Spinorama Hockey

Winnipeg Goalie Giannuzzi makes Portland Winterhawks!

GOALIE: DANTE GIANNUZZI, Portland Winterhawks

2002, Rink Hockey Academy, Winnipeg, MB

As we predicted in the past, we knew there was plenty of upside for this young man.  As quoted in our previous “Spin Spotlight” column about this future NHL prospect,

“Giannuzzi is mentally tough and has tons of big game experience both nationally and internationally.  He is a shoe in to be a top goalie pick in the Western Hockey League draft. Take our word for it, the lucky team won’t be sorry…”

The Portland Winterhawks are definitely not sorry.  Voted the top WHL organization as surveyed by the Hockey News in 2017, Giannuzzi is showing them they made the right choice.  How many 16 year old goalies play in the CHL?  The answer?  Not many.  Well, you can add one to this year’s crop.  Working against the odds and just turning 16, this impressive young man has made the opening day roster and back up goaltending duties for the CHL’s pre season 7th ranked Winterhawks.  If you read the media around the team, it may not be to long before he challenges for the top duties.

As reported by Portland Winterhawks community blogger, Samantha Meese:

“Back-up plan: I was excited to see Shane Farkas on the NHL invite list. He has earned that opportunity with the Flames. That being said, I think his toughest competition this season may come from within. Based on his preseason performance, Dante Giannuzzi could very well end up as the starter this season.”

Nothing will surprise us anymore about Giannuzzi.  His unique drive, quiet confidence and dedication to his craft are just a few of the many positive attributes that WHL followers will soon find out and love about him if they don’t already know.

Spinorama Staff

 

 

10 Interesting Goalies The Winnipeg Jets Should Target

Coming into this season, one of the biggest questions the Winnipeg Jets had was goaltending.  Unfortunately while sitting at the bottom of the NHL’s goals against and save percentage stats nearly all year, the questions still remains,  which goalie do the Jets target going into the summer? There were many options going into this past season but head coach Paul Maurice as he has stated himself with the 3 goaltenders he was handed decided to go with Connor Hellebuyck & Michael Hutchinson while placing Ondrej Pavelec (his only veteran) on waivers.

We believe the Jets feel their young highly touted sophmore keeper Connor Hellebuyck can one day be a legitimate number one goalie for them. However, with his lack of experience, this perhaps was the biggest gamble the team made going into this season. It did not pay off. And yet again, the team is left on the outside of a playoff spot, looking in. So with the added pressure on the organization to get back to the playoffs next season, they cannot afford to have their goaltending be a question mark again.
Here are 10 goalies the Jets should try and target for the upcoming season.  Either as Unrestricted Free Agents or by trade:

 
Marc-Andre Fleury
With 372 career wins and 2 Stanley Cups, Fleury is a proven winner. However, with Matt Murray’s performance the end of last season, he was rumored to either be traded or selected by Vegas in expansion draft. Fleury also has a no-movement/modified no-trade clause, which may have also factored in him staying with the Pens. He would need to agree to waive it in order for him to accept a trade to the Jets. With the number of teams needing a #1 goalie, he may want to accept a trade to a team where he would not need to battle for playing time. Fleury is signed for 2 more years at a cap hit of $5.75 million, and it might be the perfect term for Jets to work with. The Jets could use him in a 60/40 split with Hellebuyck, giving Connor enough time to learn from Fleury in order to develop into a number one goalie.

 

Ben Bishop
In one of the more surprising deadline deals, the LA Kings acquired Bishop the same week Jonathan Quick returned to full health. The Jets had been rumored to have been interested in him, along with teams like Dallas and St.Louis, but his modified no-trade clause may have come into play. Add to the fact, that Bishop was traded for Peter Budaj and not much else, the Jets certainly could have made a better offer to the Lightning. This would have given them a chance to preview his abilities, and also the ability to have first crack at offering him an extension. Only 30 years old, Bishop has had some strong seasons with the Lightning, posting a 40 win season and two at 30+, along with some good playoff performances. The only knock on Bishop might be his injury history. However, he will definitely be one of the most sought after UFA goalies, and the chances of landing him with a term of less than 4 or 5 years are not very likely. If the Jets want him, they would have to make a bigger commitment, both in years and dollars.

 

Scott Darling
Darling has had a solid season as a backup to Corey Crawford, posting a 16-5-2 record with a .931 save percentage and 2 shutouts. Between Crawford’s injury earlier in the season and his strong play, the team has given him additional playing time. A great asset is his height. At 6’6, Darling is one of the tallest netminders in the NHL (Bishop 6’7). He is set to become an UFA at the end of the season, unless the Blackhawks can work out a deal to keep him. Like Bishop, he will be of the top goalies available, and teams will likely be lining up for his services. The only downside is that Darling, who is 28, has only played as a backup for 3 seasons, so he has limited experience in the NHL. He does have playoff experience, when he filled in for a struggling Crawford in the first round, two seasons ago. Darling went 3-1, with a 2.21 GAA and .936 save percentage. Despite his lack of experience, it will still likely take a long-term deal to sign him, but likely at a cap-hit lower than Bishop. The Jets could use both him and Hellebuyck as a solid 1-2 combination for years to come.

 

Corey Schneider
The former Manitoba Moose goalie, played a few years with the Vancouver Canucks before being traded to the New Jersey Devils. He has kept the Devils competitive, despite the clear lack of talent up front in front of him. Schneider owns a solid career save percentage of .923. Earlier this season, rumor had the Devils wanting to move on from Schneider, and at only 30 years old, he should still have a lot of good years ahead of him. Schneider has 5 more years remaining on his contact at $6 million per season, and the Devils would likely want a goalie in return, plus more. If the Jets were to trade a package including Hellebuyck, they would then need to decide whether to keep Hutchinson as his back-up (not recommended), or go out and sign a serviceable back-up goalie.
Corey Crawford
It seems like each year, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman needs to find ways of having his team fit under the cap, as a result of the $10.5 million that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane bring in. He does it so often that you can pretty much make a roster consisting of all the ex-players they have traded away over the last 7-8 years. This year, it could be Corey Crawford. If Bowman finds a way to get Darling to sign a team-friendly contract, this could lead to Crawford being traded. In previous years, the Jets have been included in these rumors. The Jets may want Chicago to eat up some of the 3 years he has remaining, at $6 million per year. With 3 Stanley Cup rings, Crawford’s winning pedigree would be a welcome addition to the team.

 
Brian Elliott
The former St.Louis Blues starter was signed to a 1 year contract by Calgary, and after a slow start has been recently playing well during Flames recent long winning streak and playoff push. Elliott also had a good playoff run last season with the Blues, up until they were ousted by San Jose Sharks. Elliott is 31 years old and has plenty of NHL experience, after first breaking into the NHL with the Ottawa Senators in 2008/09. The Flames decide not extend him, he could be a good value signing for the Jets on a short-term deal, while allowing Hellebuyck to continue to grow into the starting role.

 
Jaroslav Halak
Halak did not have great start to his season, and a much publicized spat between his agent, Allan Walsh, and the team did not help. He became available to all clubs in December, when the New York Islanders waived him. However, no team was interested in taking on his contract, which had this and next season remaining, at a cap hit of $4.5 million. However, since his demotion to the AHL, he has a record of 15-4-3 record with 2 shutouts and a save percentage of .931. He also has 206 career NHL wins, along with 40 shutouts. If the Jets could work out a trade with Isles, getting Halak to play for them for one year might be all the time needed for Hellebuyck to develop into their #1 goalie. Like Pavelec, Halak would also be playing for a contract and his pride. This might be the most ideal option available for the Jets.

 
Steve Mason
Playing in what appears to be his final season with the Philadelphia Flyers, Mason’s career has rebounded after a poor start with his original club, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mason, who will be an UFA at the end of this season, has put up some decent stats, playing 50+ games each season since being with the Flyers. He has had a 30+ win season and has recorded a total of 14 shutouts. Even though this season appears to have been a letdown for both for himself and the team, it might be good time for the Jets to buy low on him. He may end up being a perfect candidate for a rebound season while also mentoring Hellebuyck.

 
Craig Anderson
Anderson has had 7 successful seasons with Ottawa Senators and will be in the final year of a 3-year contract, which will pay him $4.2 million. The Senators recently traded for goalie Mike Condon, who filled in well while Anderson was away from the team. While Anderson may not be a good candidate to be traded, due to his wife’s health issues, if the Senators do not plan to keep or extend him, he could become available. Anderson has put up some solid numbers with the Senators, including 22 shutouts over the past 4 seasons and a .916 career save percentage. He could be a great addition to help the Jets finally return to the playoffs.

 
Aaron Dell
The Jets have probably seen enough of Dell this season to be impressed with his play. Dell played in 2 out the 3 games that the Jets-Sharks have played this season, and he won both of them. Although he has not played much, he has made the most of his opportunity, with a 9-3-1 record, a 1.81 GAA, and a save percentage of .935. He may be a darkhorse player for the Jets to actually acquire, but if you think of other former backups, like Thomas Greiss and Cam Talbot, who made the most of their opportunities, Dell could be one of them. Although he is one of the shortest goalies, at 6’0, this hasn’t stopped him from making it to the NHL. He could be an ideal and solid backup for years to come.

Mass D

HISTORY TELLS US WHO SHOULD WIN THE CALDER TROPHY…

 

NHL’s rookie of the year trophy, a.k.a. the Calder trophy is awarded annually to the NHL’s top rookie scorer…arghh….check that…let me try that again. The Calder Trophy is awarded: “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League”.

Let me first say that I think Austin Matthews is a special player. Even enjoy watching him play some nights. But I need to get this off my chest. If I have to listen to one more media type in Winnipeg (never mind the constant barrage from the Toronto media) that say Austin Matthews should beat out Patrick Laine for the Calder Trophy I’m going to throw a Jeanne’s cake at my TV set. What ever happened to homerism? I’ve checked, this is a word. This notion that Laine has to finish with so many more points and/or goals than Matthews to win the Calder is not only insulting to every perogy eating, fake jersey wearing, looking for a deal cheapskate Winnipeger, but it is also historically inaccurate!

Since when does the leading point getter in the NHL (exceptions to defensemen and goalies) not win the Calder Trophy? Of course, I am not saying that Laine will win the scoring race, just saying that if he does, he should win the Calder Trophy based on what I see up to the writing of this article. The sceptics? Oh yes, I forgot he’s not as good defensively as Matthews. First off that is debatable. If plus/minus is an indicator which I know the analytic folk would say no, Laine is currently a plus 9 and Matthews a plus 3 on a Leafs team that is currently 9 games better than the Jets. On an aside, I would ask how much of our local media actually watch Leaf games to make this defensive game judgement. Equally, you may want to ask the pundits at the center of the universe as to how many of them go out of their way to watch Jet games and keep up with Laine and his developing defensive game.  I’m sure they would rather watch a Toronto Argonaut’s game instead… Unfortunately, throughout time this is why points are used as the barometer in voting as it is for other trophies (see comments below).

Back to the “Matthews is better defensively” and that’s why he should win the Calder argument. Really? Let’s try this argument with another NHL trophy. How about the Norris Trophy? Annually awarded to the NHL’s top defensemen.  Even the NHL’s top defensemen award nearly always is awarded to the defensemen with the most or near the top of defensemen points.

If you don’t believe me, here is a list of Calder Trophy winners from 1980-81 that are not defensemen or goalies. 22 Forwards won the Calder Trophy and all of them lead the rookie class in scoring with the exception of Chris Drury in 1998-99 who finished 4 points behind Milan Hejduk & 2 points behind Brendan Morrison in a very low scoring race. Pavel Bure in 1991-92 also was an exception, though he had the highest points per game that year and only played 65 games due to injury (also points per game is a category Laine is leading in).

2015-16 Artemi Panarin
Note: Beat out McDavid who played in only 45 Games but had 48 points

2013-14 Nate MacKinnon

2012-13 Jonathan Huberdeau

2011-12 Gabriel Landeskog
Note: A winger who had 4 more goals & was tied w/52 points w/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who was a center.

2010-11 Jeff Skinner
Note: A winger with 7 more points and 1 less goal than center Logan Couture

2007-08 Patrick Kane
Note: Winger w/3 more points & 7 more goals but was -5, Trailing Kane was Backstrom a center was +13

2006-07 Evgeni Malkin

2005-06 Alexander Ovechkin
Note: Ovechkin had 4 more points and 13 more goals than Crosby the center. This is very interesting as we hear these names as comparable to Laine & Matthews.

2001-02 Dany Heatley

1999-00 Scott Gomez

1998-99 Chris Drury
Note: Finished 4 points behind Milan Hejduk & 2 points behind Brendan Morrison.

1997-98 Sergei Samsonov

1994-95 Peter Forsberg

1992-93 Teemu Selanne

1991-92 Pavel Bure
Note: Finished 4th but had the highest points per game. Only played in 65 games.

1989-90 Sergei Makarov

1987-88 Joe Nieuwendyk

1986-87 Luc Robitaille

1984-85 Mario Lemieux

1982-83 Steve Larmer

1981-82 Dale Hawerchuk

1980-81 Peter Stastny
The moral of the story is if Patrick Laine wins the rookie scoring race he should be the rookie of the year. I know it can’t be solely decided on pure points, but to make the defensive argument for me is a precedent setter. Come on Winnipeg media types, be homers (which by the way would make you historically accurate in the Laine vs Matthews argument). Time to wake up and smell the perogies…

The Trade Deadline Match Game

With the NHL schedule well into the second half of the season, teams are faced with the decision on what to do with their rosters. Playoff bound teams need to decide whether they will go into the playoffs with their existing roster or if they will try to add one or two pieces to help them make a long run. Teams that are out of the playoffs are looking to get the most they can for players on expiring contracts or even major deals to unload some contracts. Then there are the teams in the middle, unsure of which direction to take. It’s the NHL trade deadline.

The trade deadline is one of the few times that both TSN and Sportsnet go head-to- head for ratings supremacy. They spend an entire day devoted to it, hoping to be the first to break the news on a big trade. They began promoting and hyping their shows more than a month before the deadline date. However, as much as fans and broadcasters anticipate the days leading up and to the trade deadline, it can also end up being a big dud. A number of factors contribute to may contribute to this, including teams being up against the salary cap, the increase in no trade/movement clauses in player’s contracts, and the number of teams still in playoff hunt, compared to the number of sellers. This year there’s an added wrinkle, with the Vegas expansion. Teams are hesitant to make big moves with fear of losing players during, the expansion draft.

There are some teams who have been out of the playoff picture for quite some time, like Arizona and Colorado. Others who are on the cusp like Detroit, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Winnipeg. There will be more sellers as the deadline nears, hopefully leading to more activity. While most fans are looking for the big blockbuster deal, those are rare during the deadline. Those type of trades are usually made during or after draft day, once all the dust has settled. However, all it could take is a minor deal to put a contending team over the top. Buyers will be looking for that diamond in the rough, like a Joel Ward, John Druce, or ChrisKontos, to play the unlikely playoff hero.

What I’ve decided to do is try and predict the destination of players who have been rumored to be traded and match them up with the teams who I think will be the buyers. We’ll see how many (if any) I actually get right after the deadline.

WEST

Anaheim

Randy Carlyle teams are known to be gritty and tough. GM Bob Murray has also let it be known he will not be paying a premium for rentals.

Prediction: Steve Ott (Det), PA Parenteau (NJ)

Dark Horse: Shane Doan (Ari), Ryan Miller (Ana)

Chicago

The Blackhawks have been looking for a winger to play with Jonathan Toews. Bowman has been creative in working within the salary cap.

Prediction: Victor Stalberg (Car), Dennis Seidenberg (NYI)

Dark Horse: Alex Burrows (Van), Johnny Oduya (Dal)

Edmonton

This is the first time the Oilers have been in the playoffs in over 10 years. GM

Peter Chiarelli knows what it takes to go deep into the playoffs.

Prediction: Jay McClement (Car), John Mitchell (Col)

Dark Horse: Martin Hanzal (Ari)

Los Angeles

Always a threat to go far in the playoffs. Could get a healthy Jonathan Quick back by end of the season. Could use some scoring depth.

Prediction: Radim Vrbata (Ari)

Dark Horse: Tomas Vanek (Det), Jaroslav Halak (NYI)

Nashville

David Poile has been the most active GMs in making big trades over the past few years. They may need to acquire a centre to replace the recently demoted Mike Ribeiro.

Prediction: Tomas Vanek (Det), Martin Hanzal (Ari), Fedor Tyutin (Col)

Dark Horse: Matt Duchene (Col), Valtteri Filppula (TB)

St. Louis

One of a few teams that could be both and buyer and seller, as they have the most coveted upcoming UFA in Kevin Shattenkirk. Asking price is high. Big decision on what they do.

Prediction: Drew Stafford (Wpg)

Dark Horse: Radim Vrbata (Ari), Johnny Oduya (Dal)

San Jose

The Sharks almost won the Cup and are looking to make possibly a final run with some key players, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. GM Doug Wilson has already made some lineup changes and traded Tommy Wingels.

Prediction: Shane Doan (Ari), Ron Hainsey (Car)

Dark Horse: Jarome Iginla (Col), Jannik Hansen (Van), Tomas Vanek (Det)

EAST

Boston

No team has been in the trade rumor mill more than the Bruins. After finally firing Claude Julien, GM Don Sweeney needs to finally decide whether he’s going to pull the trigger on a big trade or settle for some minor ones.

Prediction: Gabriel Landeskog (Col), Lauri Korpikoski (Dal)

Dark Horse: Patrick Sharp (Dal), Kevin Shattenkirk (StL)

Columbus

This is one team that may end standing pat during the deadline. Not many holes to fill or a lot of cap space to play with.

Prediction: Ron Hainsey (Car)

Dark Horse: Radim Vrbata (Ari)

Montreal

GM Marc Bergevin is all-in with the hiring of Claude Julien and key players who may not be around for much longer. Pressure is on to make a big deal.

Prediction: Patrick Sharp (Dal), Johnny Oduya (Dal)

Dark Horse: Matt Duchene (Col), Mark Streit (Phi)

NY Rangers

The Rangers haven’t done much in the playoffs. They need to be able to

challenge Pittsburgh/Washington. Is this King Henrik’s last stand?

Prediction: Alex Burrows (Van), Patrick Wiercioch (Col)

Dark Horse: Kevin Shattenkirk (StL)

Ottawa

Boucher has Sens playing well. Owner Eugene Melynk says he’s willing to spend, if it makes sense.

Prediction: Jiri Hudler (Dal), Paul Postma (Wpg)

Dark Horse: Patrick Eaves (Dal), Jannik Hansen (Van)

Pittsburgh

Favorite to come out the East and repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Rutherford always looking to make a big splash.

Prediction: Rene Bourque (Col), Michael Stone (Ari)

Dark Horse: Radim Vrbata (Ari), Tomas Vanek (Det)

Washington

Need to find a way to finally beat Pittsburgh and advance deep into the playoffs. Will they find the right mix finally do this?

Prediction: Patrick Eaves (Dal), Brian Boyle (TB)

Dark Horse: Kevin Shattenkirk (StL)

Does Danault’s End to End Goal Mirror the Winnipeg Jets?

At the beginning of the season, most people picked the Winnipeg Jets to miss the playoffs. I was not one of them. When I looked at their projected roster, there were many reasons to be excited about their potential. Mark Scheifele ended the previous season as the hottest player in the NHL. Nikolai Ehlers was very impressive with his speed and goal scoring prowess. To the surprise of many, Dustin Byfuglien had also signed an extension with the team without evening testing the UFA market. Add to that the fact they would have the 2nd overall pick Patrik Laine and US college standout Kyle Connor in the lineup, I liked the DNA of the team, considering where the NHL game is headed. Youth and speed.

So far this season has been up and down, with the team continually floating around the .500 mark. Just when you think they are about to take off, they come crashing back down. Not yet being able to produce a winning streak of 3 games or more, this season. The frustrating part about this is how they are able to totally dominate in one game, against the top teams in the NHL, and in the very next game appear to not even show up. And this has not happened just once. It has occurred several times during the season.

The most recent example of this was the game against the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs got off to an early lead, scoring two quick goals in the 1st, with the Jets responding not long after. However, the Habs struck for two more, during which goalie Connor Hellebuyck was chased from the crease. The see-saw battle continued until early in the 2nd, when Habs forward Phillip Danault scored on a highlight-reel, end-to-end rush. The goal itself resembled one you would see in a Sunday pick-up game at a local community club, played with little equipment and no contact. Danault dodged four Jets skaters before quickly ripping a wrist shot past goalie Michael Hutchinson. As a result of the goal, and after calling a timeout, coach Paul Maurice lit into his team, which ended up being the most talked about hockey story of the night. The tirade unleashed by their coach was a long time coming.

After looking at the replay a few times it got me thinking how the goal itself represents the Jets current situation. First, as Danault wound his way around the net he was being chased by Ehlers. Ehlers was not quick enough to catch up to him, and before you knew it, he was gone. Ehlers, is part of the youth movement of the Jets and up until Laine got hurt, they, along with Scheifele, were part of the most exciting and top producing lines in hockey. The Jets have one of the most promising pool of young players in the league, which includes the likes of Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, Jack Roslovic, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, Eric Comrie, and Kyle Connor. As much as we’d like to see them immediately dominate and lead the team to a playoff spot, this doesn’t happen overnight. It does take time. Just as Ehlers wasn’t quite able to get to Danault on that play, the youth of this team may not quite be ready to lift this team into a playoff spot.

The next player Danault whiffed by was forward Drew Stafford. Stafford seemed to have the edge on Danault, but with a couple of quick strides combined with a light-hearted checking effort, he was gone. Stafford is an upcoming UFA and is part of the only big trade made by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff in the past 6 seasons. The trade sent Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and goalie prospect Jason Kasdorf to the Buffalo Sabres for Stafford, Tyler Myers, Lemieux, Armia, and a 1st round pick, which ended up being Roslovic. It was a great haul for Chevy, landing two roster players and three top prospects. However, in the final year of his contract, it’s more likely than not that Stafford ends up being traded at the trade deadline, regardless of whether the Jets are in a playoff hunt or not. The other player, Tyler Myers, appeared to be a shoe-in to be protected in the upcoming expansion draft, with Jets needing to decide whether to protect 8 skaters or 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and a goalie. However, with back-to-back injury filled seasons and the emergence of Trouba, Myers may no longer be a lock to be protected. If he were to get chosen by the Vegas expansion team, the Jets would have lost two key components of this trade. This leaves the question: Has Chevy done enough on the trade front to improve this team immediately and make them a contender? Or it is too early to do this, based on their draft and develop model?

The third and fourth players who fell victim on the play, were Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien. Little was in the same position as Stafford, except on the opposite side, and ended with the same result. Then, when Danault crossed the blue line, instead of blocking his lane, Byfuglien attempted to step into him, which the Habs forward easily dodged, on his way unimpeded to the Jets net. Little and Buff represent the core of this team. The core that came from Atlanta when the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg. Slowly, some of these pieces have been moved, with the biggest and most recent being captain Andrew Ladd last season.

Coming into this season the biggest question was, who would take over as the captain of this team? Some were calling for their first 1st rd pick, Scheifele, to be named captain. Others saw Blake Wheeler being the natural successor in the role left by his close friend, Ladd. The trend in the league has been to give big contracts to young stars, with the bridge deals becoming less and less common. But is giving the captain’s role to an up-and-coming star asking too much? It was a decision both Maurice and Chevy needed to make wisely. One question being, is the core still the current focal part of this team? The biggest question going into last season is what would become of Ladd and Buff? Both players were set to become UFAs. Could the Jets afford to re-sign both, with the number of young players needing to be paid down the road? Should they move on from the core and allow the young players to step in and take over right away? In the end, they did both by trading Ladd, while keeping Buff. Keeping Buff appeared to be the smart move. A unique and dynamic player in a position that is so sought after and so tough to fill. However, thus far Buff has not had as strong season as last, which sometimes can be expected after a contract year. With that, coupled with the team’s recent struggles, the core question has again resurfaced. Two of these players, Little and Toby Enstrom, are signed until next season. Captain Wheeler has two more years, and Buff has four years left. It’s a question that may need to be addressed if this team fails to either improve or make the playoffs.

Finally, the last line of defense that Danault had to cross was the player standing in front of the net. Yes, the goaltender. No Jets position has been more closely scrutinized over the years than in goal. This play, Hutchinson did not have much of chance, with Danault pretty much having a clear cut breakaway as he put the wrist shot short side, past him. This hasn’t always been the case though. In the first five seasons, Ondrej Pavelec was given the opportunity to be the #1 goalie. With him in net, the Jets have made the postseason once over the previous five seasons only to be swept in four games by the Ducks. This season, the team decided to move on from Pavelec and give Connor Hellebuyck the opportunity to grow into the position, to see if he can take over as the team’s best goalie. Just like the rest of the team, Helle has had his ups and downs. One game, he shuts out the Blackhawks, and then he gets pulled in back-to-back games against the Habs and Arizona Coyotes. The success, or lack thereof, and the focal point has always seemed to revolve around save percentage. It’s not good enough. Not high enough. It’s below average. It seems to all come back to the chicken or the egg question. Is it the goaltending that is the problem? Or is it the team defense that needs improving?  Or both for that matter?

The team knew going into this season that they were taking a risk going with two inexperienced goalies. They have also been handcuffed by the Hutch situation, in not wanting to send him down and expose him to waivers, due the upcoming expansion draft. Despite having to still pay Pavs, should Chevy had gone out and signed or traded for a veteran backup, in case Hellebuyck faltered? As they say, hindsight is 20/20, but outside the entry draft, this is the only position that Chevy has not made a significant move via free agency or trade. Yet it is a position that, right or wrong, continues to be the most magnified. While they have tried to move Pavelec, they have thus far found no takers due to his contract. This may change as it gets closer to the deadline. However, this may be preventing them from bringing in another goalie, such as Jaroslav Halak, who you can argue has had more success than Pavs.

One end-to-end play which mirrors and exposes the issues, decisions, and questions, which, depending on how the season goes, the Jets may need to address sooner than later.

Editor’s Note: Pavelec was re-called to the Jets as of the date of this article (January 17th, 2017).

 

How is Connor Hellebuyck Actually Doing?

It’s not easy being Connor Hellebuyck this week. It wasn’t bad last week. This seems to alternate week to week. The inconsistency of a young team and it’s young goalie starting to take a toll. Days after he shut out the Calgary Flames and claiming confidence, he gets shelled in back to back games against the Montreal Candadiens & bottom feeders the Arizona Coyotes.

With all the noise from the media, with all the highs and lows about Connor Hellebuyck’s record so far this season, our Spinorama writers took some time to look into how well our new to the NHL goalie has been doing. We decided that to keep things in perspective we would look at other top goalies in the NHL and how their careers started. I promise no mention of the Jets defensive game wows or firing of any of their coaches…

In Connor Hellebuyck’s first full seasons, his record so far is as follows:

2015-2017 (2 yrs): 29 Wins, 24 Losses, 2 OT, 5 Shutouts for a 912 Save%

Keep in mind prior to the last 2 games when he was pulled after 13 shots letting in 6 goals, he had a 915 Save%, the reason I mention this is we are judging him at most likely the low point of this season)

Here are some top net minders in the NHL that we looked at the beginning of their careers followed by the years, wins, losses, OT Losses, Shutouts and Save%:
Sergei Bobrovsky

2010-2012 (2 yrs): 42 Wins, 23 Losses, 10 OT, 0 Shutouts for 909 Save%

Devan Dubnyk

2009-2012 (3 yrs): 36 Wins, 43 Losses, 13 OT, 4 Shutouts for 910 Save%

Carey Price

2007-2008 (2 yrs): 47 Wins, 28 Losses, 13 OT, 4 Shutouts for 911 Save%

Frederik Anderson

2013-2015 (2 yrs): 55 Wins, 17 Losses, 5 OT, 3 Shutouts for 917 Save%

Corey Crawford

2010-2012 (2 yrs): 63 Wins, 35 Losses, 13 OT, 4 Shutouts for 910 Save%
With the exception of Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck is on pace to better Sergei Bobrovsky, Devan Dubnyk, Carey Price and Corey Crawford at the beginning of their careers. Also important to note with the exception of Dubnyk, the win loss records of their teams were much better than the current Winnipeg Jets so we can assume their teams in front of them were better or more experienced.

I’m not saying by any means that Connor Hellebuyck is better than any of the above goalies but maybe in this high intensity market of Winnipeg (not really), the only thing I’m really saying is, it’s not easy being Connor Hellebuyck…

written by Frank Zappia