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Spotlight on: Goaltenders

June 1, 2006

In the final installment of the “Spotlight” series here at End of the Bench, we turn our attention to the goaltenders. As I have only seen one Syracuse Crunch game in six years I don’t have any information on the minor league goaltenders, so this one will be short.Goaltenders

Pascal Leclaire
– Age – 23
– Status – Signed at least through the end of the upcoming season
– Pros – Leclaire has good quickness, decent positioning, and can make the highlight-reel save (I know this means that he was out of position at the time, but if you’re going to be out of position, is it not better to make a save than give up a goal like you “should”?)
– Cons – Probably still a year or so away from being a true #1 netminder. Leclaire may be forced to take the wheel earlier than anticipated if the Jackets decide to give him the keys.
– If I were GM/Coach – See below.

Marc Denis
– Age – 28
– Status – Denis is signed at least through the end of the season.
– Pros – Denis has the attitude of a backstopper who wants to be out on the ice all the time (he nearly did a few years back). Marc has good quickness, admirable stamina, and a wealth of mental toughness.
– Cons – Denis has somewhat of a tough time seeing through screens (what goalie doesn’t I suppose, but I see this a lot from Marc), and seems to have a bit of a tough time working in the platoon system that Coach Gallant used for much of the second half of the year. This could project itself into a little bit of locker room controversy if it’s not kept in check.
– If I were GM/Coach – See below

Regarding the GM/Coach question I’ve posed for each player, I have a direction I’d pursue this upcoming season with respect to the goaltenders. I would platoon Leclaire/Denis through February. If Leclaire improves as I expect, I think he’d be good enough to be the full-time #1 in 2007-08. I’d shop Denis at the trade deadline to a needy playoff team (I’m still not sure we’ll be there next year) for promising young players. If the Jackets are still in the hunt, I’d seriously think about keeping Denis for a playoff run. I’d be taking the chance that I lose him to free agency in the post-season, but as we’re seeing in the current playoffs (Gerber/Ward, Bryzgalov/Giguere) it doesn’t hurt to have a few good men in net. I’m sold on Leclaire for the future, now he has the task of going out next year and making me look smart (quite an order).

Also, I’ve updated the link list on the sidebar. I’ve added Army of the Ohio (a new Blue Jackets blog), and Red and Black Hockey (another well-written Hurricanes blog).

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