This is a weekly feature that will seek to delve into a “take” from someone in the media involving the Vancouver Canucks. Today, we take on the idea that Jacob Markstrom has been the team’s MVP this season.
In the dregs of this Vancouver Canucks season—and it doesn’t get much gloomier than three losses in a row at the end of February/start of March—it can be nice to reflect on the things that have actually worked out for the club.
Through much of this season, the main bright spot was Elias Pettersson. The Canucks rookie has been truly phenomenal and will win the Calder Trophy with ease, even as he’s been mired in something of a scoring slump of late.
It’s not really possible to overstate how much he’s meant to the Vancouver Canucks this season and how much hope he’s provided to a franchise that needed it so desperately.
He’s the best Canucks rookie in the team’s history. But he hasn’t been the club’s most valuable player this year.
That would be goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
This take would have been much, much hotter about a month ago, but at this point, driven home by pundits like The Province’s Ed Willes, the notion is generally taken as fact.
Markstrom has been one of the best goalies in the NHL since December, something no Canucks fan would have predicted after watching his play the last few years.
But since December 1, Markstrom has seemingly kept the Canucks in game night after night.
The stats back that up. Since that date, Markstrom is sixth among goalies in time on ice. He’s 11th in save percentage among tenders with at least 500 minutes played, but he’s third among the same group in terms of high danger save percentage, according to Natural Stat Trick. And, tellingly, the two ‘tenders above him in the metric are backups Juuse Saros and Laurent Brossoit, who have played 16 and 11 games respectively to Markstrom’s 30.
You have to go all the way down to Carey Price at 16 to find a netminder who has played as many or more games during that period as Markstrom.
That’s obviously been massive for a team that’s struggled so much on the defensive side. So yes, Markstrom has made significant progress this year. The popular train of thought has had the Canucks just simply thanking Markstrom for his service and moving on when his contract runs out after next season. But that just won’t be possible if he keeps up his stellar play.
Make no mistake, Markstrom has been the reason the Canucks had any sort of a shot at the playoffs.
Hotness of the take: A lukewarm bath
At this point, it’s generally accepted and hard to deny Markstrom’s brilliance, especially when paired with how bad the Canucks have been overall.