Hockey’s Future recently talked to Ohio State University and U.S. World Junior netminder Joe Palmer. The OSU sophomore is a graduate of the U.S. National Development Team Program in Ann Arbor, MI, which also produced fellow Blackhawk draftees Patrick Kane, Josh Unice, Richard Lavin and Jack Skille. Selected in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL draft (96th overall), the native of Utica, NY turns 20 in February.
The 6’1, 205-pound Palmer has appeared in 20 games for the young Buckeye club this year with a 3.21 GAA and .888 save percentage. Last year, with a more competitive team in front of him, Palmer’s GAA was 2.96, with a .890 save percentage. While in Prague with the World Junior squad, Palmer backed up Plymouth Whaler goalie Jeremy Smith (NAS).
Personable, well-spoken and humble, Palmer talked about his experiences with the U.S. National Program, Ohio State and two Blackhawk prospect camps.
HF: What was it like playing for the U.S. in Prague?
JP: Well, it was just a great honor and a great feeling to represent your country and put that U.S. jersey back on.
HF: You got into two games over there. How did it go?
JP: One game was in the third period against Finland. I wasn’t expecting to go in, so I was pretty relaxed. We were up 5-0, so they put me in. But being relaxed, I wasn’t really ready to go in and I didn’t play as well as I would have liked. We still won the game, but I felt like I could have played better.
The other game, I played the second and third periods of the bronze medal game against Russia. We were down 3-0, and we still lost the game, but I thought I played pretty well in that game.
HF: How are things going at Ohio State this year? Looks like you guys are having a bit of a rough go of it.
JP: We’ve struggled a bit. We’ve got a lot of good guys in the room. But we’re young this year, and I think we’re missing a couple of key role players.
HF: You’ve obviously played some against your fellow Blackhawk prospect Nathan Davis (Miami of Ohio). Can you tell us your impressions of him?
JP: We’ve played them three times but I haven’t played against him this year. I know he’s been hurt and when he wasn’t, one of the times I was over in Prague. He’s very highly skilled. Obviously, he’s a great skater. You don’t like seeing him come up ice at you, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s got some good teammates to dish the puck off to either. So if he doesn’t burn you, one of them will. I got to know him up at prospect camps in Chicago and he’s a real quality individual.
HF: Have you had much chance to work with Stephane Waite (Chicago Blackhawk goalie coach)?
Palmer: Yes, I have and it’s a real privilege. He always has a lot of good advice. I send him tape of my games here and he gives me feedback on what I’m doing right, what I need to keep working on. So it’s good to stay in touch with him. I’ve really enjoyed the two prospect camps I’ve been to. And I think I’ve played pretty well in both of them.
HF: What was the U.S. Prospect Camp in Lake Placid like this past summer?
JP: Well you’ve got 40 guys there, the best players in the country and some of them are among the best players in the world. Guys like Patrick Kane. It was great because I got to be around a lot of the guys I knew from the program in Ann Arbor.
HF: Are you looking forward to going pro?
JP: Well, yes, absolutely. But that’s obviously up to someone else. If the Blackhawks want me in the NHL or in the AHL that’s up to them, but I’m definitely looking forward to that opportunity if it presents itself.