"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin
One of the founding fathers of the United States hit the nail on the head. And his words of wisdom hold especially true, when it comes to the future goaltending situation for the New York Rangers.
You may be shaking your head in disbelief right about now.
How can this be, when the Blueshirts have the King, Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist, between the pipes?
Well, here's how:
Lundqvist, 30, has averaged nearly 67 starts per season in his NHL career, which began during the 2005-06 season (the last time hockey had to come back from a lockout). That's a ton of work. As the franchise goalie, he absolutely deserves to get the lion's share of the assignments.
But, over the course of time, all those minutes will begin to take their toll. Even with an athlete as physically and mentally fit as Lundqvist. Plus, with 35-year-old Martin Biron as the backup (albeit quite dependable at his job for now) signed through the 2014 season, you can begin to see where there could be some cracks in the Rangers goaltending armor.
And those cracks can become crevasses when you factor in the player development part of the equation. While General Manager Glen Sather and Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark have done a wonderful job filling the shelves with defensemen and forwards, the goaltending situation down on the farm is dicey at best.
Who's in net throughout the system right now?
Leslie Treff at hockeysfuture.com breaks it down:
Cam Talbot, 25
Talbot started the 2011-12 campaign sharing the starting netminding role with Chad Johnson, but as the regular season went on, Talbot showed that he should be carrying most of the load. He had an excellent spring, posting two shutouts, a 1.17 goals- against average and a 95.9 save percentage in his last five regular-season starts. Talbot then recorded two shutouts in the first two games of the playoffs.
So far this season: A 2.42 goals against average and a .929 save percentage in eight games with the Connecticut Whale.
Jason Missiaen, 22
Missiaen is 6'8 and 220 lbs, a very large figure between the pipes. With good lateral movement and handling of the puck, Missiaen spent last season between the pipes for the ECHL Greenville Road Warriors. He is competing for a spot on the AHL Connecticut Whale this fall, and is expected to get the backup role at that level for the 2012-13 season. Still only 22 years old, Missiaen is still learning his position, and is not expected to be NHL ready for several years.
So far this season: A 5.38 goals against average and an .844 save percentage in four games with the Connecticut Whale.
Scott Stajcer, 21
Stajcer had a devastating hip injury that shortened his 2010-11 season, so he was returned to junior last season to get more experience and development. Expected to begin the 2012-13 hockey season in either the AHL or ECHL, Stajcer is still working on staying square to the shooter and lateral movement. Although Stajcer has been in the Rangers system for more than three years, he still is only 21 years old and will be given several more years to develop within the organization.
So far this season: A 2.61 goals against average and a .913 save percentage in three games with the Greenville Road Warriors.
Not exactly awe inspiring stats throughout the pipeline.
So what does this mean?
The absence of sure-fire goaltending talent throughout the organization leaves Broadway's team in a vulnerable position down the line. And, as the populous of Ranger Nation has witnessed these past seven season, having a top-notch man behind the mask is of paramount importance. Where would the Rangers have been all these years—and right now—without King Henrik?
Perish the thought.
Sooner or later, number 30 will have to abdicate his throne. And it could take years to develop his successor.
That's why the Blueshirts must begin their search for their next number-one goaltender as soon as the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Time waits for no one.
Not even a King.
You can have all the prospects in the world up front and on the back line. But if you don't have the next franchise guy to own the 6'x4' space, you're in a *&^% load of trouble.
As Ben Franklin said, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
I welcome your opinions on the subject.
Please Note: This year's stats for Rangers goaltending prospects courtesy of eliteprospects.com
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