The road to the National Hockey League has been full of starts and stops for Vancouver Canucks prospect goaltender Alexander Auld. The
22-year-old netminder made his NHL debut for one game in 2001-02, his first
year pro. He played seven NHL games last year, and is now called up and has
started two straight games for the Canucks (both at home) against the Colorado
Avalanche and the Carolina Hurricanes.
With both Dan Cloutier and Johan Hedberg currently nursing
injuries, Canucks management called Auld up on December 10th. He got the start
against divisional opponent and league powerhouse Colorado Avalanche the day
after being called up. The 6-foot-4 200lbs Auld did not look out of place, and
was a star in goal that kept the Canucks in the game and earned them a point in
a 1-1 draw.
The only goal Colorado was able to muster was on a chance in
close by sniper Rob Blake. Blake beat Auld over his glove on the near side on a
well placed shot. Auld made 27 saves in his first appearance of the season for
Johan Hedberg was scheduled to start the next game on
December 14th against Carolina but re-injured his wrist in practice which
allowed for Auld to get the next start. Auld shined once again in goal for the
Canucks, allowing only a single goal by Hurricanes forward Eric Staal in a 2-1
overtime win for Vancouver.
With both Cloutier and Hedberg due back shortly, Auld will
be sent back down to the AHL Manitoba Moose in a matter of days. Auld will once
again be the starting goaltender in the AHL and will pick up where he left off.
It shouldn’t be long until Auld becomes a valuable part of
the Canucks roster, as he has the potential to be a starting goaltender in the
NHL. His strong points are his positioning and his size. Since he is bigger
than most goaltenders, Auld uses his size to his advantage to show less of the
net to shooters. This combined with sound positioning makes him tough to beat
straight on. One of his downfalls, however, is his lateral movement. Opposing
teams have found that the best way to score on Auld is by getting him to move
Since the Canucks have loaded their lineup with experienced
veterans this season, Auld has not received the opportunity he was looking for.
Last year, Peter Skudra was the backup to Dan Cloutier and this year the team opted
for getting a veteran backup in Johan
Hedberg as opposed to giving Auld the chance this year. Auld is one of only
three rookies to play for the Canucks so far this season. The others are Jason
King who is still with the team and Ryan Kesler who has been loaned to the U.S.
Auld was drafted 40th overall by the Florida
Panthers in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded to the Vancouver Canucks on
May 31, 2001 for a second round pick in 2001 and a third round pick in 2002. He
signed with the Canucks after the trade and played most of the next two seasons
for the Manitoba Moose in the AHL.
Auld’s NHL Career Stats:
Auld’s professional year-by-year breakdown: