Friday, June 15, 2012

We Know Not What We Had
Blackhawks waive Alexander Salak

A story was floated, on twatter, this morning that the Blackhawks waived goalie prospect Alex Salak. I can't say that I'm least bit surprised. It looks as though he may have asked to go back to Europe, if he wasn't going to get a fair chance in the NHL, which he wasn't. The Blackhawks goalie depth, which was already disturbingly thin, has just taken another right cross to the bridge of the nose.

Salak had a rough year, that was compounded by injury and personal family issues. It has been reported that his attitude regarding his demotion to Rockford, following training camp, really left a bad taste in the collective mouths of the Hawks brass. This move makes that look even more true, now. I wasn't very shy about my affinity for Salak, but he simply came in with a poor attitude and didn't produce. Maybe he'll go back to Europe and maybe someone will claim him, but I hope he straightens his ass up, wherever he goes. This move along with Frolik's terrible year make Dale Tallon look much better in his deals with the Blackhawks.

Alec Richards is another interesting case, in how the organ-I-zation has handled him. He started the year in Rockford as the #1 guy, and ended up getting demoted to Toledo of the ECHL. When you go from the AHL to the ECHL, your career is definitely is heading, full bore, in reverse. I can't tell you just why coach Rockford coach Ted Dent soured on Richards, but he did. My guess would be that they let him play out his final year in Toledo and let him go.

This leaves the Blackhawks with Carter Hutton (if resigned), Kent Simpson, Mac Carruth, and Johan Mattsson in their entire system. A far cry from just a few years ago, when they had Niemi, and Crawford alone in Rockford. The good news is that Hutton, Simpson, and Carruth are all coming off very good years. Hutton is a good safety net, but no one knows just what Carruth or Simpson can do in Rockford. Carruth is only 20, so he could be sent to the Juniors if the Hawks don't like what they see just yet. Either way you slice it, the Blackhawks could use some goaltending depth in the system.

It is fun to think the Hawks might go for a "blue chip" goalie, in the draft, but from everything I've gathered, it's unlikely. Just for shits-n-giggles I thought I'd share the top goaltending prospects with you. I know, call me partial.

Oscar Dansk

The 17 year old Swedish born goalie is touted to be the best goalie pick in this years NHL entry draft, The 6'2, 183 pound currently plays for Brynas of the Swedish Elite league, This year winning a Silver Medal Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament with Team Sweden. This season he has also played in Brynäs J18 where he played just one game in which he had a 1.00 GAA & .954 SV%, he also played in Brynäs J20 where is saw 5 starts and came away with 2.39 GAA and .922 SV% and in the Swedish U18 he saw 4 starts with a 2.71 GAA and .905 SV%. He also spent time in 2007 & 08 in North America with Shattuck St Mary's, Minnesota where he started over 60 games and had a combined 1.70 GAA and .922 SV%.

He has been compared to Henrik Lundqvist in his style & size, his ability to absorb the hardest shot is a definite plus for any NHL team in and should be rewarded with a low first round or high second round pick.


Andrei Vasilevski

Andrei Vasilevski turned heads at the World Junior Hockey Championships when he fought off fellow countrymen Sergei Kostenko and Andrei Makarov to secure the job as Russia’s starting goaltender to begin the tournament. While he was pulled in favour of Makarov during the semi-final game against Canada and wasn’t called upon for the final against Sweden, Vasilevski’s brilliant performance up to that point showed why he is one of the highest rated goaltending prospects for this year’s draft. Team Russia’s aggressive offense and suspect defense meant that Vasilevski often had to face upwards of 40 shots per game in early tournament play. Vasilevski however, played spectacularly in the face of high shot totals, the height of his tournament being an epic duel with Czech goaltending standout Petr Mrazek that ended in a 2-1 Russian overtime victory. The composed Vasilevski finished the tournament with a sparkling .953 save percentage, a remarkable statistic especially for a draft-eligible 17-year old. At 6-foot-3 Vasilevski has prototypical size for an NHL goaltender and has displayed solid lateral movement to go along with a wicked glove hand. Vasilevski is also relaxed and composed when he needs to be, a trait that will surely augment his already impressive natural talent. Some teams may pass up on Vasilevski due to the stigmatic ‘Russian Factor,’ but his raw talent and size will be hard to ignore come June 22nd.


Malcolm Subban

The younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K., Malcolm Subban went against the family mould of blueliners and became a goaltender. He may be smaller than most netminders in Canadian junior hockey but he uses his smaller stature to his advantage. Subban has really solid technique that includes quick feet and agile positioning. He squeezes tight in the butterfly and he uses his lower centre of gravity to pull the puck into his body. He has stellar reflexes which makes his glove hand very fast. Subban moves from post to post with fluidity and he watches the play closely. However, he does need to improve on watching the play while being screened as he tends to stand in his crease without trying to look around the player in front of him. Most goals that go in on him are ones that go high since he is a smaller goalie. He also needs to work some more on his rebound control as he gives out big rebounds on a consistent basis. Subban is not flashy in the crease but he gets his job done. His play in 2010-11 as a rookie was so impressive that the Belleville Bulls traded Tyson Teichmann to the Erie Otters during the offseason. He will surely challenge newly acquired John Chartrand and CCHL sensation Daniel Altshuller for the #1 job in 2011-12.


Joonas Korpisalo

Many teams in European junior hockey find themselves utilizing several goaltenders over the course of a season. The under-20 team of Jokerit Helsinki, which plays in the Jr. A SM-liiga, was no different in 2011-12. During the past campaign, the team used the services of five goaltenders between the ages of 16 and 20, but none were as beneficial to the organization as Joonas Korpisalo.

It is quite impressive, and almost ironic, to think that Korpisalo has found himself to be one of Finland’s best young netminders. His father Jari scored 444 points, including 213 goals, in 575 career SM-liiga games. Additionally, the elder Korpisalo played three seasons in the Deutsche Eishockeyliga, which included a league championship in 2000 as a member of the München Barons.

It is no wonder that Korpisalo has been garnering notice for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, especially since scouts have been quite high on teammates Teuvo Teräväinen and Esa Lindell. To add, he has taken over the #1 job vacated by Edmonton Oilers draft pick Frans Tuohimaa, which, in itself, is a testament to his ability.

Korpisalo’s resume has already become quite incredible despite his youth. In 2010, he helped Jokerit’s under-16 team, which plays in the Jr. C SM-sarja, win their league championship. It was this past year, 2011-12, where he completely showed his capability to be a top-flight #1 goaltender. Korpisalo joined Jokerit’s under-20 team, despite being only 17 years of age, and he showed that his youth was not a hindrance. He emerged leading the league with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .920% save percentage. These statistics won him the Jorma Valtonen Award as the Jr. A SM-liiga’s best goaltender. Korpisalo also was named to the league’s all-star team as they also won the league’s silver medal.

In 2012, after his season was over, Korpisalo joined Finland’s under-18 team for the World Under-18s in the Czech Republic. Finland had quite an impressive roster, which also included Teräväinen, Lindell and Ville Pokka; as well, there were two players, Aleksander Petrov and Rasmus Ristolainen, who are eligible for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Korpisalo helped his team place fourth, losing the bronze medal game against Canada in overtime.

Korpisalo has been lauded for his athleticism, speed and professional build. He is also highly thought of his ability to make highlight reel saves, especially one he made on a Brendan Gaunce penalty shot in the bronze medal final of the World Under-18s. Korpisalo is also highly lauded based on his personality. His happy-go-lucky nature and his good sense of humour have made him very popular with his coaches and with members of the media.

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