Admittedly I haven’t watched a ton of NHL hockey other than the playoffs and when I catch a game on Versus because I have spent most of my adolescence watching the college game. Now that the Jets are back though, I have a reason to watch more NHL hockey. It just occured to me though that I am not familiar with the team. And I mean at all. Since I spent most of my time watching the playoffs I never saw a Thrashers game. And I can’t remember ever seeing them on national TV.
Instead of jumping into the season blindly, I figured we could meet our boys together. Today, the backstops:
Drafted: 2005 2nd round (41st overall) by Atlanta
Last amateur team: Cape Breton (QMJHL)
2010-11 ES Save%: .928
3 year ES Save%: .917
There is a lot of goalie talent in the NHL right now, and Pavelec sometimes gets overlooked. He shouldn’t though, stopping almost 93% of the shots he faced at even strength last year. And he faced a lot of them: 31 per 60, which was down from the 35 per 60 he faced the year before. Not to mention he did it behind a pretty poor defensive corps. Will his numbers decline? probably. But he’s young enough and talented enough to develop into one of the best net minders in the league.
Drafted: 1995 5th round (122nd overall) by New Jersey
Last Amateur Team: Prince George (WHL)
2010-11 ES Save%: .901
3 year ES Save%: .917
The large gap between his performance last year and the previous two leads me in one of two directions: either he is due for some regression (the good kind) or he is in permanent decline and on his way out. Likely he was hurt more by playing behind our d-men than Pavelec was, and at 1.85 million he doesn’t kill the team salary wise (especially with all of our cap room). Still, as this is the last year of his deal it’s also likely his last in Winnipeg.
Going by Hockey’s Future, our best goalie prospects are:
Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel: a 5th rounder in 2010 who is currently playing in the Swedish Elite League. He represented Sweden in the most recent WJC, but had just a .895 save percentage in the three games he played. Players who play in the WJC have a pretty good track record of at least making the NHL, so it will be interesting to see how he develops. He is a project, but with Pavelec I think Winnipeg can take their time.
Alex Kangas: Kangas just finished his career at the University of Minnesota. He had a .921 save percentage in WCHA play as a Freshman, but since then has seen his stock take a tumble. It hit rock bottom this year when he had to miss the final part of his Senior season due to a shoulder injury. If he recovers I think he could be a cheap backup, but I don’t think he ever becomes an NHL starter.
Chris Carrozzi: Carrozzi is a former OHL goalie of the year, but has just a .894 save percentage in the ECHL this year.
Edward Pasquale: Has a .900 save percentage in the AHL and an .898 mark in ECHL play. He spent 3 full years in the OHL so he’s already fairly old by prospect standards.