Goaltenders Part 2Monday, December 17, 2012
For the second time on the AHL Report I am going to concentrate on goaltenders. While most NHL teams are set in the net, a few goaltenders in the AHL this season will find themselves between the pipes at some stage in the next NHL season.
The AHL is the training ground for most players in the NHL and goaltenders are no exception as most have seen at least some action in the top minor league in hockey.
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Curtis McElhinney – McElhinney has had the most NHL experience of this week’s goaltenders but at age 29, his likely role is at best a backup as he is just the third goaltender in the Columbus depth charts at this time with Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky ahead of him. He has been great in the AHL thus far as he is 14-3-1 with a 2.08 GAA and a .935 save percentage. He has already tied the Springfield record for most shutouts in one season with five. McElhinnney was the AHL’s goalie for the month of October.
Barry Brust – Brust is one of the more interesting goaltenders in the AHL. He currently leads the league in save percentage (.953) and goals-against-average (1.17). Although a member of the Calgary Flames farm team in Abbotsford, Brust is an unrestricted free agent and could end up with the Canucks as a backup to Cory Schneider if Roberto Luongo is dealt once the NHL resumes action. He is 29 years of age and is a journeyman goaltender at best but is picking a great time to have the best season of his career. Earlier this season Brust broke a 57 year old AHL record set by Johnny Bower when he ran up a shutout streak of 268:17 minutes. Despite his outstanding season, he has yet to be named goaltender of the month this season.
Matthew Hackett – The 22-year-old played a short stint in the NHL last season when both Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding were out with injuries. Hackett was 3-6-0 with a 2.38 GAA and a .922 save percentage while managing to set an NHL record as he had the longest shutout streak to start a career at 102:48 minutes. He set the record without getting a shutout as he replaced an injured Josh Harding after just 1:12 minutes into what turned out to be his NHL debut in a game against San Jose. He has played reasonably well thus far for the Aeros with an 11-6-3 mark to go with a 2.52 GAA and a .907 save percentage. He is third on the Minnesota Wild depth chart behind the aforementioned Backstrom and Harding but with Harding having some issues after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Hackett could be in line to back up in Minnesota on occasion.
Jeff Zatkoff – Zatkoff was the AHL’s goalie for the month of November as he was 8-1-0 with a 1.21 GAA and a .955 save percentage. He was originally drafted by the Kings in the third round of the 2006 Draft but with Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier ahead of him, he never got a sniff at NHL action. He left the organization in the off-season and signed a two-year deal with Pittsburgh, who sent him to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when the lockout began. Look for Zatkoff to finally get a shot in the NHL as the back up to Marc-Andre Fleury as soon as both sides in the CBA talks come up with a new agreement.
Ben Scrivens – Another one in the long line of Maple Leaf goalies of the future, Scrivens was sent to the Marlies when the lockout was imposed. He got off to a rocky start as coach Dallas Eakins called him out after a 2-3 start and told him he was fighting for the net. Scrivens has taken the challenge and has played well of late as he is 9-7-0 this season with a 2.50 GAA and a .907 save percentage. He likely will spend the season in the minors if Toronto deals for Roberto Luongo as has been rumored, but if not, then Scrivens will back up James Reimer with the chance to start if Reimer stumbles out of the gate.