After an 18-month goaltending drama highlighted by trade demands, parody videos, emotionally charged press conferences and a rowdy, chanting crowd at the Heritage Classic, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis chose to hand his team’s net over to … Eddie Lack?
Somehow the unheralded Swedish prospect finds himself the undisputed No. 1 keeper in Vancouver after a stunning trade on Thursday that sent long-time starter Roberto Luongo to Florida, where, deliciously, he’ll be partnered with 2011 Stanley Cup rival Tim Thomas.
The Canucks also tossed minor league forward Steven Anthony into the package and will receive goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias in return. The Canucks will also pick up 15 percent of Luongo’s tab.
That’s not exactly the sort of bountiful haul that will push Vancouver’s much-needed rebuild forward — Markstrom is 24 and has failed multiple times to seize a job in Florida — but this wasn’t a hockey trade for Gillis. This was about ending a soap opera that had gone on too long, and which had threatened to erupt again after Luongo was benched by coach John Tortorella for last Sunday’s Heritage Classic game.
And it was about moving an unmovable contract that will count $5.333 million against the cap through the 2021-22 season.
In those ways Gillis can call himself a winner. Vancouver can move on with Lack — a respectable young netminder — and some cap space which can be put to other uses moving forward.