I'm leaving in an hour to head out on my final goalie scouting trip for the summer (Las Vegas and then Edmonton), and since it's the beginning of a new month, I wanted to make sure I posted updates to my monthly reports.
You can view the updated Top-25 Prospects Rankings and The Graduates right now. I've also revised the NHL Depth Charts by taking out a few free agents and adding another new assistant goalie coach (Steve Shields - Florida). But I didn't update each team's verbiage because there's not much to discuss during the month of July. But once I get back from my trip, I'll update those as well.
The only thing that really sticks out to me right now is the rising number of NHL teams that are finally hiring assistant goalie coaches. Most recently, Florida has added Steve Shields, Colorado added Jean-Ian Filiatrault, the Tampa Bay Lightning added David Alexander, and the Winnipeg Jets have hired Dusty Imoo.
I believe the total count right now is that 18 of the 30 teams have a two-goalie coach system, and that's great news. Don't be surprised if that number hits 20 by the time the season starts, and by this time next year, maybe we'll see every NHL team have two coaches.
In regards to the Top-25 Prospects Ranking, there's nothing too surprising in this update. I've added Antti Raanta and Reto Berra to the mix, as they both have legitimate NHL upside in my mind. No, my sample size in terms of viewings is not large, but from what I have learned and seen, there's a reason they both enter training camp as #3 goalies in their respective team's depth charts.
I think Raanta has a bit of an advantage to start since he's a few years younger, and he's only behind the aging Nikolai Khabibulin in the depth chart. It's debatable who is the more skilled goalie between Raanta and Berra since they are such different goalies, so if you're going to ask me who gets their NHL debut first, your guess is as good as mine.
I'm more familiar with Berra because I've been tracking him for a longer time. He has been on the "radar" for the last three years, since he really started to establish himself as one of the top goalies in the Swiss Elite League (NLA). But you never know what that transition process is going to be like for Europeans, so there's just a lot of questions for both guys heading into camp.
John Gibson and Andrei Vasilevskiy are still the two guys I've got my eyes on if I'm a poolie in a keeper league. They are tremendous athletes with great size and the ability to win big games on the big stage. Don't pass up either one of those guys.
Other than that, again, everything is pretty straightforward. If you were to pass on drafting a few guys, don't get choked up if you miss out on Jeff Zatkoff or Jack Campbell. Jack is going to need at least another two years in the AHL before he's truly ready to take the jump, and I'm still not sold on Zatkoff being anything more than an average NHL backup. He'll need an injury to Tomas Vokoun or Marc-Andre Fleury if he's ever going to get a look between now and the end of his contract.
I guess that's about it for now. This has been a very busy summer for myself due to a handful of scouting trips, and I've learned a lot about the scouting process. I've had to churn out a ton of reports on a ton of prospects, but it's really helping me get a good understanding of the junior and prep leagues in the USA.
McKeen's Hockey members should click on the "Premium Content" page and read my welcome letter. I'll be loading up this page with some good stuff once I get back from Edmonton in mid-August. I've had some great talks with the management team at McKeen's Hockey and I'm really excited for some big changes and enhancements as we prepare for the 2013-14 season, my first full one with the crew.
Thanks as always for your support, and especially for your patience over the summer! Don't forget you can contact me directly at any time at email@example.com if you have specific questions on prospects or fantasy goalies.