The biggest news from the Vancouver Canucks on trade deadline day wasn’t a trade.
No, it was the news that goaltender Jacob Markstrom has sustained a knee injury that will sideline him for three to four weeks.
That’s obviously something of a crushing blow to the Canucks’ hopes of making the playoffs, nevermind winning the Pacific Division. Despite big years from Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes, Markstrom has been the team’s most important player this season and had been getting some Vezina Trophy (and even Hart Trophy) consideration of late.
As it is, the burden of shepherding the Canucks to the playoffs will (at least temporarily) rest of the shoulders of 24-year-old rookie Thatcher Demko. The backup goaltender has mostly played well this season and the Canucks are about to find out just how much they can depend on him.
So it is that the team made a trade for an experienced goaltender, ostensibly to give Demko some relief. That would be Louis Domingue, a 27-year-old Phoenix Coyotes veteran who has spent most of this campaign in the AHL but has played in 138 NHL games for the Arizona Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils.
Going the other way is Utica Comets ‘tender Zane MacIntyre, whom the Canucks signed last summer.
Markstrom's injury has a chance to derail the Canucks' season, and this trade isn't going to change that. But still, it’s nice to have some insurance behind Demko in the form of a goaltender that has won games at the NHL level.
Domingue isn’t a flashy, world-class goalie, but he is good enough to give the Canucks some spot starts and keep them in games. Though his recent performance is probably enough to cast a doubtful eye on the deal.
In 16 games with the New Jersey Devils this season, Domingue has posted an .882 save percentage. Granted, the Devils aren’t a good team and Domingue’s .912 save percentage with New Jersey’s AHL team in Binghamton is a little more comforting. As is his .908 save percentage in 26 games with Tampa Bay in 2018-19.
Benning did say that a reason they didn’t pursue a bigger name was that they didn’t want Demko to be “looking over his shoulder.”
That’s a fine sentiment, as you don’t want your young goalie of the future to have confidence issues of any kind. Is it good enough reasoning to actively seek out a lesser option though? Seems a bit shaky.
But if you add in the fact that it didn’t cost them anything other than their own AHL goalie, this is a nice little piece of business for a team that, in the past, has struggled with goaltending depth.
Utica Comets starter Michael DiPietro isn’t ready for prime time yet, and it’s best to keep him developing on the farm. Domingue has filled in decently in the past when called upon, especially on the Lightning.
Yes, Vancouver’s defence has a few more holes right now than those Lightning teams did, but Domingue should be able to provide the Canucks with adequate goaltending if needed.
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