by Ron Spence

A quick look at the NHL’s goalies with the most wins – so far this season – shows that San Jose has drafted three of them.

First overall is Evgeni Nabokov, followed by Mikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala.

The three were selected in the 1994 and 1995 drafts.

Toronto’s Toskala was drafted highest overall at 90th overall, with Calgary’s Kiprusoff second at 116th, and San Jose’s Nabokov third at 219th.

Their lower round goalie selections are a Sharks’ tradition.

In the 16 drafts from 1993 until 2008, San Jose has selected 18 goalies. The highest pick was Toskala, with Vancouver Giants’ goalie Tyson Sexsmith selected at 91st – in 2007.

2008 Entry 106 4 Harri Sateri Tappara Jrs. (Finland)
2007 Entry 83 3 Timo Pielmeier Cologne Sharks [DEL]
2007 Entry 91 3 Tyson Sexsmith Vancouver Giants [WHL]
2005 Entry 112 4 Alex Stalock Cedar Rapids RoughRiders [USHL]
2005 Entry 140 5 Taylor Dakers Kootenay Ice [WHL]
2004 Entry 94 3 Thomas Greiss Cologne Sharks [DEL]
2004 Entry 129 4 Jason Churchill Halifax Mooseheads [QMJHL]
2004 Entry 234 8 Derek MacIntyre Soo Indians [NAHL]
2004 Entry 288 9 Brian Mahoney-Wilson Catholic Memorial H.S. (Mass.)
2003 Entry 139 5 Patrick Ehelechner Hannover Scorpions [DEL]
2001 Entry 107 4 Dmitri Patzold Erding Jets [2.GBun]
2000 Entry 166 5 Nolan Schaefer Providence College [NCAA]
1996 Entry 55 3 Terry Friesen Swift Current Broncos [WHL]
1995 Entry 90 4 Vesa Toskala Ilves Jrs (Finland)
1995 Entry 116 5 Miikka Kiprusoff TPS Jrs. (Finland)
1994 Entry 219 9 Evgeni Nabokov Kamenogorsk (Russia)
1993 Entry 210 9 Jonas Forsberg Djurgardens IF Stockholm [SEL]
1993 Entry 236 10 Jeff Salajko Ottawa 67’s [OHL]

This formula obviously worked brilliantly during the mid-1990s. But, is it still effective?

The Sharks selected 4 goalies at the 2004 draft, 2 one year later, 2 in 2007 and one this past June.

How are they doing? All of the players from the 2005 until 2008 drafts are in San Jose’s system. But, of the 4 from 2004, only one remains: Thomas Greiss, who might be the Sharks’ best prospect.

Churchill has left hockey, MacIntyre is playing in the EPHL, Mahoney-Wilson is still playing some college hockey, and Ehelechner played two years in the OHL and returned to Germany.

And the goalies selected from 2000 and 2001? Patzoid played in 3 NHL games with a goals against average of 5.51 and a save percentage of 8. Schaefer – brother of Peter – played in 7 San Jose games and remains a career minor leaguer.

HOCKEY’S FUTURE isn’t high on San Jose’s current goalie prospects:

Strengths: Defense and overall balance are the hallmarks of the Sharks talent pipeline. In Couture (C), Devin Setoguchi (RW), towering Ty Wishart and Nick Petrecki (D), and German goalie Thomas Greiss, the Sharks a have a fairly nice core of future stars at every position….”

Weaknesses: After the aforementioned players, the talent level seems to fall off dramatically, especially at the critical position of goalie. Top five prospects: 1. Logan Couture (C), 2. Ty Wishart (D), 3. Devin Setoguchi (RW), 4. Nick Petrecki (D), 5. Torrey Mitchell (C). Key graduates: Joe Pavelski [Please note that these prospects don’t include a goalie.]

The TSN’s SHANE MALLOY is more optimistic. He notes: “Good potential and incredible depth in net…” but his specifics aren’t convincing.

Thomas Greiss – Goalie, 22 – (3rd round 94th overall 2004)
Currently with Worchester (AHL)
The German netminder has left his homeland in 2006 -2007 after a excellent season Kolner Haie to start his career in North America. In his rookie season his development has slowed as he adjusts to the speed and angles of the North American game. He has shown athleticism and good lateral movement and decent overall technique. He anticipates the play well but could be more patient and having a goalie consultant will work out any bad habits. Over his past two seasons he has played 84 games with a record of 44-33-7 with a GAA of 2.84 and .902 save percentage which are respectable numbers. His inconsistencies are the main reason his save percentage is not higher and he has no shutouts and he has not established whether he can carry a team or become a NHL caliber netminder yet. At 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds he has decent size so he just needs another year or two year in the minors to work out his game.


eishockeyinfocomcourtesy of

Tyson Sexsmith – Goalie, 19 (3rd round 91st overall 2007)
Currently with Vancouver (WHL)
A solid 6 foot 0 and 210 pound netminder who shows poise and composure on fire with big game presence. Has good fundamentals in his movement around the crease and generally keeps a compact frame. Has good vision and can track pucks in traffic. Is a solid skater and has quick feet with good recovery and gives himself a chance to make every save. Shows a quick glove hand and uses his blocker well and directs pucks well with his stick. Sometimes loses his focus and can let in soft goals and tends to play to far back in his crease when things are not going well. He has had two good regular seasons averaging 1.83 GAA and a .913 save percentage along with an impressive 84-23-16 record as a starter. Had a great playoff run in 2006-2007 winning the Memorial Cup. An invite to the Canada WJC camp was another good experience for this young goaltender with potential to make the team. He could be a solid pro due to his work ethic and dedication to his craft.

Alex Stalock – Goalie, 21 (4th round 120th overall 2005) Currently with Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
The 6 foot 0 and 185 pound netminder rebounded well from a tough freshman season where he went from a 3.31 GAA and a .881 SV% to 2.35 GAA and .914 SV% in his sophomore year. He showed better poise and confidence in his sophomore season and remained in position and a compact frame consistently. Once he started from the right position he made saves easier and with less effort and less recovery time. Is an excellent skater which helps him get out to loose pucks and scramble if needed and is above average in his puck handling skills. So far this season he seems to have continued where he left off last season and shown improvement in his rebound control and tracking the puck trough traffic. He should play all four years at Minnesota-Duluth as there is no need to rush his development especially with the log jam of goalies in the system.

Timo Pielmeier – Goalie, 19 (3rd round 83rd overall 2007)
Currently with Shawinigan (QMJHL)
The German native is in his second season in the QMJHL and has perhaps surprised many with his solid performance and quick adjustment to the North American game. Now the game in Germany is not entirely different but the change of speed and the angles usually make things difficult for goalies coming over. A lanky and thin goalie at 6 foot 0 and 165 pounds that will need to add some muscle and strength to his frame to reduce injury and fatigue. Once the body goes the concentration and focus usually follows so long term that will have to be addressed. Fortunately despite his lack of girth he does not leave much space and remains in a compact frame and uses his angles well while being aggressive at the appropriate time. Shows good quickness and lateral movement with surprising rebound control for a young netminder. Flashes a quick glove hand and has been improving his work on the blocker side. His statistics were solid last year with the St. John’s Fog Devils sporting a 23-22-4 record with a 3.00 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. Now after changing teams this season he has exploded early on with .932 save percentage over 13 games and he will be watched closely to see if he can maintain it. If the Sharks are patient with him and he does not get lost in the system he could be a future pro goalie for them one day but at what level is still uncertain.

Harri Sateri – Goalie, 18 (4th round 106th overall 2008)
Currently with Tampere (Finland)
One of the most likely regarded goaltenders in last years draft dropped to the fourth round and could end up being a steal for the Sharks one day. He will be a fan and broadcast announcer favorite due to his name and style. He has good size at 6 foot 1 and 190 pounds with the quickness to cover the net especially down low. Shows good overall mechanics and remains in a compact frame in the crease setting up for the shot fairly quickly. Shows a bit of flair for the dramatic when making a save and sometimes should just make the save. Like all young goalies he needs to work on his rebound control and consistency but the talent is there. Does not have a great glove hand but he shows pretty good eye hand coordination when catching the puck or deflecting pucks with his blocker. So far early in this season he has elevated his game to another level and working with the pros should help push his development faster along than his peer group. Is in no rush to come over to North America due to the number of netminders in the system.

Taylor Dakers – Goalie, 22 (5th round 140th overall 2005)
Currently with Worchester (AHL)
Although he has not played many games in the WHL over his three seasons with 89 appearances his statistics are quite respectable. He posted 49 wins, 32 losses, and 3 ties along 13 shutouts and a solid .915 save percentage. He is lanky at 6 foot 2 and 170 pounds but he can manage to leave the shooter very little space. He has decent fundamentals and cuts off the angles and remains square. In his rookie pro season he has split time between Worchester in the AHL and Phoenix in the ECHL. He needs time to adjust to the speed of the AHL with some time in the ECHL to get back to the basics and gain confidence. He should get more playing time next season in the AHL once Tomas Greiss moves up to the NHL and the consistency should help his confidence. Has yet to show he can play at the AHL with consistency and the remaining group of goaltenders is going to push him out if he does not have a solid season. Most likely will be a journeyman AHL goalie at this stage of his development.


The failure of San Jose’s goalie pipeline is shown by the fact that they might have drafted 18 goalies in 16 years, but had to trade for a backup last February. They acquired Brian Boucher, who had been playing in the AHL for Philadelphia. Patzold’s and Greiss’ sad stats shown below indicate why Doug Wilson made the deadline acquisition (The year before, of course, they had the expensive Toskala/Nabokov tandum that wasn’t viable, with both wanting more ice time.):

Evgeni Nabokov 32 77 4561 46 21 8 6 2.14 0.91
Brian Boucher 31 5 238 3 1 1 1 1.76 0.932
Dimitri Patzold 24 3 44 0 0 0 0 5.45 0.8
Thomas Greiss 22 3 129 0 1 1 0 3.26 0.86
Team Total 82 4972 49 23 10 7 2.18 0.908
Vesa Toskala 29 38 2142 26 10 1 4 2.35 0.908
Evgeni Nabokov 31 50 2778 25 16 4 7 2.29 0.914
Team Total 82 4920 51 26 5 11 2.32 0.911

San Jose’s plan of attack for acquiring goalies has faltered, and they must draft their goalies higher, or trade prospects for good backups until Nabokov stores his pads.

They are a formidable franchise, and their goaltending pipeline is their only apparent weak link.


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