One of the more talked-about free agent negotiations this season has been between the Vancouver Canucks and starting goalie Jacob Markstrom, who has been stellar in net this season. Markstrom had a career-best season this year, recording a .918 save percentage and 2.75 GAA. As he heads toward free agency, the Canucks have prioritized keeping him in Vancouver if at all possible. The two sides have been talking throughout the league pause and GM Jim Benning even noted that they spoke again on Tuesday. However, Benning told NHL.com that all negotiations will be put on hold until after the playoffs. “We’re going to get something figured out for him,” Benning said with confidence, but added “We both decided let’s just wait until after the playoffs are done.” How long that postseason run might last remains to be seen. The No. 7 seed out West, the Canucks are set to face the No. 10-seed Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round next week. If they emerge victorious, talks with Markstrom will stay on the back burner for a while longer, but if the Canucks fall to the Wild, they could approach talks very soon. Perhaps they will even be armed with the No. 1 overall pick to help make their case for a long-term extension.
- As the John Chayka saga continues to unravel, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post has confirmed previous reports that Chayka was interested in a move from the Arizona Coyotes to the New Jersey Devils. It doesn’t end there though. Kussoy writes that Chayka lied to ‘Yotes ownership about having an interview with the Devils ownership, who also own the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and are a suitor for the MLB’s New York Mets. While this was not a GM position with the Devils, which Arizona had previously denied another NHL team from interviewing Chayka for, he was nevertheless deceptive about his intentions. According to Kussoy, this left his relationship with owner Alex Meruelo “irrevocably damaged” and led to the swift separation between the two sides.
- Over in the college game, the Hockey East Conference offered some hope for NCAA fans yesterday. The historic hockey conference announced their intention to have a 2020-21 season for both men and women. Due to the convenient geography of the New England-based conference, teams will play conference-heavy schedules that will limit travel and, as a result, potential COVID-19 exposure. As many of their member institutions have seen their primary athletic conferences cancel or postpone fall sports, while other hockey schools – like those Ivy League members of the ECAC – have had all fall competition canceled, Hockey East hopes to start in the fall. They have yet to announce schedules and may delay the start of the season and play a shortened campaign, but college hockey seems to be returning next season after the Coronavirus pandemic ended the season in the midst of conference tournaments and before an NCAA champion could be crowned. The hope is that other conferences can also find a way to follow in the footsteps of Hockey East.