The Roberto Luongo situation has been talked to death. Is his heart going to be in it this season after he was led to believe he would be traded? Of course it is. Are the trade questions going to go away? Nope. Forget about that stuff. A bigger question facing the Canucks is "who is going to be Luongo's backup this season? " That's what is likely to be decided during and / or soon after this training camp / preseason.
The situation is a bit tricky. Two Swedes lead the way as candidates: Eddie Lack and Joacim Eriksson. Some say that the job is Lack's to lose. However, Eddie has not played in goal since November of 2012 after a hip injury. Here are his stats:
For a 25 year-old, that's not a lot of experience on North American ice. Those are solid numbers for his 2011-12 season in Chicago and in Manitoba the previous year, where he was named to the AHL's All-Rookie Team. During that stellar year in Chicago, Lack and Matt Climie established a franchise record for lowest combined goals against average of 2.54. Lack has speed and size (6'5", 196 pounds). His nickname is "Stork". Given his size and speed he has a chance to make the cut as Luongo's backup....NHL experience be damned.
Lack showed off his new Canucks mask on Friday:
How about a slew of Lack highlights:
Unlike Lack, Joacim Eriksson was drafted into the NHL by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 7th round in 2008. He became a forgotten man in Sweden until the Canucks signed him this year. Eriksson is smaller in stature than Lack, standing at 6'1" and 189 pounds. Here are his career stats:
The Canucks saw something there in the 23 year-old and jumped at it. Can't say I blame them. But here is a guy with no North American experience at all.
As I said, Eriksson is relatively obsolete, but here are a few saves to showcase his reflexes:
I would love to see more highlights from Eriksson.
Lack and Eriksson have a very healthy competition going on right now. They hang out off the ice. Given Lack's experience in North America, I have to agree that the job is his to lose. But if neither goalie impresses enough at camp and preseason, a problem arises. First of all...how many games is Luongo going to play?
I see no reports that give much clarification on the matter.
Via The Province:
"I think so. I don’t know," Luongo answered when asked if he’s still capable of playing 65 to 70 games.
"I think I’m in pretty good shape. It all depends on the travel and the schedule and all that stuff put together.
"Right now I’m in that area where I’m not sure how (his body) is going to respond. I mean, I want to play in every game. At the same time you have to listen to your body and we have a very capable backup here."
John Tortorella's opinion on the matter:
"I cut back Lundqvist a lot," he answered. "It took a couple of years for him to understand (why). He wanted to play so many games, but, by the playoffs, he was out in the first round."
As for Luongo, Tortorella said: "I know Roberto is going to be the No. 1 guy. I’m not sure where we are with the our backup."
One of the goalies at Camp need to make a statement...and that includes Joe Cannata. But really...Lack is the one with the one-way contract, while Eriksson and Cannata are signed to entry level deals. So here is how it shapes up:
Lack should be backing Luongo this season. However, if Luongo plays a mass amount of games this season (65+), what the hell good is that for Lack's development? Are the Canucks better off to sign a more experienced goaltender with their +$2 million remaining in cap space? Well, check out NHL.com's list of remaining free agents to aid your opinion, (hello Henrik Karlsson!)
Personally, I want Eddie Lack to take the backup spot, and to play more than 15 games. I think that under John Tortorella the Canucks will be far better defensively which...by god...will be a breath of fresh air. If the team tightens up defensively...well hell....then I could play in goal for these guys. OK, I exaggerate.
But let me end with this:
Vancouver MSM....shut the F*** up about Tortorella already. I don't care about his Twitter rants or if the players are heeding his advice, etc etc etc etc....
Stick with the damned program. Report on the team at Camp. How's Niklas Jensen looking? Bo Horvat? Hunter Shinkaruk? The goalies that I have mentioned? Sure, you goofs are gonna get your hits from Torts this year...we all know that. How about reporting more diligently on the team FFS?