This week’s goalie news week in review will look at who’s hot, who’s not, and the backup of the week. We’ll also check in on an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) goalie prospect who is making a name for himself in the upcoming draft.
Daws is Dominant
Nicholas (or Nico) Daws does not have a household name yet. But if he continues to play at this high of a level, he just might change that. The 18-year-old goaltender for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is far and away the best goaltender in his league right now.
The first-year starter just notched his second shutout of the season (no other goalie has more than one), and is leading the league in goals against average (GAA, 2.30) and save percentage (SV%, .938). It’s an impressive performance in eight games, particularly considering that the defending OHL Champion Storm are struggling and in fourth place in their division early in the season.
Daws was an eligible prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft, but struggled with consistency and was not selected. Over the summer, he worked hard and lost 20 pounds, and the results seem to be paying off for him. While he isn’t currently a top 2020 NHL Draft prospect, if he continues to perform like this, he may have some teams taking a second look at him.
Binnington Pulls Double Duty
In today’s day and age, starting back-to-back games is almost unheard of for an NHL goalie. But because Jake Allen has been fighting the flu, St. Louis Blues starter Jordan Binnington had to pull double duty. To make matters worse, Saturday’s game was in primetime, and Sunday’s game was a matinee, so Binnington got the second start on less than 24 hours’ rest.
Hockey fans should know by now that nothing phases Binnington very easily. It wasn’t his best start, by any means. He allowed four goals on 33 shots, including two soft opportunities he would certainly want back. But he did enough to keep the Blues in it until they won 5-4 in overtime. Considering the circumstances, that performance is good enough. The Blues don’t play again until Wednesday, so both Binnington and Allen should have plenty of time to rest up.
Week in Review
Tuukka Rask has been as good as any goalie on the planet since at least the start of last season’s playoffs. He is currently 5-0-1 with two shutouts, including one in his revenge game against the Blues on Saturday. He leads the league with a .952 SV%, a 1.48 GAA, and 7.89 goals saved above average (GSAA).
Marc-Andre Fleury will eventually age, but it doesn’t look like it will be this season. He leads the league in one of the few categories Rask doesn’t, wins, with 7, and immediately trails Rask in GSAA at 7.32. Connor Hellebuyck also deserves credit for keeping the virtually defenseless Winnipeg Jets in the hunt. He is second in the league in goalie point shares (2.4) and has an impressive 6.96 GSAA.
An entire team’s hopes can be derailed by bad goaltending. Last season, the San Jose Sharks’ offense was strong enough to overcome the poor performances of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell. This season, it seems that may not be the case. The Sharks are second-to-last in the Pacific Division, thanks in no small part to their goalies’ combined .892 SV%.
Speaking of struggling Pacific Division goalies, Jonathan Quick has an almost inconceivable -12.39 GSAA, despite starting just seven games. No longer the once-elite NHL goalie he was, he is now a drain on an aging Los Angeles Kings roster.
Backup of the Week: Alex Stalock
With Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild out due to injury, backup goaltender Alex Stalock has been thrust into action, including finishing out the shutout the night Dubnyk went down. So far this season, he’s 2-2 with a .928 SV% and a 1.98 GAA.
That’ll be no comfort to Sharks fans, as Stalock is a former backup in San Jose. It’s tough to say that he could be doing any better than Dell is right now, but then again, it’s hard to believe he could do any worse.
The Wild assigned third goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL), meaning that Dubnyk should be close to a return. With the Wild struggling themselves, it’s certainly possible that either Dubnyk or Stalock could be on the move to a team like the Sharks, desperately in need of a better solution in net. As Binnington proved last season, any team could be the right goaltender away from a Stanley Cup.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.