VANCOUVER — Based on his new contract with the Vancouver Canucks and a looming NHL lockout, netminder Eddie Lack appears headed for another American Hockey League hockey season in Chicago.
The 24-year-old Swede signed a two-year deal Monday with two components: a two-way clause in the first year for $650,000 at the NHL level and $85,000 in the minors, and then a one-way clause in the second year for $850,000.
Canucks assistant general manager Lorne Henning, who oversees the big club’s minor-league assets, disputed the notion Lack is a lock to play for the AHL Wolves.
“I don’t know about that,” Henning said, his comment based on the assumption that Roberto Luongo will be moved along, creating an opening behind Cory Schneider. “Eddie is very capable of surprising you. Nobody really knew who he was two years ago and then he came into camp and was the surprise of camp. Obviously we still have two goalies right now, so it depends on what we’ve got when we start but, no, it’s not written in stone by any means that Eddie will automatically go to Chicago.
“What do we like about him?” continued Henning. “He’s so competitive. He’s a gamer. He’s great under pressure, which is a very good attribute to have.”
Henning did concede that Lack’s development would clearly benefit by a third season in the minors. Schneider spent three years in the AHL and was superbly prepared when his NHL chance came along.
“If at all possible, you’d want him to get that extra year of experience,” Henning said. “It certainly wouldn’t hurt.”
Lack’s agent, Denver-based Kurt Overhardt, indicated by his remarks Monday that he expects his client to start in Chicago even if the NHL labour problems are miraculously resolved in time for a regular start to the season.
“We had great conversations with the club throughout the summer and there are a lot of dynamics that come into play, as you know, with Vancouver’s goalie situation going forward,” Overhardt explained. “So I think, with the way the deal is structured, it gives the club and the player an opportunity to play him in the minors this year for most, if not all, of the year and allows him to play hopefully upwards of 50-plus games, maybe 60 games.
“It will also enable the club to deal with the goaltending situation that they have in the NHL. It’s not going to impede Eddie’s development either. So it’s a positive thing.”
Lack, who is frequent user of twitter, was quick to send a note to his followers after his contract was announced. He had been a restricted free agent.
“Soo happy to sign with Vancouver Canucks for another two years,” he said. “Thanks to everyone involved in the deal. Can’t wait to start the season.”
If players are locked out by the NHL on Sept. 15, Lack will report directly to the Wolves’ AHL training camp Sept. 28. According to Henning, all entry-level players will be eligible to suit up for the Wolves, including Zack Kassian, who finished last season in the NHL.
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