It wasn’t just Eddie Lack’s solid start to his first National Hockey League season that persuaded the Vancouver Canucks to sign him to a two-year contract extension.
There was also the fact that Lack would have become a Group 6 unrestricted free agent next summer if had he not played a total of 28 NHL games this season.
The Canucks did not want to gamble and potentially lose Lack next summer and Lack wanted to stay. It didn’t take assistant general manager Laurence Gilman and Lack’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, long to strike a deal.
Lack’s two-year deal will pay him $1 million next season and $1.3 million in 2015-16. The deal carries an annual salary cap hit of $1.15 million. Lack is making $750,000 this year.
The contract was signed after Thursday night’s game and announced by the Canucks on Friday.
Lack, who is always smiling, had an even wider grin than normal on Friday.
“I know I have a lot of hard work in front of me to stay in his league and keep performing at a high level, but I am really happy with the contract and really comfortable with (goalie coach) Rollie Melanson and the rest of the coaches and all my teammates,” Lack said in an interview. “I am just happy to stay here.”
The Canucks are happy to have him.
“We have been impressed with Eddie from the moment that he entered our organization,” Gilman said. “Unfortunately, he sustained an injury that caused him to have his hip repaired. We were confident after he rehabilitated that he would prove that he could play in the National Hockey League. While his body of work is not that long we are extremely confident that he is going to be able to play and contribute to our team and we are happy to have him signed for two more years.”
Lack has started four games for the Canucks this season and appeared in relief of Roberto Luongo in one other game. He has a record of 2-2 with a 2.41 goals-against average and a save percentage of .911.
Lack said the opportunity to continue working alongside Luongo is huge for him.
“For me personally, I feel like I am learning from him every day,” Lack said. “Not just from watching him, but I can talk to him about a lot of stuff, too. He gives me some pointers and that is really helping me.”
“It wasn’t lost on Eddie and his representative that to have the ability to play with and learn from Roberto Luongo and Rollie Melanson will further his career,” Gilman added.
Lack also cited the first-class treatment he has received from the Canucks as an important reason for agreeing to an extension.
“I’m just really happy here and I really appreciated what the Canucks did for me when I had the hip surgery and everything,” Lack said. “I felt like they had my back all the time and were there for me. That was a big part of it, too.”
Lack’s contract is identical to one recently signed by fellow goalie Frederik Andersen in Anaheim. Other comparables include Jhonas Enroth (Buffalo) at $1.25 million and Jacob Markstrom (Florida) at $1.2 million.
DAY OF REST: Lack and the rest of the Canucks got the day off Friday and will practise on Saturday before playing the Dallas Stars in a 5 p.m. start on Sunday at Rogers Arena.
Saturday’s practice figures to concentrate on offence, something the Canucks have struggled with in recent games. They have scored just one goal in each of their last three games, which have all been losses.
Gilman remains confident that the goals will come.
“Our team has competed very well over the last couple of weeks,” Gilman said. “Particularly, the last three games we have deserved a better fate and we have had chances and have just not been able to capitalize on them. I am not concerned over the long haul because during an 82-game schedule if you are out-performing and out-working an opponent you will capitalize on your opportunities, eventually score goals and eventually win.”
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