Mikey DiPietro. DiPietro transitioned very well from Junior to the Pros and looks to be well on his way to becoming an NHL goaltender. If DiPietro can continue his development the Canucks may have another young goaltender that will help them compete for years to come.

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