Goalie Eddie Lack takes part in an informal practice of Vancouver Canucks and other NHL players at UBC in Vancouver in September 2012.
Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG files
VANCOUVER - Eddie Lack's hip surgery could alter the Vancouver Canucks' goaltending plans for next season, but should not affect the potential trade of Roberto Luongo.
Lack, who hasn't played for Vancouver's AHL affiliate in Chicago since Nov. 24, had hip surgery Tuesday in Vale, Colo., and is gone for the season. The Canucks put his recovery time at up to six months and would not provide any specific details on what type of surgery Lack underwent.
The 25-year-old Swede, who was coming off two solid seasons of work in the AHL, signed a two-year deal with the Canucks this past summer. He's on a two-way contract this season, but is guaranteed a NHL salary of $750,000 next season.
That contract was a reflection of Canuck management's belief that after another year of seasoning in the minors Lack would be ready to be Vancouver's No. 2 goalie for the 2013-14 season.
But Lack appeared in only 13 games this season and did not play particularly well before going down with what was initially called a groin injury in late November. Lack had a 3.00 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage this season. Those numbers pale in comparison to the 2.31 GAA and .925 save percentage he posted last season with the Wolves.
Meanwhile, Eddie Lack tweeted Tuesday:
Eddie Lack @eddielack
My surgery went very well and I'm focused doing whatever I can to get back quickly! Thanks for all ur thoughts! // stork #GoCanucksGo
It may be unrealistic to assume that Lack, coming off surgery and 10 months without any game action, will be ready to begin next season in Vancouver. Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman does not agree with that assessment.
"All I would say is the projected rehabilitation period is to a maximum of six months," Gilman said. "It doesn't mean he won't be ahead of schedule. There's a lot of time between now and when next season commences and we'll have to see how things evolve."
Lack's injury should not affect a potential Luongo trade. Even when healthy, Lack was not in Vancouver's plans for this season.
But any potential Luongo trade would likely include a goalie or Vancouver would have to scour the free agent market for one. And whatever goalie the Canucks come up with might have to be here for the rest of this season and possibly next, depending on how Lack rebounds from surgery.
Gilman said the team and Lack initially felt that some rest and treatment would be all that was required for what most recently was described as a hip pointer.
"We thought and he thought his injury would heal through rehabilitation," Gilman said. "Clearly as time moved on it appeared that it wasn't progressing to the level that we had hoped. Subsequently, surgical intervention was necessary."
Lack's Denver-based agent, Kurt Overhardt, would not comment on Lack's surgery, but expressed confidence his client will be ready to compete for a job in Vancouver next fall.
With Lack gone for the season, the Canucks will likely attempt to sign another minor-league goalie. Rookie Joe Cannata, who has played well in Chicago filling in for Lack and Matt Climie, is only other goalie the Canucks currently have under contract.
Cannata, who started the season with Kalamazoo in the ECHL, has a sparkling 1.70 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in five games with the Wolves this season.
"Joe has played very well," Gilman said. "He's still a young goaltender, he is evolving, but we have been very happy with his performance thus far."
Cannata, 23, was Vancouver's sixth-round pick in the 2009 draft and had a stellar career at Merrimack College in Massachusetts before turning pro late last season.
Climie, who is just now returning from injury, is not currently signed to a NHL deal.
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