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Thatcher Demko or Braden Holtby: The Next Starter in Goal For Canucks

Who will the Vancouver Canucks make their designated starter in goal for next season? Thatcher Demko or Braden Holtby?

After adding veteran goaltender Braden Holtby in free agency and letting Jacob Markstrom walk to the Calgary Flames, is it a foregone conclusion that Holtby will be the new starter for the Vancouver Canucks? After all, the reason the Canucks could afford to let Markstrom walk was because of their belief in their other netminder, Thatcher Demko.

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While Demko came on strong last season and proved he might be the Canucks starter for years to come, Satiar Shah of Sportsnet believes that the starting job in Vancouver is Holtby’s to lose. Given that the team heavily invested in the veteran for two seasons, his new $4.3 million salary per season suggests the Canucks see him as an important piece to their puzzle. But, Shah adds there might be more to it than that.

The scribe points out that the Canucks are keenly aware that while they signed the goalie to a two-year deal, they may not have him for two seasons. The team back-loaded Holtby’s contract meaning they aren’t paying him a ton this coming season and there’s a chance the Seattle Kraken will take him in the expansion draft. If the Canucks actually want the Kraken to take him and are hoping that Demko will be 100% ready for the starting role, showcasing Holtby could become important. So too, if the team is prepared to give him a long-term deal to Demko at the end of the season, they better know what they have.

Thatcher Demko Vancouver Canucks
Thatcher Demko Vancouver Canucks

Not the Easiest Decision for the Canucks

A team already struggling to manage a new flat salary cap, who to rely on in net is going to be a decision worth keeping a close eye on the season progresses in Vancouver. If you give Holtby too many starts, how do you know what Demko is and if you can afford to heavily invest in him long-term? At the same time, if you don’t give Holtby many starts, will the Kraken be inclined to take him at his salary? There will be some good goaltenders available in the expansion draft. Holtby is certainly an option, but it’s not a slam dunk he’s the best option.

All the while, the Canucks can’t really afford to have two expensive goalies. If Holtby isn’t taken in the draft, a bridge deal becomes the only real option for Vancouver when it comes to Demko’s next deal. That may or may not be the right play after Demko posted .985 save percentage in four playoff appearances and showed he could be an absolute steal if you get him locked up early enough.

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