The Dallas Stars have advanced to the Stanley Cup final, knocking off the Vegas Golden Knights 4 games to 1.
I had picked Vegas to win the series, but instantly regretted it. Probably by the 10 minute mark of game one. Something just wasn't right with Vegas. And clearly there is a lot right with Dallas right now.
Dallas will have their hands full with the Tampa Bay Lightning, assuming the Bolts can finish off their series with the New York Islanders in short fashion. They lead 3 games to 1 at the time of this writing. There's no need to prolong that series. Get it done and get some rest.
Markstrom vs Demko
The Vancouver hockey market is never happy unless there is a goaltending controversy. Which goalie will Vancouver ultimately keep? There is a lot at play here and it's complicated, but ultimately it's an enviable position for a team to be in.
Jacob Markstrom is arguably one of the five best goalies in the league in the last season and a half. But he's an unrestricted free agent. And he's 30, and goalies tend not to age too well. And there's the whole flat salary cap thing combined with the Canucks mismanaged contracts of fringe players in the past few years, resulting in paying spare parts way too much money.
The Canucks will have to pay dearly for those mistakes, likely losing a good player or two to alleviate their cap problems. And one easy way would be let Markstrom walk away. That decision is easy only in that Thatcher Demko, a highly rated goalie of the future, had such a fantastic playoff.
Normally it might not be such a big deal. But the Seattle expansion draft is a year away. The Canucks will have to expose one of them to the newly minted Kraken team. There is no way Demko does not get selected. Markstrom could possibly slip through given his age and potentially high contract, but not likely. That's assuming Markstrom doesn't have expansion protection built into his contract beforehand.
So this has some Canucks fans clamoring for Markstrom to leave and Demko to take the reigns. And take the significant cap savings from Markstrom's absence and spend it elsewhere to improve the team. Namely on defense.
The problem as I see it is there is no defenseman immediately available to spend the money on. Not in the free agent market anyway. Tyson Barrie is a possibility, though I'm not sure he's a great fit in Vancouver. They need more of two way stud than an undersized offensive blueliner. The only way to land the need defender is through a trade.
So with that in mind, the best way for the Canucks to win games next year is with Markstrom in net, with Demko as the back up. It will likely be an incredibly truncated schedule with a great need for two goaltenders to share the load.
Signing Markstrom likely means the Canucks will have to trade Demko at some point before the Seattle draft. And there is no better way to get that impact defenseman than to trade Demko at the right time.