The first thing Vancouver Canucks fans, must be saying to themselves, aside from, “What the (expletive) is our GM doing?” is, “Is that’s all we got for Roberto Luongo? We’ve sat through this ridiculous soap opera for the last two years for this?”
You’ll recall that about a year ago, the Canucks could have had Tyler Bozak and James Reimer, perhaps even a little more, in exchange for Luongo. Canucks GM Mike Gillis balked at that price, hedging his bets that he could get more for a goaltender with an onerous contract. And as a result, in less than nine months, the Canucks have gone from having a goaltending tandem consisting of Luongo and Cory Schneider to one made up of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom.
And now Canucks fans can officially say goodbye to being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender – if they hadn’t already made that emotional break – and welcome once again being in the ranks of mediocrity. And if they’re going to do that, they might as well get things over with, deal Ryan Kesler for some youth and draft picks and rebuild around the promising core of youngsters they have in their organization.
In Markstrom and Matthias, the Canucks get two young players who have failed to live up to their potential. Matthias, once one of the Detroit Red Wings top prospects, was dealt to Florida for Todd Bertuzzi – how’s that for a delicious irony? – and has maxed out as a bottom-six forward. Markstrom, once one of the hottest young goaltending commodities outside the NHL, could never find any consistency in four years of trying to stick with the Panthers and, when he was traded, was playing in the American League. Prior to acquiring Luongo, the Panthers had a goaltending tandem of Tim Thomas and Scott Clemmensen. That should speak volumes of what they thought of Markstrom.
How Gillis manages to spin this debacle into something he can present to Canuck fans as anything positive will be a fascinating spectacle over the next couple of days. That’s because this can be framed as nothing but a colossal miscalculation by the Canuck GM, who made the mistake of overvaluing a goaltender with solid credentials, but also with a contract that by Luongo’s own estimation, sucked.
Speaking for the market for goaltenders, wasn’t this trade deadline supposed to be a flat one for the men with the (too) big pads? If the pundits were to be believed, there appeared to be no sense in overpaying for goaltending, which was supposed to have stifled the market. But if not for the movement of goalies, so far we’d be debating the merits of the Mike Weaver trade to the Montreal Canadiens.
In fact, since last Friday, a total of six goalies have moved – Luongo, Markstrom, Ryan Miller, Jaroslav Halak, Viktor Fasth and Ilya Bryzgalov. The biggest trade of the deadline so far has been the Miller move to St. Louis, which set into motion the dominos that led to Pat LaFontaine leaving the organization and Ted Nolan not receiving the long-term extension he was on the verge of signing.
So much for goaltenders being inconsequential at this deadline.
Many of these moves could turn out to be nothing more than arranging deck chairs, because when you boil down most of these deadline trades, that’s exactly what they are. But on the other hand, there is one team that might have finally come out on top of all of this movement.
And that team would be…the Edmonton Oilers? Wait a minute. Stop laughing here. The Oilers are a very bad team that is many players away from being a contender at the moment, but at least they now have the some security and stability in goal with Ben Scrivens and Fasth. They recently signed Scrivens to a two-year deal worth $2.3 million a year and have Fasth under contract through next season at $2.9 million.
It was only a year ago that Fasth essentially split the lockout-shortened season with Jonas Hiller and had superior numbers to Hiller in every category. Although he couldn’t keep that job because of the emergence of Frederik Andersen, Fasth was also caught up in an organization that had a logjam in goal.
And remember, the Oilers started this season with a tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera, with a helping of Bryzgalov. Scrivens and Fasth represent a definite upgrade on that situation and in one area at least, have the Oilers pointed in a positive direction.