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23 Intently Staring Goalies

Drafting a Goaltender—when is “no” the right answer?

It’s Draft Day, and there’s some chatter about drafting goalies as either a quick fix to a current goaltending issue, or as insurance against an aging goaltending duo.

Insurance? Always a gamble, but teams need to refresh and develop their goaltending talent. Note “develop”—most goalies aren’t ready fresh out of the box, especially at age 18, so a team will have to wait two to four years before they can get an idea of the finished product. It’s sort of like tasting out of the barrel; you get an idea what the wine’s going to be like, but that Cabernet Sauvignon is also going to be much too raw to be drinkable. And you still may end up with jet fuel down the road.


There’s also the issue of developing young goaltenders. Here’s the magic question:

If you haven’t shown any ability to develop goaltending talent, and you haven’t made any changes in your staff, what makes you think you can develop goaltenders now?

Team who fall under this banner should trade for someone who’s been developed. Some teams are goalie factories, and others are better off being end customers.

Is drafting a goaltender going to fix what’s wrong with your team? If your team is losing 2-1, you might want to to look at a different approach. If your goalie is stopping 40+ shots a night, you might want to look at a different approach. If all your goalies jump ship as soon as they become free agents, you definitely want to take a different approach. Swapping in an infinite supply of 18 year old puck fodder isn’t the fix, and it will never be.

Then there’s picking the right goaltender. Teams can make the decision of building a team around a goaltender, but it’s likely to be easier to start out with a goaltender who has the skills you’re looking for. If your defensemen are halfway down the ice, and not there to pick up rebounds, you probably want a goaltender with some puck-handling skills, and who doesn’t just block the puck. Maybe they’re not the juicy bit the press is oohing and aahing over, but in the long run, they’re a better fit, and will give you a better performance.

With the draft and Free Agency starting on July 1, there’s going to be movement. Whether it’s the right choice? We’ll have to let that barrel age.

Malcolm Subban is considered the top goalie pick in the NHL draft.

From Paul Svoboda at the Belleville Intelligencer:

Another step in the journey. Not a destination.

Belleville Bulls GM-coach George Burnett said the NHL draft is a huge occasion for players who are selected, but it’s simply another rung on the ladder to a potential big-league career.

Three Bulls — goalie Malcolm Subban, and forwards Brendan Gaunce and Danny Zharkov — will take that next step Friday. At the 2012 NHL draft in Pittsburgh, live coverage begins at 7 p.m. on TSN which has all three Belleville players pegged in the top-50: Gaunce, 20th; Subban, 25th; Zharkov, 47th.

“Draft day is a big day and they should enjoy the process,” said Burnett. “But it’s just a start. And what about those kids who aren’t drafted? That’s the big challenge. You can be down and mope around about it or decide to do something about it.

“If you’re not drafted —  and the list is long in our league and our program as well — there are a lot of players who didn’t take no for an answer and now are right where they’d be if they’d been second- or third-round picks.”

That shouldn’t be the case with Subban, Gaunce and Zharkov. Subban and Gaunce are expected to go in the first round; Zharkov could go as high as the second.

Subban and Gaunce, with brothers who’ve already gone through the NHL draft experience — P.K. with Montreal; Cameron with Colorado, respectively — have combined the knowledge gleaned from their brothers with their own talent and desire, to arrive in Pittsburgh, said Burnett.

“Malcolm’s situation is unique in the sense that, obviously, there’s the family history here (P.K. played for the Bulls, and a third brother, Jordan was a rookie in Belleville last season) and that relationship with our program,” said Burnett. “He didn’t start to play in net until peewee, saw an opportunity and ran with it. He was a late pick with us (11th round in 2009) and to go from that to a first-round NHL pick is a pretty special circumstance.

“But the thing about Malcolm is he never took anything for granted. He’s an example we use for all of our young kids coming in. He was an 11th-round OHL pick, not yet ready to play, and now ...

“We tell kids, if you’re drafted late, it’s not the end of the world.”

Bulls benefited from having the goaltender’s older brother, P.K., in Belleville first.

“Naturally, we had a bit of knowledge about Malcolm’s character,” said Burnett. “And, if he took advantage of the fact his brother was in our program, so be it.

“But he’s where he is now because he earned it.”

Subban dealt with two injuries last season, including a nagging groin problem that he says is now completely healed. Next season in Belleville, Subban must prove that’s true, said Burnett.

“The next step for Malcolm is to have a full, healthy, dominant season on a team that will be one of the better teams in the conference — led by his play,” he said.


Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: malcolm+subban, nhl, nhl+draft


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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!