There are many reasons why I hail Dobber as the best fantasy analyst on the web; one is that he just gets goaltending. For almost two years I’ve watched him accurately predict a number of goalie situations that has come to fruition. And in the rare instance when I call something before him (like Manny Legace’s downfall), it becomes a memorable fantasy moment for myself. But I can’t even remember half the time Dobber predicts something correctly because it’s such a common occurrence.
His latest fantasy goaltending gem came through a rambling on Sweden’s Jonas Gustavsson. The scouting report on “…the best goalie in the world not playing in North America” is impressive to say the least. I’ve seen him play and I can tell you that one of his best traits is the precision and flexibility of his really long legs and broad shoulders to boot.
He’s like a well-oiled Jason LaBarbera, but with much better balance and faster feet. He’s extremely quick, he’s big in the butterfly and he moves in the crease like a hot knife through warm butter. He’s a lanky kid that will continue to strengthen as time goes on. And if you saw his performances in the World Championships that just ended yesterday, you can see why many European scouts are so high on this guy.
Gustavsson had to join Sweden late and leave the Tre Kronor early in order to tend to his ailing mother, making his performances even more remarkable.
“I’ve never known anyone who’s that strong mentally and is able to block out everything else,” said backup goalie Stefan Liv. “It was nice that we could win the medal for him.”
It’s also worth noting that Liv was thrust into the starting position due to Gustavsson’s absence and played extremely well, helping Sweden win the Bronze Medal and also creating a buzz between North American scouts about his own talent. But compared to Gustavsson, he’s a few years older, a few inches shorter and a few pounds lighter (somehow), so the edge in the fantasy department definitely goes to Gustavsson.
But considering how well he played in the World Championships and all season long for Farjestads in the Swedish Elite League, it’s no surprise that more than half of the NHL teams out there are interested in signing "The Monster" to a cost-efficient contract. He’s basically being touted as the next Henrik Lundqvist, except he’s un-signed and totally up for grabs. The kid is about to cash in for sure and thanks to Dobber, you knew this about a week ago (both from Ramblings as well as through Twitter).
It’s reported that he’s weeding through the 24 teams interested in signing him right now in hopes of making a decision in the next few weeks. Some of the teams that seem to have more of a legitimate shot at landing the Swede would be the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs, just to name a few. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s had some dialogue with the Stars, for they tend to do a pretty good job sealing up the backup spot when it’s needed.
In fact, before Dobber told you about Gustavsson, he mentioned former Colorado College Tigers standout Richard Bachman. I too have spoken about Bachman recently, which means there’s some legitimacy about his chances to play next year for – what do you know – the Stars. What is it with them and backup goalies? Let’s go through the list real quick; Darcy Wakaluk, Mike Torchia, Roman Turek. Marty Turco, Dan Ellis, Mike Smith. Yeah, the backups seem to be getting better and better as time goes on in Big D.
All of a sudden it becomes quite clear that the stars have aligned for Bachman and Gustavsson could be clinched and added to the mix as well. And knowing full well that Tobias Stephan will probably get squeezed out of the equation, and Matt Climie is at least more than a few years away from regular NHL action, it looks like the trend of turning to younger, less-expensive goalies could continue in Dallas.
Bachman is different from the other CC goalies that have graduated this decade. From Ryan Bach to Matt Zaba, none of them compare to the overall “tight flybrid” technique or foot speed of Bachman. Collecting all sorts of accolades here in Colorado, Bachman was destined to leave school early. That’s the other difference – he’s too talented to stick around for two more years.
Bachman is not only next in line on this list but he might also have a clear path to the top. As much as I love Turco, he has been terribly inconsistent over the last two years and the Stars brass is looking for him to prove otherwise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if he’d just stop handling the puck so much and focus more on making saves in front of his net, he’d have the mental focus to make more big-time saves.
But I leave you with this morsel of insight, which comes straight from Dobber’s summer free-agency fantasy outlook:
"Of Fantasy Note – With Stephan possibly gone, there is a good chance that 21-year-old Richard Bachman will step in as backup. Bachman is a former WCHA player of the year and if Marty Turco has another stumble, this kid could surprise you with a lot of strong starts."
Did you read it? Then you have no excuse for being surprised when Bachman pulls it off. Turco finds a way to ‘stumble’ at least once or twice a season, so what leads you to believe it won’t happen again next year? And there you have it; Bachman could get his first taste of NHL action faster than any other goalie from CC.
CRAIG ANDERSON IS A FOOL
I wrote about this situation four weeks ago on the boards and right after I saw Robert Esche (yes, he still plays hockey) allow a slap shot from the blue line with 10 minutes left in the Bronze Medal game, I’m forced to bring it up again. Craig Anderson is an absolute fool for passing up the chance to play for Team USA in the World Championships.
There is no comprehendible reason for using “getting injured” as an excuse not to play. He’s a free agent and he’s supposed to be trying like crazy to secure a chance to be a #1 netminder. Uhh…hello, last time I checked there were more and more teams turning to European goalies and recent draft picks to shore up spots in the NHL…not pompous wimps afraid of getting hurt in a tournament that doesn’t even match the intensity of the NHL Playoffs.
Playing in the Worlds would have given Anderson the perfect chance to bask in the spotlight and maybe shine and steal a game or two … something that Esche and Al Montoya failed to do. But refusing to play just makes him seem like he thought he was too good for the tournament. If he expects to find a welcome mat in an NHL city waiting for him in an empty crease this summer, he’s sorely mistaken.
Look, even Ray Emery played a year in Russia and was able to prove he’s still capable of playing in the NHL next year…and now the Flyers are this close to taking a chance and signing him instead of giving Biron another chance. Hey Anderson, you sat on your hands and did nothing … and now we’ll see soon enough where you might end up.
This situation exposes a real problem when it comes to US-born goaltenders severely lacking in the talent department. Maybe it’s because every other country in the world actually thrives on and embraces every opportunity possible to compete on an international stage. The games are so huge for countries like Switzerland, France, Slovakia, etc. that the players actually gain valuable “playoff-like” experience that makes them much better players and ultimately more valuable assets for NHL teams (see Ville Peltonen for the Panthers).
But when it comes to the premier U-S goalies, you have the likes of Ryan Miller tending to an ankle injury, Rick DiPietro on the shelf for god knows what, Tim Thomas in the playoffs and only Anderson and Esche to choose from. It’s no wonder they fail to snag medals year after year. Slim pickings and a lack of interest will do that to a country, and that’s just more reason to consider Anderson a big fool right now. Good luck trying to find a pick-up game that can match the intensity of the World Championships. Maybe he can create his own character in NHL2009 and get ready for training camp that way.
Be sure to check out The Goalie Guild’s updated BEAST TRACKER throughout the playoffs by clicking the link!