Washington Capitals Prospect Rankings: Winter 2014

Chandler Stephenson has been one of the most impressive Caps prospects this season (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The first half of the 2013-14 season has been mostly positive for Washington Capitals prospects. Unknowns like Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson have shown real NHL potential, while the elder statesmen of the pool like Nate Schmidt and Patrick Wey, both coming off tremendous college careers, have made steps up the Caps’ depth chart.

However, top two Caps prospects will wish their first half was better: Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s injuries have limited his action and Tom Wilson has had a hard time gaining a meaningful role with the big club.

The feel-good story of the season so far has been Stephenson, who had been bugged by injuries in the past, but is now thriving in a veteran role as an offensive go-to guy for his team. I’ve got more on these stories and our full top-20 ranking below.

See our previous prospect ranking.

 
Player
Club/League
1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, LWTraktor (KHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 198 lbs | Age: 21 | Shoots: L | Born in: Chelyabinsk, RUS
Acquired: 26th overall, 2010 Draft | Rights held indefinitely
Kuznetsov was plagued by injuries in the first half of his season, missing more than two months. Despite having a few strong outings, he hasn't contributed steadily and has allegedly been playing through some of the persistent ailments. Kuznetsov's injuries and inconsistent play cost him a slot on the Russian Olympic team. He's set to join the Caps later this season.
Potential: First-line scoring forwardPrevious rank: 1
2. Tom Wilson, RWWashington
Ht: 6'4" | Wt: 210 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Toronto, ON
Acquired: 16th overall, 2012 Draft | Contract expires in 2016 (RFA)
The Caps' decision to keep Wilson up with the team instead of sending him back to the OHL's Plymouth Whalers was controversial. Since the beginning of his NHL career, Wilson has rarely had anything more than a fourth-line role with no special teams, giving him just around seven minutes on the ice per game. He's done well in the limited role but whether it will have a positive affect on his development remains to be seen.
Potential: Top-six power forwardPrevious rank: 2
3. Riley Barber, RWMiami (NCAA)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 198 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Livonia, MI
Acquired: 167th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2016
Barber didn't impress me with his skating in limited NCAA viewings, but he did splendid at WJC. As captain of a young American squad, Barber netted a team-leading four goals in five games. He's proven his freshman year at Miami wasn't a fluke, picking up where he left off and dominating the college ranks together with running mate Austin Czarnik again, even though the Redhawks, who have moved from disbanded CCHA to the newly-formed NCHC, had some struggles out of the gate.
Potential: Second-line two-way forwardPrevious rank: 5
4. Philipp Grubauer, GHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 184 lbs | Age: 22 | Catches: L | Born in: Rosenheim, GER
Acquired: 112th overall, 2010 Draft | Contract expires in 2015 (RFA)
The Caps recalled Grubauer when Michal Neuvirth went down due to injury, and Grubi made the most of that chance and then some. Despite facing a lot of shots, he stole some games and really showed off his progression since lockout forced him to the ECHL just one year ago. Grubauer's emergence pushed Neuvirth's agent to publicly request a trade as Grubauer seemed to have stolen the back-up job. Even though he's been sent back down after a couple of sub-par outings, this young, flexible German netminder is a big riser in the Caps prospect pool.
Potential: Average-to-below average starterPrevious rank: 6
5. Andre Burakovsky, LWErie (OHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 179 lbs | Age: 18 | Shoots: L | Born in: Klagenfurt, AUT
Acquired: 23rd overall, 2013 Draft | Contract expires in 2016 (RFA)
The shifty Swede had impressive success at the start of his North American career with Erie of the OHL. His offensive tools made him one of the OHL's most feared goal-scorers and a part of the league's leading powerplay unit in no time. At the WJC, where the star-studded Swedish team won silver, Burakovsky played on the third line, limiting his opportunities at even strength. But he made the most of his role on the powerplay.
Potential: Second-line scoring forwardPrevious rank: 4
6. Connor Carrick, DWashington
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 190 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Orland Park, IL
Acquired: 137th overall, 2012 Draft | Contract expires in 2016 (RFA)
Carrick impressed with his play in the NHL preseason. He got three games of NHL experience at the beginning of the season, scoring one goal. Though he looked overwhelmed at times, the talent was clearly on display. He kept up the scoring display in the AHL, but has had some injuries as well. At the WJC, he didn't get much powerplay time, but performed admirably at even strength, leading his team in plus-minus. He was recalled back to DC in January, taking third-pairing job from Steve Oleksy.
Potential: Second-pairing offensive defensemanPrevious rank: 9
7. Michael Latta, CHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 215 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: R | Born in: St. Clements, ON
Acquired: Trade from Nashville, 2013 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
This feisty center has made a name for himself in DC after bouncing back and forth a little between Washington and Hershey in the first half of the year. He has faceoff ability and reliable play on defense, as well as good speed and playmaking skills. With him in the middle, the Caps fourth line was arguably more balanced than with other centers. An injury kept him out of action for a few weeks.
Potential: Third-line centerPrevious rank: 7
8. Nate Schmidt, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 194 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: L | Born in: St. Cloud, MN
Acquired: Free agent signing, 2013 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
An offensive defenseman, Schmidt played well in the preseason, which (along with Dmitry Orlov's bad fortune) earned him a gig with the Caps early in the season. He didn't look out of place, showing glimpses of the offensive talent that made him one of the NCAA's most feared blueliners, but the recovery of John Erskine forced his re-assignment to Hershey. In the AHL, Schmidt gets a lot of ice time, including powerplay opportunities he didn't receive in DC. In January, he joined the big club again but only to suit up for one game.
Potential: Bottom-four offensive defensemanPrevious rank: 10
9. Madison Bowey, DKelowna (WHL)
Ht: 6'2" | Wt: 203 lbs | Age: 18 | Shoots: R | Born in: Winnipeg, MB
Acquired: 53rd overall, 2013 Draft | Rights expire in 2015
The Winnipeg-native blueliner had a productive first half to the season, staying among league leaders in both goals and points for a defenseman. Earlier in the year, Bowey was named captain of the stacked Kelowna team and went on a hot streak. In my viewings of him, Bowey impressed me with speed and strength though he needs to work on his positioning and finding the right time to join the rush.
Potential: Second-pairing two-way defensemanPrevious rank: 11
10. Chandler Stephenson, CRegina (WHL)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 200 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: L | Born in: Saskatoon, SK
Acquired: 86th overall, 2010 Draft | Rights expire in 2014
Stephenson is another player whose stock rose during the preseason. Stephenson is a smart two-way forward. Though originally considered a left winger, he has found success as a centerman in the WHL with Regina. He is one of the Pats' top players, conducting the team's play with speed and a high hockey IQ, getting assignments in all situations. He plays a lot, especially with the games on the line.
Potential: Third-line two-way forwardPrevious rank: 18
11. Patrick Wey, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'3" | Wt: 210 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: R | Born in: Pittsburgh, PA
Acquired: 115th overall, 2009 Draft | Contract expires in 2015 (RFA)
The Pittsburgh-native defenseman reached a rare achievement this year, playing in his first (and only) NHL game less than a month from his last ECHL game (so far). After a one-game audition with the Capitals in which he looked good in his 13:36 of playing time and minute of penalty killing, he returned to Hershey. A lower-body injury sidelined Wey for a month.
Potential: Third-pairing defensive defensemanPrevious rank: 14
12. Tomas Kundratek, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'2" | Wt: 200 lbs | Age: 24 | Shoots: R | Born in: Prerov, CZE
Acquired: Trade from NY Rangers, 2012 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Kundratek didn't show much in the preseason, so he started the first year of his new contract in Hershey. He missed a few games as a healthy scratch due to tight competition on defense for the Bears. Shortly after getting a spot in the line-up, Kundratek suffered a torn ACL and underwent surgery that may sideline him until the end of the season. Kundratek played in just seven games in the AHL this season.
Potential: Bottom-four offensive defensemanPrevious rank: 8
13. Garrett Mitchell, RWHershey (AHL)
Ht: 5'10" | Wt: 188 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: R | Born in: Regina, SK
Acquired: 175th overall, 2009 Draft | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Mitchell started the season looking a step slower compared to his old self, both in NHL preseason and AHL. Even though he fought more, his overall physical game and intensity-- which had allowed him to get goals and points on the forecheck, weren't where it used to be. He missed a few games due to an unknown ailment, but then returned to the line-up. Later it became known that Mitchell played with a shoulder injury that required potentially season-ending surgery.
Potential: Fourth-line energy forwardPrevious rank: 12
14. Thomas DiPauli, C/LWNotre Dame (NCAA)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 189 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: L | Born in: Woodbridge, IL
Acquired: 100th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2016
DiPauli was a surprise pick for Team USA at the World Juniors, but at the tournament he proved it wasn't a mistake. DiPauli embraced his fourth-line role and contributed offensively with a couple of good offensive chances every game. His defensive game was strong as well. DiPauli still looks for an extended role in Notre Dame; the sophomore has been mostly playing on the Fighting Irish fourth line. He's also had a couple of injuries that kept him out of the action.
Potential: Fourth-line energy forwardPrevious rank: 16
15. Zach Sanford, CWaterloo (USHL)
Ht: 6'3" | Wt: 190 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: L | Born in: Auburn, NH
Acquired: 61st overall, 2013 Draft | Rights expire in 2018
Sanford started the year off slowly, adjusting to the USHL coming from the lower-tier EJHL (now a part of USPHL). Due to his underwhelming production, Sanford didn't get the call to Team USA for the World Junior "A" Challenge -- an analogue of the WJC for players not in major junior or college leagues. He's improved since then, becoming a big-time producers for one of the league's top teams, Waterloo Black Hawks.
Potential: Second-line two-way forwardPrevious rank: 15
16. Christian Djoos, DBrynas (SHL)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 161 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Goteborg, SWE
Acquired: 195th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2014
Djoos had a slow start offensively with just one point in his first 29 games, but before leaving for WJC he posted a three-point game. At World Juniors, Djoos seemed to regain his confidence, participating in both of Sweden's goals in the gold medal game (both on the powerplay). Upon his return, Djoos was bumped up to the first pairing due to some injuries on the Brynas back-end. Just like last year, the small blueliner looks to finish the year off strong.
Potential: Third-pairing defensemanPrevious rank: 20
17. Cameron Schilling, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'2" | Wt: 205 lbs | Age: 25 | Shoots: L | Born in: Carmel, IN
Acquired: Free agent signing, 2012 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Schilling has been one of the key pieces for the Bears, being one of just three players who dressed for all 45 of Hershey's games so far this year. One area where Schilling made a leap compared to last year is the rough stuff. He began a year with AHL preseason fight and has had 73 penalty minutes (including 22 in one of the rivalry games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) -- more than he had in the full season a year ago.
Potential: Third-pairing defensive defensemanPrevious rank: 13
18. Tyler LewingtonMedicine Hat (WHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 195 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Sherwood Park, AB
Acquired: 204th overall, 2013 Draft | Rights expire in 2015
Lewington turned some heads at the NHL Draft Combine, where he dominated some workout categories. So it was very strange to see the middleweight defenseman fall at the Draft day. Anyway, the Caps seemed to be more than happy with selecting him in the seventh round. This year, he's found some offense with Medicine Hat to go along with his usual physical defensive play. Washington's director of scouting, Ross Mahoney, also praised Lewington's hard-working attitude.
Potential: Bottom-pairing defensemanPrevious rank: Outside of top-20
19. Jaynen Rissling, DCalgary (WHL)
Ht: 6'4" | Wt: 223 lbs | Age: 20 | Shoots: L | Born in: Edmonton, AB
Acquired: 197th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2014
Rissling stepped up his offensive play after returning to WHL's Calgary for one more year though he was eligible to play in Hershey. "Hershey is a strong club," Caps' director of amateur scouting told Hockey Prospect Radio. "It has a lot of veterans on that club and we're looking at what's best for the development of our young players. In this case we thought that going back to Calgary, being a captain and playing in all situations would be very good for him."
Potential: Bottom-pairing defensemanPrevious rank: Outside of top-20
20. Caleb Herbert, CMinnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 195 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: R | Born in: Bloomington, MN
Acquired: 142nd overall, 2010 Draft | Rights expire in 2015
After a frustrating sophomore season, Caleb Herbert started another year with Minnesota-Duluth slowly, but he gained ground as the season wore on, taking back consistent top-six duties after bouncing up and down the line-up and becoming one of three Bulldogs on the list for Hobey Baker Award fan vote. The sharpshooting versatile forward is expected to return to complete his college career next season.
Potential: Fourth-line two-way centerPrevious rank: 19
  • Josh Carey

    Woo. Thank you Fedor.

  • CSA

    I’m not familiar with any organizations prospect depth chart. But we sure as hell don’t have many C’s on that list. Heres to hoping we lock up Grabo!

  • Freedoooom

    Burakovsky is the 2nd best prospect the Capitals have…

    He played better in the WJC this year than Forsberg last year, all the while Burakovsky was playing 3rd line with a coach that seemed to love to bench him.

  • JH

    No big stay-at-home d-men on the list. Can’t Kuzya play Center as well?

  • Josh Carey

    Can we expect Barber to try and play next season?

  • sam rosen

    What about garret Haar? He is wrecking in the WAHL with Portland winterhawks. Hes averaging like .7 points per game… just saying

  • sam rosen

    I meant WHL. I hate auto correct

  • Chris Cerullo

    Well Rissling is but his potential to get much better is meh

  • JH

    Good catch. But he’s clearly not going to see the inside of Verizon Center from the ice any time soon. I like our prospects. Hopefully they won’t all be traded away for Ryan Miller….

  • Fedor

    Rissling has been pointed out. Wey and Schilling, too, both are NCAA d-men, typically college d-men are less rough-and-tumble but more consistent and aware and mobile. Wey is my favourite. Also, Lewington.

    He can, but using Kuzya at center is poor asset management.

  • Fedor

    Depends fully on him. I don’t have a slightest clue, to be honest. But Miami has been far from world-beaters this year, if this could in any way affect his decision.

  • Fedor

    Haar is in that just out of top-20 category (with Galiev, Heinrich, Pinho, Deschamps). I rank him slightly below Lewington and Rissling.

  • Fedor

    Latta, Stephenson, Herbert, Sanford (the latter is I think four years away), that’s pretty much it.

  • Fedor

    My pleasure.

  • Jack Conness

    Awesome stuff Fedor. I always love reading up on the system. Great job and thanks!

  • Rob W.

    Im really excited about Bowey, Sanford is also an interesting prospect it just stinks we have to wait a while for him to develop

  • deb

    Thank you for the Hershey Bears players thumbs up..at the last Caps game I attended. I ran into a couple that felt all that Hershey has sent up are goons..I totally disagree..I feel alot of players that Hershey contributes are very talented.

  • Daniel Walker

    All the talk and the hype about Galiev for the past couple years and he isn’t even our top 20? Is it time to give up on this guy as potentially being a legitimate NHL goal scorer (or being an NHL’er at all)?

  • Fedor

    To further illustrate your point: Who’s the last goon to go through Hershey on his way to DC? DJ King was acquired from STL for Della Rovere, Aaron Volpatti was claimed from VAN via waivers, Tom Wilson never played a game for the Bears due to CHL/NHL agreement. Joel Rechlicz played in just a couple of regular season games.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I said in the comment thread of the Summer Prospect rankings that Barber, and Schmidt were the ones to watch… I called that one. A shame the USA didn’t have a better showing at the WJC, can’t quite blame them though, as they only had like 3 returning players from the Gold Medal team from last year.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Two very important questions, Fedor.

    1) Can you elaborate on what you thought of Burakovsky’s performance in the WJC’s? I thought he was one of the best players on the ice in the gold medal game. His stick handling and skating ability has seemed to really blossom over the last year.

    2) What is the deal with Tyler Lewington’s hair? He looks like George Washington.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    He’s only 22, unfortunate for him that he’s been bitten by the injury bug this year. In his limited ice time, he’s been okay for the Bears. He’s deadly from the “Ovi spot” on the PP too.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Also Grubauer’s potential is listed at “Average to below-average starter”…

    I’ll disagree there, I’ve been watching him since he played for Germany in the WJC that were held in Buffalo, I honestly believe after all is said and done he’ll be better than Holtby and Neuvirth (after a few years of seasoning in the AHL).

  • Fedor

    I think Burakovsky did well on the PP, but got too little ES TOI to make any kind of conclusion that’d be backed up by facts. Yes, he’s good with the puck on the rush — we knew that. But I didn’t see anything else standing out in his game. Good shot, good speed, good stick handling, but we knew all of that. His play for Erie could actually be more telling in other aspects of the game. For example, he skates hard to back check, I like that.

  • Fedor

    I think Neuvirth right now is below average starter, and I think Gru will be a little better than him, not as good as Holts.

    Also I think Grubi is a safe bet to actually reach the potential.

  • Josh Carey

    I’d disagree he’s better than Wilson. Unless your argument is that it goes Wilson, Burakovsky, Kuzya. Wilson would be putting up crazy numbers in the OHL if he were there, and he would have probably done the same in the WJC had he gone. Just unfortunate he is underutilized.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I’ve always viewed Holtby (and I’m a #1 Bears sweater short of being his biggest proponents) as above average, but shaky and can sometimes let in flukey goals. Sort of inconsistent. Grubauer on the other hand seems much more technically sound, even as being as young as he is. His play impressed me while being thrown into the starter’s role, without a full AHL season under his belt. I think Gru will fall into the above average range, he reminds me of Jimmy Howard, rather than Tukka Rask. Someone who might not win you a game, but if you surround him with a solid team he won’t lose them either.

  • Fedor
  • yv

    According to this excellent job by Fedor, Caps have set of wingers for the second line and potentially full sets for 3d and 4th lines. Kuzya would be on first LW and a lot of future bottom 4 Dmen. It is not bad for perspectives, but still again no prospects for second line center and top two-four Dmen. So, that would be a goal to find them during next draft or through trades. And this just show importance of getting Grabo to sign to hold the position until new comer(s).

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Howard and Detroit are having an off-year, both are much better than their current standings/statistics suggest.

    Hiller is above average on a great team.

  • brian!

    Heck of a write-up, thanks for putting in the effort! Here’s hoping these guys can make a name for themselves professionally.

  • Eric Schulz

    I would guess that Wilson has the higher floor, Burakovsky has the higher ceiling, so it’s arguable. However, it seems like the ranking isn’t based on ceiling (since Sanford is at 15, Latta is at 7, despite the former having a higher potential; 2nd line vs 3rd line, respectively), but rather it’s based on how close they are to [regular] NHL action. In which case, Wilson is clearly ahead of Burakovsky; Kuznetsov is ahead of Wilson because he was READY for NHL action probably 2 years ago, he just didn’t come over.

  • Eric Schulz

    Well, it’s not like we are trying to draft guys for specific roles; you just draft the best player. So, that’s what we should keep doing. You just have to hope that somebody develops. I have a lot of problems with GMGM, but drafting isn’t one of them (beyond maybe a few nitpicks).
    Also, as far as 2nd line C, I wonder if Johansson could handle it; I would think with a top line of Kuznetsov – Backstrom – Ovechkin, we could put Fehr and Brouwer on Johansson’s wing (I’m thinking of last year’s Brouwer, not the sub-par version this year; could easily be Ward instead, if Brouwer doesn’t rebound, or Wilson may be the one to get most excited about because of upside). I’d love to keep Grabovski, of course, but I’d nominate Johansson as the 2nd choice, I think. Oh, maybe throw Erat into the 2nd line conversation?

  • Jack Conness

    That really doesn’t add up to an NHL’er. His future looks just like the stock market right now.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, I would say Howard is above average; that doesn’t mean he will always have an above average year. I think he means that he’s above average overall, not just so far this year.

  • Bryan Carnahan

    Tom Wilson did play 3 games for the Hershey Bears in last season’s Calder Cup playoffs, but I get your point about him not being able to play with them during the regular season.

  • Fedor

    Yeah, thanks for the correction. Forgot about the spring try-out.

  • Fedor

    I think I can easily name 10 goalies better than Howard. Let me try: Lundqvist, Quick, Rinne, Rask, Miller, Niemi, Price, Bishop, Varlamov, Bobrovsky. Then there are Anderson, Crawford, Mason.
    Everything from 10 to 20 in the NHL is pretty much average, mathematically.

  • Fedor

    The ranking is based on combination of potential and probability of reaching potential. You brought a good example. Sanford has a high ceiling, but I don’t think his odds to reach it are very low. Meanwhile, Latta is almost there. And that makes difference.

  • Eric Schulz

    To me, 14 and above is “above average.” Obviously, if I think a guy is right at 14, I may not call him above average, but I don’t think I’d go as wide as 10-20. I wouldn’t go above average, average, below average; I’d go elite, above average, average, below average, bad.
    I feel like I’d rather have Howard than Niemi, Bishop, Crawford, or Mason, at least for this year (not taking into account age, since I feel like Bishop can still get better). Not so sure about Bobrovsky either; I’d like to see a bit more of a track record of success before I feel confident.

    Also, before this year, I don’t think you would’ve put Varlamov above Howard; are you willing to trust that 55-some games is more indicative than the entire rest of their careers? Rinne is injured right now; I’d rather have Howard.

  • Eric Schulz

    My point with Rinne being injured is that it’s a fluid list. I hate hyperbole more than anyone else (according to announcers, everybody in the NFL is either the best, one of the best, or one of the most underrated. Nobody is bad, overrated, or even average), but in this case, I don’t have a problem with perhaps a few more than 14 guys being called above average, even though it may not seem logical; few guys are so consistently good that they have a 4+ year stretch as a top-10 or better goalie. Besides, even “average” isn’t as straight-forward as you may presume. If you find the league average save percentage (even just for starters), you may find more, or less, than 15 guys above that. To me, when I call a guy “above average,” I mostly mean that the team he is on is not worried about upgrading. To some degree that may be not terribly accurate, if you want to quibble with semantics here, but I think “above average” connotes, properly, that it would be hard to upgrade on him, whereas “average” implies that you could find a guy to replace him easily (so should not overpay), and “below average” means it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

  • Fedor

    I always thought Howard is quite a bit overrated to be honest, or rather benefitting from a team that has been making playoffs every year he’s there.

  • Eric Schulz

    He’s pretty clearly on a very good (and well coached) team, so perhaps. Without watching them more closely, I figure I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. There aren’t a heck of a lot of writers/analysts in hockey that I trust are great enough at evaluating these things (the bigger ones take in too much, and the ones that follow certain teams tend to be biased, understandably so; perhaps my own ego prevents me from trusting some too. For instance, I trust Robert Mays’ and Bill Barnwell’s football knowledge enough that if my own judgement disagrees with theirs, I will re-evaluate and likely change my opinion. I’m more knowledgeable about hockey, so less trusting in most areas). But I don’t know, I tend to listen, overall, to less hockey stuff now (sticking mostly to this blog, and watching games, because I can’t find a lot of really great stuff that I like), so I can’t talk as knowledgeably about over- or underrated. I’d say the problem, as far as his overall ability, is where you’d place him. If, for instance, you cut all starting goalies into 3 tiers, I’d probably have him in the 2nd, but on the higher level of that 2nd. I can understand calling him “average” because he’s in the middle tier, but I think he’s most similar to perhaps Antti Niemi or Corey Crawford, as far as you can win a Cup with him, not “because of” or “in spite of” him. If a guy is a legit starter like that, I tend to say “above average” because there are a lot of “starters” that aren’t of that caliber, but start due to teams that don’t have any other option, and there are really more than 30 starters, if you count 1A/1B situations (I’d say St Louis qualifies). I tend to count all NHL goalies more than just starters, because not all teams have legit starters; I’d guess about half to a third of the teams in the league don’t have a guy who is clearly the man; perhaps I’m giving him too much credit there. Also, with me it’s hard to remove context and contract. I believe he’s fairly paid, so as far as bang for the buck, he’s probably above average.

  • Eric Schulz

    On 2nd look, he may be a little overpaid. 3 of the last 4 years he’s had a save percentage at or above .920 though. I’d say that’s above average.