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Canucks Send Down Markstrom to Utica; Sign Edmonton Oil Kings Captain Ashton Sautner

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Markstrom will likely be returning to Vancouver following the Comets back-to-back weekend games. Sautner may suit up with Utica once his junior season is over.

The Vancouver Canucks shuffled their American Hockey League goaltenders around on Friday afternoon following a dispiriting 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings the night before.

Jacob Markstrom was demoted to the Utica Comets after a brief stint with the big club that saw him allow 3 goals on 4 shots in the Canucks 6-2 loss by the hands of the San Jose Sharks in a mere eight minutes on March 3rd. Markstrom was initially recalled back on February 23rd after Ryan Miller sprained his knee the night before against the New York Islanders.

Taking Markstrom's place for the time being will be Joacim Eriksson, whose only NHL appearance to date came in last year's 9-1 drubbing by the Anaheim Ducks; Eriksson allowed 6 goals on 31 shots in thirty-six minutes after relieving Eddie Lack in January of last year.

In 34 games with the Comets this season, the 24-year-old Swede dawns a 17-10-5 record with a 2.61 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. The southpaw has started seven straight games since Markstrom was recalled to Vancouver.

There was some speculation that tomorrow nights match-up against the woeful Toronto Maple Leafs might be a prime opportunity for Markstrom to have a bounce back performance.

Canucks brass remained hush about the demotion on Friday. The logical explanation behind the transactions is that Markstrom is being temporarily sent down  so he can suit up for the Comets back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday and will likely be recalled afterward the weekend as the Comets don't play again for another five days. With Lack seeing the majority of the ice-time since the Miller injury, it made sense from an organizational standpoint to send Markstrom down and get some ice time in the Comets crease especially  if head coach Willie Desjardins continues to ride Lack out for the duration of Miller's injury.

Canucks Sign D-Man Ashton Sautner

20-year old Ashton Sautner -- captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings -- signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 lbs, the 2011 Memorial Cup winning defenceman Sautner has recorded 48 points (12-36-48) in 69 games in his fourth full season in the Western Hockey League. Lautner  possesses a 0.44 points per game rate in 262 career games (24-90-144) with an outstanding, yet, inflated +144 plus/minus rating.

The WHL overeager attended the Arizona Coyotes training camp last year and can report to the Utica Comets once his junior season is concluded.

Sautner s agent -- Jeff Helperl -- confirmed with The Star Phoenix's Daniel Nugent-Bowman on Friday night that the undrafted Edmonton captain signed a deal with Canucks.

"It’s so exciting. I can’t thank my friends and family enough for all of their support over the years. Playing pro hockey was definitely on my mind (coming into this season)," said Sautner in an interview before the Oil Kings played the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday.

The Flaxcombe, Sask bred Sautner comes from a village just east of the Albertan border which holds a population of 117 according to

Sautner had the luxury of playing second pair minutes on a possession dominant  roster behind Griffin Reinhart and Cody Corbett when the Oil Kings won their first Memorial Cup in their seventh year of existence . In 2014-15, the two-way defender has mostly been paired with 2015 draft prospect Dysin Mayo, forming one of the most productive defensive pairings in the WHL with a combined 99 points in 138 games. The Oil Kings 53.94 Fenwick Estimated Close percentage is currently the fourth best in the WHL.

Skip to 0:51 of this feature video below to see a feature on Sautner explaining his "pounding" techniques, his apparent habit of contacting his girlfriend and his allegiance towards the Saskatchewan Roughriders.