Thursday, May 03, 2007

Penguins By The Numbers - Part Three The Goalies

Over the last week we have broken down the existing Penguins Forwards, and Defensemen...today we will get into the team's goaltenders and goaltending prospects. Which two goalies will make the team next season and who will man the crease in Wilkes Barre-Scranton? Here is my take...

With that let's get going...

Marc Andre Fleury - signed through '07-'08 and brings a cap hit of $1.295. Fleury is quickly becoming the goaltender that the team envisioned when they traded up to take him first overall in the 2003 National Hockey League Draft. Fleury is very athletic and quick as lightning. The one thing that stood out about his game this past season was that he no longer relied on straight athleticism and was starting to play the position. Goaltending coach Gilles Meloche had a lot to do with that, as he has spent much time working with the young goaltender on positioning and playing angles. Marc Andre Fleury is starting to make the spectacular save of old look routine...a product of proper positioning and staying upright. Fleury still needs to improve in certain areas such as rebound control and playing the puck, but he has taken major steps in the right direction. Fleury will be a part of the Penguins organization for years to come.

Jocelyn Thibault - Unrestricted Free Agent - Thibault is hoping to return to the Penguins but that is far from a given at this point. He did seem to finally get past the lingering hip problems that had dogged him during his first season in Pittsburgh and actually put together a fairly solid campaign behind Fleury. He worked very well in the role he was given by Coach Michel Therrien and is willing to stay on as a back up, but with the goaltending needs around the league some one could sign him by dangling the opportunity to start. Though Thibault looked more like his old self, he still seemed to have issues with perimeter shots, especially through traffic. He also seems to have lost a step and occasionally looked slow moving laterally in the net and getting back up during rapid flurries of shots. I foresee him moving on, but am not completely ruling out a return to the Penguins.

Nolan Schaefer - Unrestricted Free Agent - Schaefer was acquired from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline and immediately played a big role in Wilkes Barre-Scranton. The 27-year-old appeared in 15 games posting a record of 9-4, GAA of 2.24 and S% of .914. He has also been the main man for the Baby Penguins during their current Calder Cup run and could be positioning himself to be Marc Andre Fleury's back up come next season. The Penguins management team is intrigued with Shaefer and is trying to decide what they would like to do in regard to signing him. Schaefer has often been looked at as a career back up, but he is skilled and posted good numbers when given a 7 game look in San Jose. He has a large frame and doesn't make a ton of mistakes. He has not been given the opportunity to face top talent very often. He is my pick to be the top back up in Pittsburgh next season.

Goaltending Prospects:

David Brown - will become an Unrestricted Free Agent if not signed by August 15, 2007. Brown was one of the top goaltenders in NCAA Division I this past season as he posted career highs in almost every category. The Notre Dame Senior went 30-6-3, posting a 1.58 GAA, .931 S% and 6 shutouts. Brown is very athletic and has great reflexes; both traits make him tough to beat. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and will probably be signed for one of the open positions in Wilkes Barre Scranton. Ray Shero and Chuck Fletcher would like to add Brown and/or Bobby Goepfert to add goaltending depth.

Bobby Goepfert - will become an Unrestricted Free Agent if not signed by August 15, 2007. Goepfert was also one of the top goalies in NCAA Division I hockey this past season at St. Cloud State. I am doubtful that the Penguins will retain he and David Brown of Notre Dame, as the numbers each have posted could add dollars to any potential contract. Goepfert posted a record of 17-10-7, a GAA of 2.29 and a S% of .924. He has great reflexes and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He and David Brown grade out very closely and it may come down to which one the organization can sign easier.

Projected Goaltenders Pittsburgh '07-'08:

Marc Andre Fleury
Nolan Schaefer

Projected Goaltenders Wilkes Barre-Scranton '07-'08:

David Brown


I think that the Penguins will look at goaltending during free agency. Schaefer may be kept to start in Wilkes Barrie-Scranton if the team picks up a veteran NHL back up, which I think is a strong possibility. That would be best for the development of whichever college goaltender the team opts to retain. I will get more into who could potentially be signed when we discuss free agency and the Forward/Defensive prospects.

Look for the fourth and final "By the Numbers" regarding the forward/defensive prospects and free agency soon!

*****

The Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins begin their second round series with Hershey tonight. The defending Calder Cup Champions have been known to give the Penguins headaches, but the Baby Flightless Birds are ready after getting by Norfolk in 6 games. Jonathan Filewich and Ryan Stone have been playing very well during the playoffs, but they are doing it with the help of great Edmonton prospects Robert Nilsson and Marc-Antoine Pouliot.

Hershey knocked the Baby Penguins out of the playoffs last season and they will be looking for revenge as they pursue their first ever Calder Cup.

*****

In a vote being conducted by ESPN, all of the Penguins award nominees are leading their respective categories.


Stay tuned!

1 Comments:

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