After trading for New York Rangers third-string keeper Marek Mazanec yesterday, the Vancouver Canucks are returning to some semblance of a normal situation in net. The team announced that starter Jacob Markstrom has been cleared to play and will get the start tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. Mazanec will be the backup, and if Markstrom can’t hold up, could make his first NHL appearance since 2016-17 after exclusively playing in the AHL the past two years. As for Michael DiPietro, the young prospect is on his way back to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, as his emergency loan has come to an end. DiPietro allowed seven goals on 24 shots in his NHL debut on Monday, a forgettable performance that he’s unlikely to forget. Meanwhile, the team did not issue an update on backup Thatcher Demko, Vancouver’s other top young goalie, who is currently on the injured reserve with a knee injury. If the Canucks hope to sneak into the playoffs, they’ll likely need both Markstrom and Demko to get healthy for the stretch run.
- As usual, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman provided plenty of insider information in his latest edition of “31 Thoughts”. An encouraging note for Ducks fans, especially during a stretch without much good news in Anaheim, is that Friedman claims term is the only thing separating the team and winger Jakob Silfverberg from agreeing to a contract extension. While that means the two sides are still apart, it was cap hit that was the major roadblock to a new deal. Due to Anaheim’s overall lack of cap space and the restrictions of “tagging”, many speculated that Silfverberg’s desired salary would be too difficult for the Ducks to manage. The fact that term remains “the final hurdle”, as Friedman puts it, would seem to indicate that the dollars have been agreed upon and a the odds of a new contract getting done are better than not.
- Friedman adds a new name to the list of Edmonton Oilers GM candidates. While he maintains that Vegas Golden Knights AGM Kelly McCrimmon and former Toronto Maple Leafs executive Mark Hunter remain popular options, he also adds Boston Bruins AGM John Ferguson Jr. to the mix. Friedman notes that interim GM Keith Gretzky, who appears to have some job insurance moving forward even if it isn’t at his current position, has experience working with Ferguson from his own time with the Bruins. Ferguson is a well-respected NHL executive who previously served as the Toronto Maple Leafs GM from 2003 to 2008 and has been with the Bruins for the better part of this decade. This also isn’t the first time that his name has come up in regards to an opening; Ferguson was considered a candidate to run the Vegas Golden Knights and has already been considered a candidate to do the same with the Seattle expansion team. However, GM jobs don’t come around very often and, like McCrimmon, if Ferguson is offered the Edmonton job, is unlikely to pass in favor of waiting on Seattle.
- One last interesting note comes in regards to the Arizona Coyotes. Friedman points out that the Coyotes are struggling with so many injuries that their AHL affiliate, the Tuscon Roadrunners, could only ice a lineup of 17 skaters last night, playing a man down. CapFriendly’s depth chart shows that only 15 skaters under contract with the ’Yotes, including just nine forwards, are currently in Tuscon, as Arizona needs all the help they can get at the NHL level. Fortunately, Mario Kempe, Brad Richardson, and Christian Dvorak are all getting close to a return, while Michael Grabner and Jason Demers returned to practice today writes The Athletic’s Catherine Silverman. The closer the Coyotes get to full health this season, the better their chances are to push for a playoff spot in the tight Western Conference race.