Waiving Markstrom The Right Choice
Vancouver avoided another long winded goaltending controversy this week, waiving Jacob Markstrom and in doing so clearing the way to send him to the AHL.
The 24-year old was drafted 31st overall by Florida in 2008, with the Panthers pegging him as their future #1. Despite numerous opportunities to take the reigns, the young Swede was never able to convert a promising AHL career in to anything substantial in the NHL, and he was traded to Vancouver last season as part of the deal that took Roberto Luongo back to the Sunshine State.
With Ryan Miller joining the Canucks this summer, the organisation had three netminders competing for two spots. Miller starts the season as #1, and Eddie Lack impressed last season despite the circus that went on around him. As a result, there was little room for Markstrom heading in to the new campaign.
Given his difficulties over the past few seasons, and the clubs goaltending situation, sending Markstrom down is the right choice for everyone.
The risk of losing him via waivers was small, much for the same reasons a trade was unlikely – the goaltending market is extremely weak right now. With one or two very minor exceptions, NHL clubs have their pairings set.
Carrying a $1.2m cap hit, 10 clubs simple could not afford Markstrom from the get go. You can also rule out Montreal and Minnesota (who both have three netminders on the books) – eliminating almost half the league from any potential move before you can say ‘five hole’.
The remaining clubs interest in a youngster who was supposed to be ‘the next big thing’, but has failed to develop (thus far) can be described as ‘questionable’ at best. Ottawa, for example, have Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson signed to 3-year deals, Anaheim are going with two young guns and Carolina have a goaltending controversy of their own brewing to name but three clubs who were unlikely to have an interest in the big Swede.
The merits of Curtis McElhinney as backup in Columbus can be debated (though consider they have Oscar Dansk in the system), and there are still question marks over who will backup Corey Schneider in New Jersey (Scott Clemmensen seems most likely) – but however you look at it, the number of clubs who might have attempted to claim him on waivers, or broach the subject of a trade, was thin at best. It was a risk worth taking for Vancouver.
Add in free agents like Tim Thomas still being available, and teams were even more unlikely to give up any kind of asset (even a late pick) for Markstrom – thus reducing the risk to Vancouver further.
In the AHL, Markstrom now has an opportunity to rebuild his confidence and continue to develop his game under Rollie Melanson’s watchful eye. He made progress last season after arriving in BC, and can now get serious playing time to go along with the technical development he began to undergo in Vancouver.
Once he is back on track, Vancouver has the option to keep him (and move Lack) or trade him – and they can time any such move to maximise their return.
The end result is that this move is a winner for all parties – and it was always the best course of action to take.