So, the rosters for the World Cup of Hockey were announced Wednesday, including Team Sweden. Henrik Lundqvist was of course named to the roster and will be the starting goalie in September barring any injuries. Vancouver Canucks backup goaltender Jacob Markstrom was also named the preliminary roster. OVER ROBIN LEHNER.
Now I'll be the first to admit, Markstrom has a lot of promise. I personally wanted the Sabres to trade for him to be the starter in Buffalo before Vancouver traded Eddie Lack away. Markstrom was the best goaltender in the AHL last season, he's a former 31st overall pick, and Vancouver wanted him in the Roberto Luongo trade for a reason.
However, another reason I wanted him is he would come cheaper than say a guy like Robin Lehner. Despite Markstrom's promise, he is already 26 years old. If he becomes a great goaltender, he doesn't have more time. Lehner is 24. He's got a head start of two years and is ahead of Markstrom.
Want reasons Lehner should be named over Markstrom? Lehner is two years younger. Lehner is a starter. Markstrom is a backup.
Lehner vs. Markstrom
High Danger Save %
There isn't a legit stat that Markstrom beats Lehner in. Save percentage is the big difference. An average save percentage in the NHL for a starting goaltender is around .915. Lehner just beats that thresold for his career, and this year he's sitting at an elite level .933. Markstrom is well below the thresold.
If you have watched Markstrom and Lehner for a good amount of games this season, there is no way you can arrive at the decision to pick Markstrom. Credit to him, this season has been his best. Markstrom has a .915 save percentage on a pretty weak team in Vancouver. But to compare him to the season Lehner has had and pick him, is a sign of ignorance.
Some could argue Lehner has been hurt all year and we don't have a big enough sample size, but what is your sample size in Markstrom? Being a backup, he has only seen 23 games of action this season. Compare that to Lehner's 16 games and you don't have nearly a large enough difference to susatain that as a legitimate argument.
Either Sweden's management is just plain dumb, or they do not care. The GM for the team is Tommy Boustedt who is based out of Sweden. While he is overseas, the players he should be scouting are in North America. All of them. His background should not even qualify him to pick Team Sweden. Boustedt's background is coaching. From my research he's never held a management role in his life.
If there is a reason Markstrom should have been picked before Lehner, I cannot find/think of it. Now all of this is unlikely to matter. Lehner is in contention to be the third goalie named to the team, but that isn't a lock. He will have to prove to Boustedt that he is better than Jonas Gustavsson. From the perspective of someone who watches the NHL, this is a no brainer.
The question shouldn't be is Lehner going to play well enough to make the team, because it's fair to wonder at this point if Boustedt even watches the games. If Lehner is chosen as the third, he should have no problem showing coaches during training camp that he is a better option than Markstrom, and he will be the backup. He will be the one who relieves Lundqvist for rest, injuries, or play.