Sunday, August 16, 2009

Getting to Know the Future: Goalie Style

Prior to the 2009 NHL Entry Draft we felt that the New York Rangers needed to add at least 1 goalie to the prospect pipeline. Nice guys that the Rangers are they added 2 and to their credit they did it in a very smart way.

The Rangers added Chad Johnson by sending one of their 5th round picks (#151) to the Pittsburgh Penguins and then using another 5th round pick (#140) to select Scott Stajcer. One goalie who is ready to enter the professional ranks while the other is still playing he was towards a professional contract.

Both goalies are expected to attend the Traverse City camp and since the Baby Rangers are expected to play 4 games we expect them to split the workload before Stajcer is sent back to Owen Sound of the OHL.

Chad Johnson originally was a 5th round pick of the Penguins in 2006, a 3 year starter for the Alaska Nanooks. Johnson is coming off a career season where he won the CCHA Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker among the many awards that he earned last season.

Johnson is 6'3 200 which is now about an average size for a goalie. We found some tape on Johnson from when he was in the running for the Hobey Baker.

It is a pretty good clip of the kind of goalie Johnson is. We only saw him play once against Michigan and he played a strong game when he beat the Wolverines 4-1. In checking our notes from that game; Johnson gave up a 1st period goal and then the Wolverines could not figure out how to beat him.

Johnson is strong in squaring up and cutting down the angles for shooters. He is very cool under pressure and you do not see him crumbling under pressure.

As for his potential; the question is not about Johnson's potential but rather whether or not the Rangers think Miika Wiikman still fits in their plans. Right now Matt Zaba holds the Hartford Wolfpack starting job so Johnson might be heading to Charlotte to start the season.

As an older prospect the path for Johnson should be shorter than one coming in as a college freshman or in the case of the Ranger's other new goalie just off his first full season in the CHL.

We also found this clip that we think you will find interesting as it is the story behind Johnson's mask.

The other new goalie prospect Scott Stajcer already is starting his 2009-2010 on a good note. Stajcer will be entering the 2009-2010 OHL season as the starting goalie for the Owen Sound Attack.

Stajcer finished the 2008-2009 season 15-15-5 but it was enough to convince the Attack coaching staff to give Stajcer the starting job for this season. Stajcer walked away with several of the Attack team awards including Best Draft Prospect.

We did not have any video of Stajcer to post up but and since we do not have an actual first hand look we are going to go with some of those who's views we have relied upon in the past.

Stajcer we have seen compared to Steve Mason of Columbus as well as Roberto Luongo of Vancouver in terms of style of play. What got our attention is that Hockey Canada brought him in for their goalie evaluation camp prior to their National Evaluation Camp.

Since we did know many who was invited to this camp then to see Stajcer included says a lot about his potential. With Owen Sound also a team on the rise then Stajcer is in a very good place to work on his development.

This will be a very good test for Stajcer as none of the current Ranger goalie prospects including Chad Johnson have shown us that they could develop into a starting NHL goalie. Because of his youth, Stajcer at the very least offers a possibility.

Starting Sept 6th we shall see which goalie brings the most hope and potential.


Last year we told you the story about Jason Baird, a career minor league player who was hurt very badly in an off-season accident. Baird was burnt badly over most of his body and several of his former junior teammates came together (including Ranger goalie Stephen Valiquette) to help raise money for Baird and his family.

Our friend Victor Fernandes who covers the Erie Otters has an update on Baird which can be found here. We are happy for Baird who has taught us a lesson about never quitting and overcoming the greatest of odds.

(Johnson courtesy of University of Alaska, Stajcer courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL)

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