Niemi

 

To be short and sweet, it’s time for another School of Block fantasy mailbag! So head on over to the forums and drop us your burning and most pertinent fantasy goalie questions. And even though I didn’t have a full-blown diatribe for this week, there were five interesting fantasy topics that caught my eye last week, as I continue to wait with great anticipation for August to expire.

 

1. Clint Malarchuk is now the goalie consultant (not coach) for the Atlanta Thrashers, so he’s working with their goalies at all levels. I suggest reading this story that discusses his influence on two former students – Roberto Luongo and Pascal Leclaire. Both of those goalies are nothing like Ondrej Pavelec. But the development paths for all of them, in relation to being coached by Malarchuk, have interesting timing. He helped Luongo reach that “elite” status in Florida, he helped Leclaire establish himself as a legitimate workhorse starter in Columbus, and now he’s poised to put Pavelec on the map as a starter as well. What makes Malarchuk successful is his ability to understand those goalies, his timing on when to convince them to make changes, suggest and implement changes. Will he be able to get through to Pavelec and make changes to his game in this manner? How will Pavelec take the pending critiques and potential changes? The talent ceiling is high, but the floor is also very low. Either way, I love the move to bring in Malarchuk and I think it draws a pretty nice picture for Pavelec’s fantasy value to start this season.

 

2. Check out this highlight video of recently drafted New Jersey Devils goalie Scott Wedgewood. Taken in the third round, the current Plymouth Whalers goalie surprised a lot of scouts around the league with his small size but big heart. Now search some video or scouting reports on Jeff Frazee. Both are considered “smaller” goalies. Both are clearly skilled. But the manner in which Wedgewood stops the puck is, in my opinion, much more refined and effective for today’s NHL. Wedgewood will be developing at a faster rate than Frazee due to playing juniors as opposed to NCAA hockey. And although this is merely a hypothetical, if you were the Devils’ director of player development, who would you see as a more potent prospect in a few more years? Things are already difficult for Frazee thanks to Mike McKenna, but if he doesn’t separate himself from the pack soon, there might be another goalie devouring some of his playing time in the AHL.

 

3. Every journalist and hockey fan will tell you that cliché answers during an interview are frustrating. But in my opinion, it’s a fun challenge to pay close attention and decipher the ones that have more substance behind it. For example, my interview with Florida Panthers prospect Marc Cheverie last week at the DU Pro Alumni Camp. When asked about the impact Alex Salak’s move to Sweden had on him (around 2:30), he responded with a very solid and professional answer and said it didn’t really matter. But the competitive goaltender, especially one in his situation, will always feel a big boost of confidence from such a move. It not only opens up a spot for him to win in training camp, but it means the organization feels strongly enough in his abilities that he could handle Salak’s role behind Jacob Markstrom. This is part of being a goalie scout – knowing when an answer is just “professional” and when you know there’s something more under the surface. Salak to Sweden is exciting news for Cheverie, so realize the positive mental influence it will have on his play heading into training camp. Just when his fantasy value was starting to take a hit, it goes back in the right direction. Just another example of how randomly things can change.

 

4. Another week went by with no answers for Antti Niemi. It’s just perpetuating the trend in a new marketplace, as even junior-aged goalies passed over by other teams are getting invited to training camps. Peter Delmas will attend Montreal’s training camp, while Jason Missiaen is now attending Columbus’ camp. Add to that the number of teams passing on all those UFA veterans like Jose Theodore and Manny Legace and the market for goalies is getting more saturated and foggy. But Niemi could still sign with a couple of teams. The Islanders are the only team that makes true logical sense, but remember, it relies solely on Rick DiPietro’s health. That’s the true issue, for there’s a big difference between being “ready in time for camp” and actually playing well enough to win close games in October. I could be wrong about Niemi ending up in Europe, but sooner or later, if things stay this way, it will be the only option. No matter how much he doesn’t want to play in Europe, it’s better than nothing.

 

5. I’m starting to wonder about the impact Twitter could have on an NHL goaltender heading into training camp. I can only imagine what it’s like to get that big chance, get swept up in the chaos of being acquired by a team that needs a starting goalie and then be rewarded with a nice contract because of it. At the end of the day, pro goalies are humans – they want more glory, more followers and more interest in their game. They want to interact with fans, they want to say things to the world. Believe me when I say that Twitter can be very time consuming. It’s a place to speak your mind and get things off your mind in a matter that draws more people to you. But like everything else, people can get under your skin or pique your interest in a hurry. It may not be a subject worth writing about, but Twitter plays a role in the pro hockey player’s social life and ultimately leads to moments where it can negatively (or positively) influence focus, work ethic and mental clarity. For example, if a pro goalie is talking about “blocking” someone, that means he’s being annoyed by that person more than once. And if a goalie is being annoyed, he’s being criticized and distracted from hockey. No matter how professional a goalie happens to be, everything he reads on Twitter directed his way will emotionally influence him in some way, shape or form. It’s just something to keep in the back of your mind as more and more players join the Twittersphere.

 

6. Another week has gone by and still nothing official from the NHL regarding the new leg pad and chest protector “form fitting” measurements. So to keep this interesting topic afloat, remember that more than half of the current NHL goalies are going to have the liberty to wear even bigger pads, while all of the smaller ones will be forced to trim in all areas. Remember that the new measurements no longer measure the length of the leg pad, but the distance and space a leg pad can take up depending on the size of that goalie’s legs. It’s a totally new system of measurement and a totally different way of looking at pad restrictions. Here come more behemoth monsters, there go the smaller guys. Dan Ellis tweeted this morning that his new pads are only a half-inch shorter, so even a 6-foot-0, 188-pound goalie is barely being affected.

 


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mike hess said:

SharkMeat
logic Justin...thanks for educating me on the reason for your concerns. I am always amazed at how well baseball has done at keeping the sanctity of the game while all the changes are considered due to competition or rule changes. I agree a bigger net is not the answer so maybe the NHL guru's can give us some of their thoughts? who has and who communicates those discussions to us, the fans in a way we can understand? As a relative newbie, I have only played fantasy hockey for 7 years, I love the game and don't have a great historical perspecitve even though I live in California. smilies/cool.gif
August 24, 2010
Votes: +0

Todd Dmitruk said:

Deets
still don't agree with your logic Justin i still don't agree with you on your point justin, are you a smaller guy by the way? cause you sound like a shorter guy who is upset that bigger goalies will get better opportunities just because they are bigger. but my arguement is that, that is what happens with all positions, what about all of those undersized forwards (i'm thinking of darren haydar as an example) who have never gotten a decent shot at being in the bigs because of their size. it's just the way it is, if a team has to choose between two players of equal skill and speed but one is a few inches taller and say 10 pounds heavier, then who are they going to go with? in most cases pretty much 9 times out of 10 they will go with the bigger stronger player. that is just the nature of the beast, so a smaller goalie will need to be that much better and smarter to get and keep that spot in the lineup a la marty st. louis. it took him years and finally a team giving him a fair shake to show what he could do before he became a household name. i sit here as a flames fan shaking my head wondering why they never gave him a fair shot before trading him away only to see the team he got a chance on beat them for the cup after a huge st.louis goal in overtime in game six. i hate sound like sizeist (not even a word) but if your smaller you have to be that much better and smarter to make it. same would go for smaller goalies that want to compete in a big mans game. same goes for shorter players in the nba, if you have a point guard who is 5 foot something and one who is 6 foot something who have a similar skill set then a team is going to go with the bigger player all the time provided they have the same intangibles such as heart and character.
August 24, 2010
Votes: +1

lok said:

lokguin
... easy.. if they are making the pad size proportional to the goalie, they should just make the net's size proportional to the goalie's size too... then different sized goalies don't have any advantage over each other smilies/wink.gif
August 24, 2010
Votes: -1

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... That's exactly what I'm afraid of ... bigger nets =(

And you are right ... nothing will stop bigger and bigger goalies from stealing jobs from smaller goalies because the bigger guys are not only getting bigger, they are getting faster.

All form-fitting does is give the bigger guys even more of an advantage. Thus making the bigger goalies even more advantageous.

It's almost like they did it on purpose:

"What a perfect way to get the 'bigger nets' discussion going than by form-fitting pads to a goalie's size! Soon all goalies will be beasts and they will be so big under the new goalie pad rules that nets will HAVE to be bigger!!" -NHL
August 24, 2010
Votes: +1

mike hess said:

SharkMeat
pads Ok, Justin...now I get it....smilies/angry.gif I guess having already taken the slipery slope..we will have to hope they go back to fixed sizes of pads...but that won't change the increasing size of goalies...so maybe they need to increase the size of the net to provide equal opportunity to scoresmilies/grin.gif Mike
August 24, 2010
Votes: +1

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... I don't think I'm being as clear as I can be. Let me try again.

Form-fitting gear shrinks ONLY the smaller goalies. More than half of the current NHL goalies could potentially be allowed to wear BIGGER pads. This is what leads to faulty logic called a slippery slope. It starts off as a decent rule but it ends up getting worse and worse.

Remember that the NHL no longer measures the size of leg pads. They measure the distance a leg pad can reach depending on the height and measurements of a goalie's leg. They are measuring space, not equipment. The taller the leg, the higher their pads are allowed to reach.

This is far worse in the long-term compared to the old 38" restriction on leg pads.

If there is a goalie that is 6-foot-6 ... say a Ben Bishop for example ... he was never allowed to wear pads bigger than 38" inches .... now there's a good possibility he might be able to wear 39" or even 40" pads. His extra large chest protector probably fit him perfectly ... but form-fitting will allow him to wear an even bigger chest protector.

At least when it was clean-cut 38" across the board, a smaller goalie could have worn longer leg pads but still taken up less space in the net. The leg pad is not the only thing that makes up a goalie's presence in the net. A 6-foot-0 goalie wearing 38" leg pads is still much smaller than a 6-foot-5 goalie wearing the same 38" pads.

The form-fitting rule is NOT GOOD. It will just further perpetuate the trend of teams signing and drafting bigger and bigger goalies .... thus leading to them being allowed to wear bigger and bigger pads. More net is going to get filled up because the goalies are bigger. It's a stupid rule and I'm surprised more people aren't frustrated with it.

At least when a 6-foot-0 or 5-foot-11 goalie was allowed to wear taller pads, it was a much smaller frame in there scrambling around. I'd rather have a bunch of smaller goalies scrambling and swimming in bigger pads as opposed to a bunch of 6-foot-5 goalies IN EVEN BIGGER PADS standing there and taking away the acrobatic fun of being a goalie.

The rule is stupid. What's next? Saying a goalie can no longer be taller than 6-foot-5??? Because that's what direction they are heading in.

August 24, 2010
Votes: -1

Todd Dmitruk said:

Deets
form fitted equipment i agree exactly with what mike hess said. it's the same for players who are not goalies, if they are smaller then they have to be that much better to play. same would go for goalies with form fitted equipment, a smaller goalie would have to be that much quicker and technically sound as he wouldn't take up as much of the net. but teams right now i'm sure would draft bigger goalies if their abilities were the same as a smaller one so really justin your arguement is moot.
August 23, 2010
Votes: +0

mike hess said:

SharkMeat
shutting down the scoring Let me see if I have this right...the rules were changed to open up the game, speed it up, less defensive hockey and allow more scoring. The response has been bigger and bigger pads by the goalies and yes bigger and bigger goalies by the teams. The shrink to fit pads approach sounds reasonable to me as you are not going to change the move to bigger goalies by the teams, it is a natural extension of developing talent.
August 23, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... What does "making goalies wear stuff that fits" solve? Like I said below, it's just faulty logic to have form-fitting gear. It leads teams to draft and sign goalies that are bigger and bigger. Only the best "smaller" goalies in the NHL will survive. There's no point in trimming a jersey if the goalie is 7 feet tall and 250 pounds. Form-fitting is a bad idea!! Tapering and trimming isn't a big enough impact to make a difference and sooner or later goalies will start getting hurt. Jerseys have been trimmed already. Ryan Miller looked bigger in the Olympics because the IIHF has different rules for gear sizing. He was still within the legal size limits. It didn't make a difference anyways...Canada still won.
August 23, 2010
Votes: +0

derek said:

buck0198
Pic above Speaking of equipment, look how baggy Niemi
s jersey is...

Make them wear stuff that fits...esp these stick thin guys like Ryan Miller. I am a huge Miller fan but after the USA/CANADA game in the olympics you could see just how big his equipment really was.
August 23, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... It doesn't matter what they do to equipment anymore because it's all "form-fitted" . Now they are just one step away from regulating the height and size of a goalie. If pads are form-fitted, everyone will be drafting 6-foot-3 goalies and above because they are allowed to wear bigger pads. It's a pretty ridiculous move by the NHL if you ask me. They can't continue to taper pads on bigger goalies because it's clearly unfair and dangerous. So the NHL have shot themselves in the foot by going to "form-fitting" rules. That's the whole dilemma of the matter.
August 23, 2010
Votes: -1

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... They need to control the size of the equipment over the entire body; shoulders, blocker, glove, pad width, chest, etc. When a goalie has the angle covered, how % of the net is actually exposed.

Next they have to tackle the strategy of collapsing around the net. With 5 guys & golaie, the odds of scoring a goal are actually slim to none. Unless you deflect it of a leg. If you take out empty net goals & goals off body parts, the goals/game is pathethic in the NHL. Its gotten to the point where a sniper should aim for a d-man's leg rather than the net.
August 23, 2010
Votes: +1
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