VANCOUVER - The contract the Vancouver Canucks negotiated with goaltender Eddie Lack this past summer indicated the team felt he needed one more year of seasoning in the minors before he was ready for prime time.
So far, Lack is proving them right.
Lack's numbers this season with the Chicago Wolves are rather ordinary and do not come close to matching those he posted in his first two AHL seasons.
Lack's goals-against average is 3.00, which ranks him 32nd among AHL goalies who have played at least 300 minutes this season. His save percentage has dipped to .899. Last season, the 24-year-old Swede posted a 2.31 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. His numbers with the Manitoba Moose two seasons ago were 2.26 and .926.
The Canucks are not overly concerned about Lack's play. He has a winning record of 7-4-1 this season and his statistics could be in part a reflection of the Wolves' inconsistent play as a team. The Wolves, who won their first four games this season, have dropped five of their last six games.
Lack has also been dealing with what Canucks assistant general manager Lorne Henning called a minor hip flexor injury. The team has decided to give Lack a few days rest and on Tuesday recalled Joe Cannata from the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL.
"He has been trying to play through it, but he hasn't been able to get better," Henning said of Lack. "He's going to rest it for a few days."
Henning said Lack has struggled with his consistency this season.
"I have seen him four or five times this season and he has played great and then he's kind of let a soft one in," Henning said. "He just has to get through that. But the team has also kind of been up and down and has had some injuries.
"Overall, Eddie has been good, but he just hasn't been as consistent as last year. But I think he has been playing with the hip flexor and it has been bothering him for sure."
Lack signed a two-year, $1.5-million contract with the Canucks this summer. The first year is a two-way deal that pays Lack $85,000 in the minors and $650,000 at the NHL level. Next season, Lack's $850,000 salary is guaranteed no matter where he plays and the Canucks clearly hope he is ready to be their backup by then.
If the lockout is settled in time for an abbreviated NHL season and Roberto Luongo is indeed traded, the Canucks are expected to sign an experienced NHL backup for Cory Schneider.
Cannata, who is likely to remain with Chicago through the weekend, isn't expected play for the Wolves unless Matt Climie stumbles. The Wolves play host to the Rockford IceHogs tonight, travel to Milwaukee to meet the Admirals on Friday night and then play host to the Peoria Rivermen on Saturday night. The Wolves then don't play again until Dec. 7.
Cannata was Vancouver's sixth-round pick in the 2009 draft. He turned pro last spring after a stellar collegiate career with Merrimack College near Boston and won his only start with the Wolves late last season.
The 22-year-old started the season in Kalamazoo, where he has been the No. 2 goalie behind veteran minor-leaguer Joel Martin.
Cannata, a Hobey Baker Award candidate in his senior season at Merrimack, is 2-3 this season with a goals-against average of 3.62 and a .892 save percentage.
"He has played a little inconsistent," Henning said of Cannata. "He had a concussion so that kind of slowed him down a bit, but now he's back. I think it's part of being a first-year pro. When our guys were down there he had a phenomenal game, but he hasn't been able to put a couple of games together."
ICE CHIPS: Canuck winger Jannik Hansen has been a point-a-game player with Tappara Tampere since joining the Finnish League club earlier this month.
Hansen has three goals and five assists in eight games with Tappara, which sits tied for seventh in the 14-team league. . .Owner Francesco Aquilini, general manager Mike Gillis and chief operating officer Victor de Bonis will all attend what figures to be a pivotal Dec. 5 NHL board of governors meeting in New York.
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