Linden defends Lack trade, thinks Canucks will have ‘real good goaltending next year’

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SUNRISE — For a team that wants its “young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment,” the Vancouver Canucks are taking a bit of a gamble when it comes to their goaltending.

After trading Eddie Lack to Carolina, the Canucks intend to go with a tandem of Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom. The former is a 34-year-old who had a modest .911 save percentage last season; the latter is a 25-year-old who’s been great in the AHL but owns an .896 save percentage in 50 NHL appearances.

But team president Trevor Linden is confident that Markstrom, an AHL all-star this past season, is ready to take the next step.

“I think if you look at the history of, whether it be Corey Crawford or Ben Bishop, or these types of players and how they perform at the American Hockey League level, and look at stats and numbers, you can put Jacob in that category,” said Linden. “He’s had an excellent year. He needs to continue to develop at the National Hockey League level, and we’re going to give him that opportunity.”

Linden acknowledged that the decision to trade Lack, a fan favorite who also had a .921 save percentage last season, was going to be an “unpopular” one.

“People may say that a third-round pick — albeit 66th, which is a high third — wasn’t enough, but that’s what the market was. That’s what teams, 29 of them, were willing to do,” said Linden.

“We feel we’re going to have real good goaltending next year, with Ryan and Jacob. [Markstrom’s] a player that’s young and needs some time, and we’re going to give him that.”

The Canucks made another trade today, sending Harvard defenseman Patrick McNally (drafted 115th overall in 2011) to the Sharks for a 2015 seventh-round pick.

With the 66th pick they got for Lack, they drafted 17-year-old Acadie-Bathurst defenseman Guillaume Brisebois.