Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Can Dustin Tokarski clear waivers if sent down to the Bulldogs?

The hosts of Vancouver TSN 1040 had Bob McKenzie on and discussed the three-goalie situation in Vancouver.  I still don't quite agree with their decision to sign Ryan Miller to such a long deal, I don't think there could have been lots of competition for his services, since he admitted he wanted to sign with a West Coast team and shortlisted himself out of an entire conference and a division, and since he didn't have that great a stint in St-Louis anyway.

So now the Canucks have him wrapped up for three years, along with goalie-of-the-future Eddie Lack, who did well when Roberto Luongo was traded, and who is very popular with his teammates.  They also have Jacob Markstrom, who was thought to be a future superstar but whose development has stalled, who came from the Panthers in the Roberto Luongo trade.

The Canucks are discussing whether to start the season with three goalies on the roster, since neither Eddie Lack or Jacob Markstrom can be sent down to their farm team in Utica without first going through waivers.  And it's accepted as fact that either of these youngsters would be claimed by many teams if on waivers.

Jacob Markstrom has apparently worked very hard with goalie coach Rollie Melanson, and has changed his game and style greatly.  'Rollie the Goalie Coach' has had success with this in the past, changing Roberto Luongo's style from a flailing, athletic style to a more controlled blocking-the-angles style.

They don't see him as a failed prospect.  They think he'll pan out.  He has great size and athleticism, and with the quirks worked out of his game could be a good starting goaltender.

So they don't want to risk squeaking him through waivers, even though he's on a one-way deal and a high salary.  There's even some thought that maybe they'll try to trade Eddie Lack, who has proven more in the NHL and may have greater trade value as a solid young goalie, and keep Jacob Markstrom as Ryan Miller's backup.

All of this is comparable to the Canadiens' 'good problem' of currently having three goalies who can play at the NHL level.  Bob McKenzie referred to it when discussing the Canucks situation too.  And he made the point we've made as Habs fans, which is that there is a glut of goalies on the market now, that the average to mediocre goalie is much closer in performance to the stars than he was a decade or two ago.  A backup goalie isn't hard to find.

He pointed to veterans like Martin Brodeur and Thomas Vokoun who still don't have a contract as further evidence of the depressed goalie market, and how unlikely it is that the Canucks will get anything of value in return for one of their youngsters.

Which brings me to ask the question again: if we put Dustin Tokarski on waivers, are we sure that he'll get claimed?  He's a quality prospect, and has had some good streaks and performances in the past, but he's not the type of player who makes hockey men drool.  His small size is in complete opposition to the current trend in the NHL to have a big goalie with big pads in front of your net to block out any openings.

If the Canucks put Jacob Markstrom on waivers, then we're home free with Dustin Tokarski, right?

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