by Ron Spence
Mike Gillis had an impressive summer: he signed the Sedins and Roberto; picked up some veterans who have Stanley Cup rings and traded for more defenseman.
I am also impressed with what he’s done for Vancouver’s depth in goal. He let both Curtis Sanford and Jason LaBarbera go. They were replaced by Andrew Raycroft – a goalie with a better NHL history at half of the price.
And Gillis also addressed Vancouver’s thinness further down the depth chart.
Below, is a list of Vancouver’s goalie draft picks over the past decade. Of course, Cory Schneider is great and Cannata is still in college, but the rest of the picks just don’t have it. All you have to do is look at their goals against averages, and where they are playing – in the ECHL or the CHL.
stats courtesy of hockeydb.com
Both Matt Violin and Kevin Swanson have left hockey.
So, what Mike Gillis did was pirate another organization which had goalies coming out of the ying yang.
The Washington Capitals don’t have a Roberto, but they have Jose Theodore and two young Europeans: Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov. Neuvirth was Hershey’s MVP goalie in their run for the Kelly Cup, and Varlamov played very well for the Caps during the NHL post-season (The twenty-year-old was 7-6 and had a .918 save percentage and a 2.53 goals against average – against the Rangers and Pens.).
The Capitals also have Braden Holtby and Dan Dunn in their system.
This glut meant that Daren Machesney wasn’t re-signed, and the Canucks got his name on the dotted line.
“A technically sound goalie with great reflexes and lateral quickness,” wrote Hockey’sFuture about Machesney.
Last pre-season, the pundits had penciled Machesney in to be Washington’s number three man – behind Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson.
“I say Machesney starts the season as the #1 guy in Hershey,” wrote Derek Meluzio of Pennlive.com. “He will play the majority of the games and will get called up a few times to the NHL during the season when injuries happen. As for the back-up…. I say Varlamov gets the spot and Neuvirth goes to South Carolina.”
What the forecasters didn’t realize was that the two young Euros would quickly come of age, and shove Machesney down the depth chart – and eventually into a Manitoba Moose uniform.
Thus, Vancouver now has one excellent, one very good and two reasonable goalies. This is a significant improvement over last season.
A profile on Daren Machesney will follow tomorrow.
(I will be writing about Lukas Mensator in a few weeks.).