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Weekly Thoughts: A Storybook Ending, Leveraging Cap Space, Markstrom’s Resurgence

Storybook Ending As Sedins’ Say Goodbye

I wasn’t planning on directly addressing the Sedins’ retirement since more than enough has already been said on the topic, but last night’s game changed everything.

The Sedins’ final home game against the Coyotes was a wild mix of vintage Sedinery, tears, NHL records, and magical coincidences.

It all began with the first goal that the Canucks’ scored in the second period to tie the game.

A sweet deke by Henrik sparked a tic tac toe play that finished with Daniel registering his 22nd goal of the season 33 seconds into the 2nd period. If only the coincidences ended there.

Goals from Brendan Leipsic and Jake Virtanen forced the game to overtime to set the stage for more Sedinery in overtime, and boy did they deliver.

Daniel set an NHL record by becoming the first player in NHL history to register 10 power play overtime goals in the regular season and moving to third all-time in OT winners. Henrik, meanwhile, took the all-time NHL lead for overtime assists.

All done 2:33 into the extra frame.

Not enough statistical coincidences for you? How about the final face-off battles ending 33-22 in favour of the Canucks?

This type of perfection couldn’t be scripted in a movie.


Leveraging Cap Space

As we say goodbye to the Sedins, we look forward to the future. The Canucks enter the offseason with an additional 14 million dollars in cap space; either a positive or a negative depending on your faith in Jim Benning.

With Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter entering the 2018/19 season as the team’s only legitimate top-9 centres, the Canucks are going to be searching for a middle-six centre. It’s funny because that’s exactly the type of player Jared McCann has turned into for the Florida Panthers

McCann, as you may recall, was dealt along with a 33rd overall pick for Erik Gudbranson. While the latter disappointed in his second consecutive season, the 21-year-old McCann has registered 25 points in 66 games—- a 31 point prorated scoring pace over 82 games.

It’s unfortunate because the Canucks will now have to turn to external sources to fill the void of Henrik Sedin. As I speculated in last week’s piece, one player the team targets could be Tyler Bozak.

The Canucks are left in a precarious position where they have significant holes to fill, yet few sensible options readily available. Management’s precedent indicates that they’re inept at creatively making deals, though there are a couple of ideas already being thrown around.

This move would kill two birds with one stone as it would provide the Canucks with a top-9 option up the middle, whilst also giving them the opportunity to acquire future assets for taking on Spezza’s contract.

Dallas also has a carrot to dangle in the form of 2014 1st round pick Julius Honka. The 22-year-old right shot defenceman has fallen out of favour with Ken Hitchcock; averaging little over 13 minutes per game. Despite that, Honka possesses impressive underlying metrics and an offensive toolkit that could shine if given a fair opportunity.

Another option for leveraging cap space would be taking on Brooks Orpik’s contract from the Washington Capitals. Orpik has just one season left after this one at 5.5 million dollars, but the Caps are facing a major cap crunch with Norris trophy contender John Carlson looking to cash in as a pending UFA.

The 37-year-old Orpik wouldn’t provide much use for the Canucks given their logjam on the left side, but they could certainly benefit from picks and/or prospects that Washington could be willing to give up.

Markstrom’s Resurgence

Jacob Markstrom’s aggregate data for the season appears mediocre in almost every way you look at it. His goals-against average(2.70) and save percentage(.912) both rank in the late 20s among goalies with at least 25 starts this season.

Meanwhile, Corsica’s goals saved above average(GSAA) metric tells us that Markstrom is 31st among goalies in allowing 2.15 more goals over the season compared to a league average netminder.

Markstrom has been inconsistent throughout the season, but he’s appeared to have finally settled down to consistently turn in quality starts.

Markstrom ranks 13th and 16th for save percentage and goals-against average respectively since December 23rd. It’s an impressive feat considering the porous Canucks’ blueline in front of the 28-year-old Swede.

The former 2nd round pick will likely never become an upper-echelon starter, but his extended run of solid play suggests that he can hold down the fort as the de facto number one goalie until Thatcher Demko is ready.

Jasek’s Emergence

Canucks’ management was able to find a diamond in the rough in 2015 5th round pick Adam Gaudette and it appears they may have unearthed yet another in the next round with 20-year-old Lukas Jasek.

The pick was lauded at the time from a value perspective, but Jasek fell off the radar since being drafted as he bounced around various Czech leagues. Many were intrigued to hear this week then that Jasek would be joining the Utica Comets on an ATO— which has since been promoted to a paying PTO.

A big part of that has been Jasek’s impressive production, with the speedy winger notching a goal and four assists in two games since joining the Comets. Jasek is still ELC eligible so look for the Canucks to ink him in the offseason if he fares well down the stretch and through the playoffs.