It has been an interesting seven months for goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
In July he reportedly asked for a trade out of Vancouver following the signing of Ryan Miller. The Canucks agreed they would explore that option.
Markstrom was placed on waivers and cleared in September eventually joining the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets in October. Canucks’ goaltending consultant Dan Cloutier admitted on Saturday that he wasn’t sure what state of mind the goaltender would be in joining the AHL club.
“I didn’t know what to expect when he first came down. It’s always hard for a guy to come down. A guy that got traded (to Vancouver) last year and it was kind of in the plans, but that’s the game of hockey,” Cloutier told PHT. “New management came in and all of a sudden he’s waking up in Utica. I have to give him a lot of credit. He’s been working extremely hard, he’s been a good teammate and he’s done everything I could’ve asked.
“I’ve been there before so I know what he’s going through. It’s not easy, but he’s definitely been a very positive influence on the guys.
Markstrom registered career numbers through the first half of the AHL season, was named the AHL All-Star Game’s co-MVP and according to reports last week is no longer a piece Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning is looking to deal.
Markstrom is 12-5-2 with a 1.98 G.A.A. and a .930 save percentage in 19 games this season.
“It started good and then it’s like the whole team for a goalie. If the team is doing good, the goalie is doing good too,” Markstrom said of his season. “These guys have been making life easy for me. The All-Star Game was an unreal experience especially being in Utica too the fans were great. It was fun.”
A lot of his success this season has to do with the help he received from Canucks’ goaltending coach, Roland Melanson.
“He was a guy that was a little bit out of control,” said Cloutier. “(Working with Melanson) settled him down and now that I get a chance to work with him, now that he’s got that technical base, I just want to make sure he doesn’t lose his athleticism.
“He was playing, sometimes, a little bit out of the blue. I think for a big guy like him, we wanted him to utilize his size more because he does have athleticism and he does have power.”
Markstrom admitted the adjustment took some getting used to.
“It was weird in the beginning, but right now I don’t even think about it. If you do enough reps in practice, it’s going to feel comfortable,” he said. “Different angles, everything is going to be at a different angle. Obviously you give yourself a chance on every rebound if you’re a little deeper in the net.
“My game right now, I like it and I feel comfortable with it.”
The 25-year-old is scheduled to become a restricted free agent following this season. As of right now, it appears Markstrom’s play has kept him in the Canucks’ future plans.