The Vancouver Canucks saw Jacob Markstrom and Joacim Eriksson split the bulk of the netminding duties in their AHL system last season, leaving prospect Joe Cannata as the odd man out.
Now, though, Eriksson has confirmed that he’s inked a deal with the KHL Dinamo Riga next season — which clears up a few rumors around the NHL, KHL, and in Vancouver’s prospect system. He leaves Utica following a forty-one game season that saw him post a .908 SV% and record a 22-10-7 record.
For the KHL, Eriksson can now be crossed off the ever-shortening list of names that could be headed to the Kazan Ak-Bars to replace Anders Nilsson, who reportedly doesn’t want to re-sign with the club and has left the team without a starter. The DEL’s top netminder has also come to North America for the upcoming season, and although the originally suggested top candidate had been Jussi Rynnas (who reportedly inked a deal with the KHL club earlier this month), it’s also possible that they’ll still struggle for depth.
In the NHL, this is also an interesting move for the Canucks, though.
It had initially seemed likely that Eriksson would compete for starts with Joe Cannata next season, as it seems imminent that either Eddie Lack or Jacob Markstrom are on their way to another NHL club. With Eriksson gone, though, the Canucks would be left with a depleted AHL depth chart — which could mean that Cannata has been given the green light as the bona fide AHL number one, and that a more tenured AHL lifer could be on his way to Utica. It’s unlikely that the Canucks will put Thatcher Demko in the AHL just yet (especially as the American-born goaltender has given no indication he’s leaving Boston College early to do this) so short of pulling another goalie from overseas, having a veteran join the ranks might be how the Canucks address the hole left in their depth chart. The assumption should, of course, be that this is what needs to get fixed — not that Markstrom will simply stay in the AHL system longer.
One name that may be on Vancouver’s radar, though, is final year draft-eligible Lucas Peressini. Named the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year for his impressive poise behind a less-than-perfect Kingston club, Peressini is ranked in the top 30 North American netminders heading into Friday and may be a late round target for the Canucks.