Is it time for the Rangers to draft a goaltender?

The King

The Rangers are blessed with the King but shouldn’t assume he’s around forever.

The Rangers are in an enviable situation with Henrik Lundqvist manning their net at an age where he can continue playing at a high level for a long time behind what should be a contender for several seasons. The immediate future in net is bright, but those who think the club should sit back and rest on their laurels should be warned.

The Rangers need to begin seriously thinking about drafting a goalie for the future. Of course, their fingers may be a little burnt and their draft trigger finger a little hesitant given the disappointing outcomes from drafting Al Montoya, Antoine LaFleur, and Scott Stajcer, but the Rangers need to keep an eye on the future. This is made more apparent as current back up Marty Biron (no matter how talented) isn’t exactly a rookie himself either.

The Rangers were fortunate to draft Lundqvist in the 7th round way back in 2000. He never made his debut until the 2005/6 season, and while he quickly took over from assumed starter Kevin Weekes, he was pencilled in as a backup, learning the ropes patiently before assuming his starters role. The thing is, goalies take a long time to develop in most cases.

Look at Corey Schneider in Vancouver and how long it took him to become a full time NHL goalie. The examples of goalies that rush to the NHL with impressive results are minimal. Even the Rangers Marty Biron took almost five full seasons before starting more than 6 NHL games in a single season. It took Martin Brodeur four seasons to go from draftee to NHL starter. It took arguably the best NHL goalie of all time, Dominik Hasek, nine (!) years before he established himself as an NHL goalie. The point here is that it really does takes time.

What happens to the Rangers if Lundqvist has a serious injury? Do you have the same confidence in a Biron/Cameron Talbot duo? With the greatest respect to those two players, of course you don’t, especially not long term. A club has to prepare for the future as well as focusing on the present. It’s a balancing act that is a necessary evil.

So what if Lundqvist does indeed man the Rangers net for another decade? Do those mid round picks and time spent on developing goalies go to waste? Not necessarily so. A club like the San Jose Sharks routinely draft goaltenders and turn them either into roster players or assets. The NHL is, to an extent, also a game of asset management. Not every pick can become an NHL’er with the club that drafted them.

The Sharks drafted Mikka Kiprusoff back in 2005, and while the Sharks couldn’t find a place for the future Vezina winner in their own line-up long term, they turned him into Marc-Edouard Vlasic – a fine two way NHL defenseman. The Sharks meanwhile went with Evgeni Nabakov. They didn’t win a Cup with Nabakov, but he was certainly a solid starter for them for many years.

In recent seasons the Sharks have continued to draft goalies such as Thomas Greiss (now at the NHL level, showing plenty of potential), Alex Stalock (solid prospect, playing on poor AHL teams) and Harri Sateri (another decent Finnish goalie prospect). Naturally the Sharks don’t expect all these goalies to make it, but they form a pipeline, and the ones that aren’t used get moved for assets. Even Kiprusoff was a 5th round that fetched a 2nd round pick.

The point is this: The Rangers are blessed with the best goaltender in the world, but to take him for granted would or could be back-breaking. The Rangers need to plan for tomorrow while working towards today, and that counts for every position.

11 Responses to “Is it time for the Rangers to draft a goaltender?”

  1. SalMerc says:

    Not sure if there is a goalie available that would be a legit 1st round pick. I think they need defense, some more defense and then possibly a goalie.

  2. Gary says:

    It seems to mw that goaltenders become available quite often. I’m one to plan for the future but people talk about hank like he is retiring once his contract expires. What do you think his next contact should be? As well as cally and gaborik

  3. Tim B says:

    Good post. Defnetly something to look into. Who is worth drafting? And what if he is drafted before the Rasngers? Also how long will he stay in the system for?

    -Al Montoya currently the backup in Winnipeg posted good numbers for the Wolf Pack until they got rid of him
    -Chris Holt was never resigned. Montoya’s numbers were better than his
    -Miika Wiikman posted strong numbers the season Montoya was traded. Wiikman was traded for Anders Eriksson which i believe to be a very bad trade. Also he was undrafted
    -Johan Holmqvist was supposed to be good but sucked. Played for a few teams before heading to Sweden.
    -Jason Labarbera was good in the AHL. 13 shutouts in a season is still the AHL record. Has enjoyed success with 40 save performances in Phoinex.
    -Antoine Lafleur didnt play after the QMJHL (bust)
    -Dan Blackburn had a career ending injury (could have been future goaltender)
    -Brandon Snee was a bust
    -Johan Asplund never came over to North America (bust)
    -Jason McClean was a bust
    -Shawn Degagne was a bust
    -Jeff Heil had ok numbers in the ECHl and AHL but didn’t look like he was getting past that level (bust)
    -Dan Cloutier was a bust
    -Vitali Yeremeyev had 1 good season which was for the Wolf Pack back in 00-01 season. Before he went to Russia
    Well i see something that most of them have in common, they were a waste of a draft pick. I think the Rangers need to trade for a young goalie who was just drafted no matter what the price is. Clearly the odds of drafting a goalie who could be the future goaltender are very slim. Lundqvist, Richter and Vanbiesbrouck have had success with the Rangers.

    • bernmeister says:

      very informative, mostly spot on, IMO.

      It takes a lot to attempt to dominate, including having depth. When the Pens are partial exception in that they have uber-world best player in Malkin, that hurts the curve.

      So given reality and limitations of cap, etc., have to generally go with best talent, develop, hope for best, and trade if necessary for balance.

      Losing Blackburn hurts.
      He looked really good.

    • Jess Rubenstein says:

      Only problem with Tim B’s list is that only Scott Stajcer was drafted on Gordie Clark’s watch. Stajcer may not be a franchise goalie but his potential suggests a serviceable goalie.

      Brendan Burke son of Sean Burke who plays for the Portland Winterhawks could be hand for mid round pick as could Franky Palazzese of Sudbury.

      You could go 2nd or 3rd and go after Tristian Barry of Edmonton or go 6th-7th for Chad Katunar of Pentiction

  4. Walt says:

    Such a hard position to draft, maybe a trade route would be better. Look at Filthadelphia, they never replaced Pellie Lindburg after he died in a car crash back in the late 80′s!

    Maybe an UFA goalie would work as well, the kid in Phoenix is a good example to go after.

  5. Mikeyyy says:

    I would. Who knows if you got someone that was better or as good….you could shed money from payroll to get some help up front.

  6. Mike K says:

    Generally speaking, they should still draft best player available. What might make the most sense after this season is if there is a hot goalie prospect somewhere, maybe trade for him. As has been noted several times, the Rangers have a number of players who will be due new contracts soon, and likely can’t afford to fit them all under the cap. So when they get a better idea of which AHL/overseas players can contribute in 2013/14, maybe trade a player or two from current roster to get said goalie.

  7. Rangers might consider trading a player they have under control for only a year or so for someone they could have under control for a longer period of time so they could both get under the salary cap and maybe get to keep soe of their yuoung players who are coming due for new contracts maybe next year.

    Staal is 1st on my list, 2nd is Gaborik (see while his price is as high as it’s ever going be),3rd is, Callahan 2nd, (gets hurt a lot,)and 4th would be Girardi. Girardi, if possible, I would like to keep because he never gets hurt.

  8. Jess Rubenstein says:

    Why is it that Ranger fans think that the other 29 teams in the NHL exist just to give the Ranger’s a sweetheart deal in a trade?

    They forget that the key concept behind a trade is for BOTH teams to walk away thinking that they improved their team.

    Ranger fans may not realize it (or most likely don’t care) but the other team’s GM has to answer to his team’s fan base just like the Rangers do.

    No offense Frank but the kind of team that makes the deals you are suggesting are the ones who are not contending for the Cup.

    It would be foolish for the Rangers to add long term contracts if the goal was to keep their own young players. They will need some contracts to expire so they will have the room for those young players you want to keep.