start of the 2005-06 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins will
have two goaltenders under one-way contracts. They acquired 30-year-old Jocelyn Thibault
during the offseason from
Jean-Sebastian Aubin become a free agent. Beyond the
tandem above, the Penguins have several young prospects waiting in the wings.
Drafted 1st overall – 2003 NHL Entry Draft
Marc-Andre Fleury is the goaltender of the future for
goaltender, following Thibault and Caron. Expect Fleury
to compete for a roster spot during training camp. This forces the
Penguins to either keep three goalies, trade Caron, or decide to give Fleury another year in the AHL.
a tall frame at 6’2 and long arms that allow him to be in proper position to
make a quick save. He also has
great poise when he is being crowded from the front of his net, but has been
known to give up weak goals occasionally.
he played the bulk of the season for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
(AHL) Penguins, and though he had only at .901 save percentage and 2.52 GAA, he
set new team records for wins, shutouts, and games played. However, when it came to playoff time,
his GAA ballooned to 4.36 and Andy
Chiodo and Dany Sabourin
replaced him. This is a trend that
has been present throughout his career.
2000 – 01
2001 – 02
2002 – 03
2003 – 04
2004 – 05
roster out of the gates during his first season a pro, but struggled and
received little defensive help. He
was sent back to his junior team in a move that was monetarily motivated. Fleury
performed exceptionally well while playing for Team Canada in the 2003-04 WJC
until the infamous gold medal game when he conceded three third period goals to
drop the game 4-3 to Team USA . He
had a record of 4-1 and a GAA of 1.81.
another year of being the starter in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
will help the development of this young prospect. Along with 2004 second overall pick
Evgeni Malkin and 2005 first overall pick Sidney Crosby, Fleury
is poised to become a fixture in a very talented Penguins locker room.
Andy Chiodo, Drafted 199th
overall – 2003 NHL Entry Draft
has been a nice surprise for the Penguins, adding much needed depth in their
system behind fellow 2003 draft choice Fleury. He will begin 2005-06 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
He will either be the everyday starter, if Fleury
lineup, or he will back Fleury up. This will be Chiodo’s third season as a
pro after spending his junior career with Toronto St. Michael’s of the OHL.
he split time between the WBS Penguins and the Wheeling Nailers
of the ECHL, so that he could get more playing time. As a rookie in 2003-04, he made eight
NHL appearances, where he went 3-4-1 with a 3.46 GAA. He finished his season as the starter
for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s playoff run.
a small, quick, and flexible goaltender.
He has shown a knack for catching fire in the playoffs, and has helped
push the Baby Pens deep into the playoffs the last two seasons. Assuming his positive development
continues, he should join Fleury in
contract expires at the end of the 2006-07 season.
the last goalie the Penguins have signed to a professional contract, with the
exception of Dany Sabourin, who will likely spend this year with
experience to make a good depth goaltender if injuries or bad form affect those
above him. The next three netminders all play in the NCAA and have two years of
eligibility remaining. Their
arrival on the professional scene will coincide with the Thibault
and Caron contracts expiring. Look
for these three to get a shot in 2006-07.
Drafted 171st overall – 2002 NHL Entry Draft
Bobby Goepfert is the highest drafted of the three NCAA goalies
the Penguins have in their system.
He spent two years at
season because of a transfer to
the Huskies. He is a very talented
player with a strong glove hand.
Brandon Crawford-West, Drafted 250th
overall – 2001 NHL Entry Draft
Crawford-West is a prospect whose development has taken a strange turn. He was taken in the eighth round in 2001
as a depth goaltender with some upside potential. He spent the next two seasons in the
juniors, bouncing around from
of the AWHL and finally Tri-City of the USHL. In 2003-04 it appeared he was ready to
sign a professional contract and play the season for the Wheeling Nailers.
Instead, he decided to go to college and play for Miami of Ohio. He has performed well with
graduates, he will be 25 years old, and that may not help him find a spot.
Dave Brown, Drafted 228th
overall – 2004 NHL Entry Draft
has really opened some eyes following his first two seasons at Notre Dame. The former eighth round draft pick was
sixth in all of the NCAA with a .925 save percentage as a freshman. In 2004-05, his numbers, and his playing
time suffered as Notre Dame struggled.
If Brown can find consistency and regain his form of 2003-04, he is a
legitimate NHL candidate down the road.
He is a smart goalie, always setting up on the right angles, and isn’t
afraid to come out after a shooter.
that trio of NCAA goaltenders are two overage Europeans whose rights the
Penguins still hold. They are Mika Lehto,
26, who was taken 224th overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, and Tomas Duba, 24, who was taken 217th
overall in the 2001 Draft. Lehto has spent the last seven years playing in the Finnish
league. Duba spent two years in the
Finnish league and has now played two seasons in the Czech Extraleague. It appears unlikely that either of these
players will come to
Penguins appear to be well stocked at goaltender for some time to come, but
expect GM Craig Patrick and his team to continue to add young talent to this
already deep crop of players.
DJ Powers and Adrian Barclay contributed to this
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