Battle Between the Pipes in Vancouver

Ryan Miller

It’s fair to say that the Vancouver Canucks will be labeled as a team still within the “rebuilding phase” again this season. One interesting factor surrounding this team this season will be the battle between the pipes involving veteran, starting goalie Ryan Miller and backup Jacob Markstrom. This battle won’t be as obvious as it was back in 2009-2012 between Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider but it does have similarities.

Tale of two Goalies:

The Vancouver Canucks dug themselves into a deep hole when they signed Roberto Luongo to a 12 year, 64 million dollar deal back in 2009. This gave the Canucks some very good goaltending but made Luongo very difficult to move. However, it also led to weeks and weeks of debate on who should start for Vancouver. Although it seemed that Luongo and Schneider were content with the amount of ice time they were getting, it quickly became clear that this scenario couldn’t last forever. So Vancouver Canuck’s fans gave in to the reality that one of these guys was going to go. However, shortly after Luongo was finally traded Corey Schneider was dealt to New Jersey in exchange for Bo Horvat, a deal that has still baffled many Canucks fans.

Canucks GM Jim Benning was forced to move quickly to find a replacement and snapped up Ryan Miller. Miller signed a three year, 18 million dollar contract. So, the scenario is the same, a veteran goalie comes in, signs a sizable contract and the promising rookie is forced to wait his turn. Unfortunately, for Miller things got off to a rough start. Ryan Miller ended last season with a record of 17-24-9 and a .916 save percentage. These are numbers Canucks fans certainly aren’t used when coming out of the Roberto Luongo era. And now with 26 year old Jacob Markstrom on the rise, Miller may be on his way out. Markstrom had a shaky season last year, posting a record of 13-14-4 and a .988 save percentage. However, these are decent numbers for a backup goalie. This year he is sure to improve on that record. Jacob Markstrom is coming out of a very positive World Cup of Hockey with Team Sweden. Markstrom was the star in Sweden’s 2-1 victory against the Russians, stopping 27 shots and ending the game with a .964 save percentage.

Jacob Markstrom is slated to face the Arizona Coyotes in a preseason game on October 4th.  With this impressive resume, it’s difficult to say who will start for the Vancouver Canucks at the beginning of the season. But what is certain is that both these goalies are determined to win and compete for the number one spot. And so the debate on who will start for Vancouver can begin again. However, at least in this  recent goaltending saga, the veteran goalie is much easier to trade away.