Free agency opens October 9 and that means the Vancouver Canucks are watching their window to sign goalie Jacob Markstrom shrink by the day.
There is still time to get something done and sign the 30-year-old to a new deal, but there are reasons to believe things aren’t going smoothly. Reports out of Vancouver suggest that negotiations to get Markstrom signed have gone on for up to 16 months, with no deal done and nothing specific on the horizon.
Talk is currency in the sports world and rumours are big business. But if there’s something to the idea that both camps are far apart, the Canucks are going to have to get something cooking in time for the next NHL season – whenever that may be.
Markstrom just saw his current contract, a three-year deal signed in July of 2016, run out. That carried a cap hit of roughly $3.7 million and you can bet he could land more on his next deal.
If the Canucks don’t oblige, they’ve got options.
Thatcher Demko proved himself in the bubble. The Vegas Golden Knights are still having nightmares about his play, as the kid played in just four games and allowed two goals against on 128 shots.
The question remains if Demko can carry the full schedule in 2020-2021 and, frankly, few would bet against him. But the Canucks could use someone in support, at the very least.
There are some interesting prospects, like Braden Holtby. The 31-year-old is set to test free agency after spending a decade with the Capitals. While he’s seen his star fall, he’s still a Stanley Cup Champion netminder and there’s a lot to like about what he could bring to the table.
Other captivating UFA possibilities include Cam Talbot, who wants a gig as a starter but could push Demko, or a wild card like 31-year-old Aaron Dell. The latter shoved Martin Jones around in the starting post in San Jose before the pause, but the Sharks want to move on. That could open the door for Vancouver to take a run.
A whole lot can happen over the next few days, but the Canucks might have to face life without Jacob Markstrom. The good news is that they’ve got choices and a bright future already waiting in the wings.
Image: The Associated Press