Sunday, April 20, 2008

Goalies in Ottawa: A history of mediocrity

James Duthie wrote an interesting piece for the Ottawa Citizen last week about the Sens' historical problems with goaltenders, notably finding someone who can steal games for the team in the playoffs.

In it, Duthie goes over a list of goaltenders that the Sens could have drafted, which is an excercise in futility. If you look at the list of 'could-have-beens', you'll be left with 29 teams that missed a diamond in the rough, and you'll spend days, weeks, or months examining it. The fact of the matter is that judging goaltending talent is not an easy task, especially when the players are at the young age of only 17 or 18.

Examining a list of recent goaltending prospects the Sens have drafted, you can see that the team has not properly assessed, or at least addressed, its most glaring weakness:
  1. 2006 (5): Ryan Daniels
  2. 2004 (3): Jeff Glass
  3. 2003 (9): Brian Elliott
  4. 2001 (4): Ray Emery
  5. 1999 (2): Simon Lajeunesse
  6. 1999 (6): Martin Prusek
  7. 1998 (1): Mathieu Chouinard
  8. 1997 (2): Jani Hurme
  9. 1994 (4): Bryan Masotta
  10. 1994 (9): Frederic Cassivi
  11. 1993 (3): Patrick Charbonneau
  12. 1993 (9): Tony Kvalevog
  13. 1992 (11): Petter Ronnquist
Maybe Glass or Elliott are going to be great NHL goaltenders. But they certainly aren't there yet. There is a glaring need in the Senators front office, and that is a department to focus on addressing the biggest need for the Senators: goaltending.

Any Goaltending Department the Senators set up should include one or more scouts for the sole purpose of assessing the talent of goaltending prospects, and making judgements on them. Not only undrafted prospects, but also individuals playing on other teams who haven't been given the opportunity to develop properly.

Secondly, there is a need for goaltending coaches. Not only for the NHL squad, but also--and maybe more importantly--for the Binghamton team. Ron Low may have been a good goaltending coach, but he failed to show his abilities. As for Eli Wilson, the gong show surrounding how he was brought in--seemingly on the whim of Emery--really makes me wonder how effective or appropriate it was to have him in the organization. Well-respected former goaltenders who've made a successful transition into coaching are certainly rare, but the Senators need to find a way to have their goaltending prospects developed into true NHL players, and to keep them at the top of their game.

In his search for a head coach, maybe Bryan Murray should look for someone who's friendly with a good goalie coach. And maybe Eugene Melnyk or Roy Mlakar should recruit for the formation of a Goaltending Department.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin