Tess, here again and this time I’m talking goalies… y’know, that position that the Checkers currently have NO ONE in. That is the one position I care most about, so I’m going to try and write this a logically and thorough as I can without getting emotional.
Today it was reported that G prospect Frederik Andersen (drafted 187 overall in 2010) has declined his contract offer with the Hurricanes, particularly on the basis that he won’t get time in the NHL. He could be stuck in the AHL for two years with no guarantee of even a single game in the NHL. Andersen has thrived in the SEL, boasting a .941 SV% and a 1.67 GAA this past season. He’s progressing nicely in Europe, plays as the number one goaltender, and really has no reason to come to the States. Unless he changes his mind, Andersen will end up back in the draft.
This situation brings up a lot of things. The most concerning to me is the imminent demise of the Carolina goalie system. The problem has been there for quite some time. Cam Ward plays too much, the backups don’t play that well, and the prospects get no chance. Since he won the cup, Cam Ward has been a workhorse (when he’s not injured anyway) and for some reason it seems there is always a failure to sign a suitable backup. The lack of a suitable backup means that Cam plays more than he should and there is no trust in the backup. No trust and no time, only makes a goalie worse. Ward’s contract ends with the 2016-’17 season and current backup, Brian Boucher’s ends with the ’13-’14 season. Pending trade, retirement, or disaster, things are kind of set at the NHL level regardless of who actually deserves to be there. The issues most certainly extend to the AHL as well. The tandem has not been working well. Is there a single person who doesn’t think Mike Murphy earned to start the majority of the games the past two years? Then this past season when it came to calling up a goalie, Justin Peters gets called? Undoubtedly he didn’t deserve it. I know I’m going to catch a lot of flack from those of you who weren’t there watching him play all season, but that’s just it, you weren’t watching him throw away games. Fans in Charlotte were covering their faces and cursing at the sky the majority of the time he was in net. I’m not trying to attack Peters, but he simply wasn’t up to par and certainly was handed what he did not earn. Meanwhile Murphy had proved himself time and time again, only to get shafted over and over. Can you blame the guy for signing with the KHL? Because I can’t. I want to be angry, I want to be upset, I want to feel betrayed… but I can’t. He was treated like the red headed step-child. He finally gets called up to the NHL and he records the first ever loss without letting in a goal. The Charlotte D constantly left him high and dry, trusting him to take the game in his hands far too much. The list really goes on with what he earned far outweighing what he was awarded. So yeah, we deserve to be in the situation we’re in. No doubt that that with a little more focus on Murphy and some consistent coaching from Tom Barrasso, Mike could be backing up Cam Ward (as a legitimate backup) only to become an elite goaltender in the future.
Instead we have no one. I’m not going to even begin to entertain the idea of signing Justin Peters again. Our only other goalie prospect is Matt Mahalak who is not only too young to play in the AHL, but he has yet to prove himself in the OHL. John Muse is everyone’s favorite to start for the Checkers, but he’s not on contract either. Surely he’ll be getting many offers, and several he can’t refuse. I’m just hoping that Carolina can lock him in. Then we need to find another free agent to sign or trade for a goalie. Here is a list of current UFA goalies, 4 of them have played in our system. I honestly don’t know who I’d like us to nab, there are too many variables to consider and it has my brain in knots. More power to Jim Rutherford and his pimphand, that is if we haven’t seen its demise too with the inability to sign Murph or Andersen.
This brings me to the draft. If we don’t draft Malcom Subban I will lose my mind. I’ve been eyeing him for a while and he has so much promise. Plus the organization is big on collecting family members whose last name starts with “S”, perfect fit. Joking aside, obviously you can’t really draft for the future on what we need now, but I don’t think we could really go wrong with Malcolm.
Overall, I’m hoping for a goalie system overhaul in the organization. With Tom Barrasso most likely leaving for a goalie coach who can spend more time in the AHL I’d think the front office has realized the trouble they’ve put themselves in. Fingers crossed that when Murphy’s stint with the KHL has ended he’ll still be on the Carolina radar and come back. I pray that we let someone else have Justin Peters, the team has put far too much faith into him. That’s not to say I hope he doesn’t get signed or that he fails to strive with another team, I just don’t like him with this team plain and simple.
I’m going to end this with good news though. Two players did get signed today, Brody Sutter and Justin Kueger. Brody’s contract is a 3-year, entry level deal and Justin’s in a 1-year, 2-way. For more on Brody Sutter’s contract go here, and more on Krueger’s is here.
Also of interest is Paul Branecky’s Checkers contract breakdown with information on all of last season’s Checkers and where they stand.