Jim Benning is trying to figure out what he’s got in Jacob Markstrom.
The Canucks GM was in Utica this past week to watch Vancouver’s AHL team, the Comets, advance to the Western Conference Finals, in which they’ll take on the Grand Rapids Griffins (featuring Dylan Larkin).
On Wednesday, Benning saw another good AHL outing for Markstrom, who stopped 35 shots in a 1-0 Game 7 shutout win over Oklahoma City. The 25-year-old now has a .930 save percentage in 12 playoff games this year. His save percentage was .934 during the regular season, earning him second-team all-star honors.
But whether Markstrom can succeed in the NHL is still to be determined. He hasn’t so far, with an .896 save percentage in 50 games with the Canucks and Panthers.
“That’s part of why I’m down here now — to get a good look at Jacob Markstrom and see where he fits in,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun. “That’s what I’m trying to figure out right now. He showed me a lot last night, playing a real good game in a high-pressure situation.”
If Benning believes Markstrom is capable of backing up Ryan Miller next season, it likely means that Eddie Lack, one year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent, will be traded.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville “does not anticipate” defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk stepping into the lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, a series Chicago now trails 2-1.
Van Riemsdyk was recalled from AHL Rockford today, as questions continue to be asked about a Chicago blue line that’s been acutely reliant on its top-four defenders.
“He’s been ready. He’s cleared to participate,” said Quenneville of van Riemsdyk. “He was out there doing one-on-one drills. We’ll see.”
To be sure, inserting van Riemsdyk, a rookie, into the lineup would carry a healthy dose of risk. Not yet two months removed from wrist surgery, the 23-year-old has not played an NHL game since Nov. 16.
At the same time, it may be worth the risk, given the struggles of 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen.
“Today is the first day,” said Quenneville. “I don’t anticipate [van Riemsdyk] being in tomorrow. He’ll need a few days out here. We’ll get an evaluation and go from there.”
Update: Here’s TVR, who’s going to “take it day-by-day”:
“It’s been real special, to say the least,” Babcock said, per the Detroit Free Press. “The Ilitches afforded my family to grow up here. To let my kids finish high school here. I’m emotionally involved with the franchise and the city and the people. It gives me great pride for what we were able to accomplish in my 10 years here.”