Carolina Acquires Eddie Lack From Vancouver
The Vancouver Canucks have made a big splash on the second day of the draft by trading goaltender Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes for 3rd round pick in 2015, and a 7th round pick in 2016.
This marks the third time that the Canucks have traded a goaltender recently, turning Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider, and Lack into Bo Horvat, Shawn Matthias, Jacob Markstrom, and 3rd and 7th round picks.
The Canucks will now apparently run a goaltending duo of Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom next season, though Markstrom is still a restricted free agent they need to sign to a new contract.
Carolina still has 2006 Stanley Cup Winner Cam Ward signed for one more season, but has since traded Anton Khudobin to Anaheim, leaving the Hurricanes with a Lack-Ward tandem for the upcoming season.
Lack, who was originally signed by the Canucks as an undrafted free agent, will now work with goaltending coach David Marcoux in Carolina after coming off a career-best .921 save percentage season. His contract will also be expiring at the end of the season, but don’t be surprised if he signs an extension soon.
As befits one of the best twitter users in hockey, Lack made his statement via Twitter:
I want to thank @VanCanucks for the past 5 years! Everyone in and around the team are first class and I’ve made friends for life?
— Eddie Lack (@eddielack) June 27, 2015
This also mean we are closer to each other right????????????????? @strombone1
— Eddie Lack (@eddielack) June 27, 2015
That last, of course, refers to the once-but-no-longer-secret twitter identity of Roberto Luongo.
“The fan outrage in Vancouver is palpable and tied in large part to how popular Eddie Lack was. While his ability to manage the media and pressure of the market probably shouldn’t be ignored, and there could be a very real cost to this deal at the box office next season, this trade will be judged best in the long term based on how well Lack plays in Carolina and how well Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom do with the Canucks this season and next. It was our belief Lack has the highest upside of the three, but that opinion has been influenced by being part of the work Lack did the past couple of seasons and seeing the desire and drive to try new things and make himself better. When his body broke down two seasons ago under an absurd workload following the trade of Luongo, Lack rebuilt himself physically in the offseason. When things didn’t go well in the playoffs even after posting a .927 save percentage as the late-season No.1, Lack was back on the ice four days later and sought out Head Trajectory founder Lyle Mast. He quickly signed on to get ahead of the curve on a new philosophy that in even limited exposure helped Devan Dubnyk go from the AHL to Vezina Trophy finalist in one season. After seeing the differences in Lack’s game following those sessions, and knowing the three or four goals they would have saved in that playoff run alone, it was hard not to get excited about his potential. Hurricanes fans certainly should be now, especially with Cam Ward going into the final year of his deal.
“With all that said, however, it’s not fair to totally dismiss what Miller brings back to the Canucks crease, just as it’s not fair to judge Markstrom by his past struggles to make the jump from the AHL. It’s also not fair to judge Miller exclusively on a .911 save percentage that ended up 10 points below Lack’s season total. Miller was open to changes in his game under goalie coach Rollie Melanson and made them knowing there would be a statistical sacrifice early in the season, but with the belief it would pay off by the end of the season. Twelve years of movement habits and patterns don’t get changed overnight, but Miller was willing to adjust his game and ended up getting hurt just as there were signs it was starting to pay off on the ice. As for the injury itself and concerns over relying so heavily on a goalie who turns 35 in mid-July, it was a fluke collision with a teammate and not a wear-and-tear injury for a goalie who has been durable for most of his career. There will always be a bit more ups-and-downs for a goalie that still relies a bit more on rhythm and timing than others, but there’s no reason to think Miller can’t get back to what the Canucks acquired him as: a consistently above average NHL starter capable of playing 60 games, and a composed crease presence that should be capable of handling the increased fan pressure that will come after the Lack trade.
“Markstrom has also made a lot of strides since coming to the Canucks and the raw size and skill that once made him the world’s best goaltending prospect outside the NHL remain. He is huge and moves exceptionally well for his size. Melanson reigned in his positional game, which reduced the holes he opened by moving too much from too aggressive positions early in his career, and just as Lack gets credit for busting his ass to get better, Markstrom did the same last summer, stepping up his physical training while working hard to adopt the tactical changes. He took another step in the AHL this season under the guidance of Dan Cloutier, who freed up some of that positioning, allowing Markstrom to again use some of the instinctual elements that made him such a promising prospect. Throughout that process, Markstrom appears to have found better balance in his tactical game, allowing him to use the obvious athleticism without relying too much on it. As for judging him too harshly on past struggles in the NHL, most came prior to that work and almost all of it was in fits and starts. He has never been given a chance to get comfortable in the NHL, and that’s part of the process of succeeding there.
“As for why the Canucks chose Markstrom over Lack, it’s possible even their goalie people changed their minds after what Markstrom did in the AHL last season. It’s also possible the Canucks wanted to avoid the daily circus that would have surrounded Lack and Miller competing for starts, something the franchise already experienced with Luongo and Cory Schneider, and there have been rumblings some in the organization don’t see Lack’s gregarious personality befitting of a No.1 goalie. Since the trade, management has expressed concerns over the cost of re-signing Lack, who could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but Lack left Vancouver for the summer expecting to sign a contract extension. It’s a deal that could have been done for four years at $4-million a season, which doesn’t seem totally out of line given all four seasons would have been unrestricted years, but would have made 2016-17 expensive with Miller earning $6-million in the final year of his deal. I guess it depends on how high they viewed Lack’s upside, but even if the Canucks decision today is proven wrong over the next two years, the reality of the market is they can probably find replacement level goaltending without spending too much. The price Carolina paid for Lack proved it.”
~ Kevin Woodley, InGoal Magazine Managing Editor