The NHL draft is this week, and there are are bound to be some eye-popping things happening either before or during the proceedings. Some teams have extra picks to use as leverage, and other teams have position logjams that make the draft an ideal place to make a trade that also replenishes their system. The Islanders would be happy just to get one of the first 71 picks.
In the wake of speculation about which teams are willing to do what, you have Cam Talbot, the young and capable Lundqvist backup with 59 games of NHL experience and one more year left on his current deal. Wes already covered the likelihood of the Stars landing Talbot in a trade, and it sounds like the Stars definitely have interest, but there's another netminder out there who might work out if Talbot doesn't, and his name is Eddie Läck.
(Note: I will henceforth omit the umlaut because my keyboard doesn't have it, and alt codes are illegal in America.)
Eddie Lack has 86 games under his belt, and his $1.15 million cap hit is slightly cheaper than Talbot's if you're concerned about cap space. He also only has one year remaining on his deal, but his save percentages are slightly worse than Talbot's. One might ascribe that difference solely to the Canucks' penchant for weirdly valuing defensemen like Luca Sbisa, but if we could boil down goalie performances to just one cause, someone surely would have come to the Stars' aid early last season.
Here's an overview of Lehtonen's 2015 vs. Talbot and Lack's career numbers, just for context. (All numbers via War on Ice)
Reminder: Kari Lehtonen should be better next year. (For a fun summer activity, keep chanting this once a week while defacing a Wing voodoo doll.)
The main difference between Lack and Talbot is found, as with so many goalies, in the high-danger area. (The SV%L, M and H show a goalie's save percentages on low, medium and high-danger shots respectively.) Talbot had a very respectable save percentage on the most dangerous of shots, while Lack was fairly humdrum when it came to coming up with highlight-reel saves. Goalies are all warlocks though, and even thinking about evaluating them based on fewer than 100 games is a sketchy proposition at best.
In any case, Jim Nill is surely salivating over the prospect of getting a somewhat proven, young-ish goalie who can actually push Lehtonen, and Talbot or Lack are even more perfect fits for the fact that neither of them is reliant on being the number one in order to feel comfortable. Both goalies are looking toward July 1st, 2016, and a stellar year going into free agency would be the best possible thing for their fortunes (both figurative and literal). There will be motivation there.
The bottom line is that Lack has been a good-enough goalie in Vancouver, but the Ryan Miller deal will likely prevent them from negotiating a deal with Lack beyond this season. It sure looks like the Canucks have little choice but to recoup some value for Lack before losing him next summer, and while Jacob Markstrom hasn't exactly gotten monogrammed goalie pads with "heir apparent" stitched on the side, he's a lot cheaper bet to help them in three years (when they may be good again) than Lack will be.
Complicating a potential deal is the fact that Vancouver doesn't have a draft pick in the 2nd or 3rd round, a fact much highlighted by GM Jim Benning's recent comments implying that the team would trade Lack for a second-round pick.
Dallas, as you know, only has one second rounder and no third thanks to the Erik Cole trade, which means that the Stars would likely need to acquire picks elsewhere before (or directly after) consummating such a trade. The other possibility would obviously be Jim Nill's convincing Vancouver that some ready-made hockey players would be superior to any draft picks, but *WOOP WOOP WOOP* there goes the trade speculation alarm again.
In many ways, Eddie Lack might be an even better option for Dallas than Talbot. Lack has consistently found himself splitting time in his still-young career, but that hasn't stopped him from putting up solid numbers, which is good since the Stars really have no idea how many starts they'll have available next year. Considering the fact that Talbot's name seems to be generating the premium interest (and thus the higher price), the Stars would do well to start courting Vancouver now in order to find a way to get a deal outlined - probably Jim Nill has already done this. Young defensemen are always a valuable commodity, Vancouver. Just sayin'.
Incidentally, Lack would probably benefit from such a trade. He should see his numbers improve in a system that is much stronger in possession than last year's Canucks were, assuming the Stars opt out of the defensive hot potato tactics they tried early last year. It's not as though he would have a choice in any trade though, and in all probability the Stars wouldn't be interested in extending Lack beyond the season anyway.
Would the Stars be able to make an intraconference trade for Lack, though? As the draft approaches, it certainly seems like the Canucks have to do something, and the Stars certainly have pieces (if not picks) to spare for a team looking to rebuild somewhat painlessly. That's the leverage you need to get things done this time of year, and a backup goalie for the Stars is a very big thing indeed.