Goaltending Logjam in Carolina

By Parker Neale

The Carolina Hurricanes have a surplus of goaltenders in their system. They recently acquired Kevin Weekes, another “potential” number one man from Tampa Bay. He had become disgruntled over the fact that he wasn’t getting any playing time behind the red-hot Nikolai Khabibulin.

In return, the Lightning receive forwards Chris Dingman and Shane Willis. Dingman has yet to provide any offensive punch at the NHL level during his career. However, you do know what you are getting, a big, physical presence. Willis is suffering through a season-long sophomore slump after enjoying a terrific rookie campaign last year. He appears to have the offensive tools and a change of scenery may be the cure to all that ails him.

Now, back to the matter at hand. What do you do with all of the goaltenders on the Hurricanes depth chart? Irbe, Barrasso and Weekes all command quality playing time. Jean-Marc Pelletier and Tyler Moss are putting up solid numbers in Lowell. Rob Zepp, probably ticketed as the “goaltender of the future” for Carolina, has had to spend the season in the ECHL as there was no more room above. Randy Petruk seems to be knocking on the AHL’s door as well. And, Daniel Boisclair was selected in the sixth round of the past NHL Entry Draft.

How will this play itself out in this way with the big club? Irbe will maintain his status as the number one goaltender (he has a long-term contract while Barrasso doesn’t). Weekes will assume the role of quality back-up that Barrasso has been this season, filling the void that existed in the past. Then, due to his youth, Weekes has the time to prove that he is ready to be a number one ‘tender at the NHL level. Barrasso will be moved to a playoff-bound team searching for goaltending depth before the trade deadline.

Further down the ranks, the two individuals that appear to be victimized most by the Weekes pickup are Moss and Pelletier. They are 26 and 24 years-old, respectively, an age bracket where a goaltender’s game should have matured enough that he is knocking on the NHL’s door. However, neither of these two appear to have reached that point.

Zepp should remain as the goaltender of the future and will, probably find himself in Lowell next year to see how he stands up to AHL competition. Randy Petruk is having a solid year for Florida in the ECHL. However, management seems reluctant to give him an AHL shot, which could point back to the depth that exists. Meanwhile, Boisclair remains a long shot, but has plenty of time to prove his worth at the ECHL or AHL level once his junior career is complete. Or, if he has not been signed to an NHL contract yet, the Hurricanes may elect to not offer him one, leaving him to re-enter the 2003 draft.

The 2001-2002 stats (up to 03/10/02) for these individuals are listed below:

Irbe: (38 GP, 15-15-7, 2 SO, 2.75 GAA, 0.896 SV%)

Barrasso: (34 GP, 13-12-5, 2 SO, 2.61 GAA, 0.906 SV%)

Weekes: (19 GP, ?)

Moss (AHL): (38 GP, 17-14-7, 1 SO, 2.51 GAA, 0.929 SV%)

Pelletier (AHL): (32 GP, 16-11-2, 0 SO, 2.84 GAA, 0.913 SV%)

Zepp (ECHL): (13 GP, 6-5-2, 0 SO, 3.33 GAA, 0.902 SV%)

Petruk (ECHL): (45 GP, 26-14-4, 3 SO, 2.65 GAA, 0.913 SV%)

Boisclair (QMJHL): (25 GP, 9-10-2, 1 SO, 3.81 GAA, 0.881 SV%)