Vancouver Canucks Trade Partners for Thatcher Demko

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The Vancouver Canucks will eventually have to decide whether to sign starting goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom or let him go into free will (UFA). The move will have a huge impact on the future of saving Thatcher Demko recruits. If Markstrom is retained on a long-term deal, it means that Demko is destined to be a backup for the foreseeable future. As a young goalkeeper hoping for a number one job someday, he may not like this scenario.

Thatcher Demko Vancouver Canucks
Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

So, in the event that Markstrom is signed for this type of contract, Demko can be placed on the trading block. If that happens, a number of teams may be interested in the 24-year-old California native.

Related: 5 Best NHL Backups

Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators are a team with many strengths and young players that could interest the Canucks. They also need goalies because Craig Anderson is a UFA this offseason and Magnus Hogberg is not yet an NHL goalkeeper. Anders Nilsson is still on contract, but he’s also on the older side and still hasn’t proven himself to be a regular starter.

It’s pretty much certain that Anderson won’t be back with the Senators as they are a few years away from being a rival team again. At 38, he certainly won’t want to stay for that. Hogberg is the future right now, but he’s getting to the point where he has to start establishing himself as number one. Finally, Nilsson is entering a contract year and at 30, he will likely become no more than a replacement or occasional starter in the NHL.

General manager Jim Benning has a history with Senators general manager Pierre Dorion, who has had two exchanges with him in recent seasons. Once with Alex Burrows and then with Anders Nilsson, the relationship is definitely strong between the two executives. Could they become partners again?

Pierre Dorion Ottawa Senators
Pierre Dorion, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Senators have a lot of picks in this year’s draft, currently with two first round picks (three if the New York Islanders do not win the lottery) and four second round picks. They also have a large pool of prospects to tap, so the assets are certainly there to potentially improve their goal. Could Demko be the goalkeeper to grow with the Senators’ current young core?

Detroit Red Wings

After making the playoffs 25 consecutive seasons, the Detroit Red Wings are now in a drought that has hit four seasons. The once perennial plant has become an inhabitant of the basement. So general manager Steve Yzerman will certainly be looking to improve his team during the off season, and the goalkeeper has been a concern.

Longtime starter Jimmy Howard had an injury-ridden campaign and never seemed comfortable in the net, finishing with an average of 4.20 goals against average (GAA) and save percentage 0.882 (SV%). He also only won two games in 27 appearances. He’s a UFA this off-season, so he’s probably coming out of Motor City.

Howard’s replacement Jonathan Bernier, who has mostly been a starter this season, has not fared much better. He finished the shortened season with 15 wins with a GAA of 2.95 and an SV of 0.907 in 47 appearances. At 31, he is not the answer to their problems either. He currently has one more season on a three-year contract which he signed in 2018, so he will most likely be his replacement next season, especially if Yzerman is actually improving his goalkeeper.

Detroit Red Wings Jonathan Bernier Jimmy Howard
The Red Wings duo of Jonathan Bernier and Jimmy Howard weren’t strong in 2019-20 (AP Photo / Paul Sancya)

As for their pipeline, it is not very deep with Calvin Pickard, 28, signed during the 2021-2022 season and the best hope Filip Larsson is still not developed enough to be entrusted with the starting reins. Demko might end up being the answer to their crease puzzle. The Red Wings don’t have the same treasure of first-round picks as the Senators, but they have three second-round caps to trade with.

San Jose sharks

Yes, Martin Jones is still signed for another four seasons at $ 5.75 million, but given his performances in the last two seasons for the San Jose Sharks, general manager Doug Wilson must start thinking of replacing his longtime guardian. Aaron Dell has done adequate work as a backup, but it is certainly not the future.

If the Sharks hope to return to the playoffs, the goalie must be better. They still have firepower with Logan Couture, Timo Meier and Evander Kane, as well as a formidable defense core with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson at the head of the blue line. It’s the goalie who dropped them recently, so Demko might be just what they need to get them back on track.

Unfortunately, the Canucks could shoot themselves in the foot by swapping it within the division. If he becomes a star goalkeeper for them and Markstrom doesn’t stay in his 2019-2020 form, they’ll ruin the day they trade him.

Martin Jones Sharks of San Jose
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

As for what the Sharks could offer the Canucks, they currently have a first-round pick, two second-round picks and some perspectives to offer. The two GMs have also made a deal in the past, most recently involving Nikolay Goldobin and Jannik Hansen, so a positive relationship has already been established.

Minnesota Wild

Devan Dubnyk has been a revelation for the Minnesota Wild since coming to town in the 2014-15 season. However, his time seems to be running out as he is now 33 and has only one season left on his current contract. GM Bill Guerin has to start looking into the future, and Demko could be that future.

The Wild could potentially have two first round picks to offer, but I think the Canucks should consider Matt Dumba as a possible return here. Unfortunately, its cap is quite high at $ 6 million for the next three seasons, which would add even more strands to Benning’s already tangled web. However, the addition of Dumba would make the Canucks ’defense core pretty formidable, and if it is made available, as rumored by the trade deadline, it would be worth exploring.

Final thoughts

The Canucks arrive at a crossroads with their goalie. Markstrom has had an exceptional season and Demko seems ready to take the reins. Unless Benning does some acrobatics, they can only keep one for the foreseeable future. The Seattle expansion project also throws an additional key into an already complicated offseason. If they decide to keep Markstrom, Demko may be available.

Vancouver Canucks Thatcher Demko
Vancouver Canucks goalkeeper Thatcher Demko (CANADIAN PRESS / Ben Nelms)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they should trade Demko. Although I also don’t think they should give up on Markstrom’s re-signing, especially after the breakout season he has had. However, if they re-sign it for a long-term deal, the Canucks must think about the possibility of a potential goalkeeper controversy. If Demko becomes agitated and finally requests an exchange, the situation could become ugly. That’s why the Canucks have to go out there and trade it before it becomes a reality.

Of all the suggested teams, the Senators or the Red Wings have the most advantages, especially when it comes to the draft picks. The 2020 NHL Entry Draft has a lot of top talent in the first two rounds, and the Canucks have no choice until the third round unless they finally miss the playoffs this season. Ultimately, they must find a way to return at least in the second round. If Demko is traded, choices must be involved, period.


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