The stress of stopping the puck with a game on the line is no sweat compared to what young goaltenders deal with waiting to be taken in the NHL draft.
Even the best goaltending prospects usually have to wait through the first round and then some before their names are called. Top-rated Olivier Rodrigue went through that this weekend.
”No expectation for the draft Nate Hairston Jersey ,” Rodrigue said. ”Totally a mystery. We all know it’s difficult for a goalie to be selected early.”
It’s nearly impossible now as teams wait until the later rounds to shore up the most important position in the sport. Unlike quarterbacks and pitchers who are often top-10 picks in football and baseball, goaltenders in hockey are so difficult to project that only six have gone in the first round over the past decade – including none this year.
No goaltender has been taken in the top 10 since Carey Price went fifth to Montreal in 2005. In the years since, the philosophy has shifted drastically from trying to hit on an elite goaltender early in the draft to hoping for the best in rounds 2 through 7 like 23 different teams did on Saturday.
”They’re so up and down and very few of them dominate,” Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. ”It’s hard. There are very few guys that are first-rounders that you can say at 18 are going to be Price or that type of goalie right off the bat. It doesn’t happen very often.”
The first goalie off the board at this year’s draft was Olof Lindbom 39th to the Rangers. Armed with a successful Swedish goalie in 36-year-old Henrik Lundqvist, New York GM Jeff Gorton called taking Lindbom ”an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
But as Rodrigue knows, teams pass on goalies all the time. His father, Sylvaine, is a goaltending instructor for Edmonton, which traded up to take him 62nd at the end of the second round.
Rodrigue was the second of 39 goalies taken in the 2018 draft that followed the recent pattern of the position being in demand but not early. Longtime Los Angeles Kings director of amateur scouting Mark Yanetti believes there haven’t been many generational goalies like Price and Marc-Andre Fleury recently but also points to the long development curve as a reason why they’re so rarely first-round picks.
”With the rare, rare, rare exception of like a Carey Price, Fleury, it takes a minimum of probably four to six years for a goalie to develop,” Yanetti said. ”Drafting a goalie very, very high with the success that they tend to have or don’t have Malik Hooker Jersey , -I think it’s right around 50 percent (odds of) becoming a regular NHL goaltender. I’m not even talking about elite.”
For every Price Fleury and Roberto Luongo who have strong NHL careers, there’s a laundry list of top-10 goalies who never panned out. A year after Nashville missed on Brian Finley sixth overall in 1999, Calgary whiffed on Brent Krahn ninth in 2000, and while Al Montoya had a respectable career as a backup, he never lived up to going No. 6 to the Rangers in 2004.
Montoya never played a game for New York, which is a common tale for highly touted goaltending prospects.
”Most goalies around the league, with the exception of maybe three or four, they don’t really hit their stride until they’re probably 25 years old,” Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said. ”That’s seven years down the road and most of those guys have moved on to another organization. Not as many of them make it with the team that drafted them just because of the life cycle.”
That uncertain life cycle makes front offices approach goaltender entirely differently than forwards and defensemen. Los Angeles has signed Martin Jones and Cal Petersen as free agents long after they went undrafted. Philadelphia did the same with Sergei Bobrovsky, who they gave up on early and traded him to Columbus, where he won the Vezina Trophy twice.
”It’s almost like adding a first- or second-round pick to your roster for nothing,” Yanetti said of signing older goalie prospects. ”They’re much closer to a finished product and you’re getting a first- or second-round asset without using a first or second-round draft pick.”
GMs like Tallon who aren’t goaltenders find evaluating the position harder and lean on their goalie coaches. To show just how inexact a science drafting a goalie is, nine went before the Washington Capitals took Braden Holtby in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, and he won the Vezina in 2016 before helping them win the Stanley Cup this season.
In the past decade, teams hardly even try anymore and often stockpile goalies rather than rolling the dice on taking them with high picks.
”People are understanding that the timeline of a goalie’s development path is longer and as the development path gets longer Aqib Talib Jersey , I think inherently there’s more risk,” Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. ”I think teams are managing risk and they’re understanding that because of the length of that timeline that goalies move and sometimes are on their second or third team before they ultimately become the goalie that he probably expected when you drafted him that high.”
Former University of Tennessee star linebacker A.J. Johnson is getting a shot in the NFL with the Denver Broncos less than a month after he was acquitted along with a college teammate of aggravated rape charges.
After his first practice as a pro Monday, Johnson said, "It's a blessing to be a part of a team, I'm excited to get out here, start working out and start working my tail off."
He said he never doubted he'd see this day .
"No, never a time. I had faith. I trusted in God," he said. "I kept working and being determined and kept pushing. I knew it was going to come."
Johnson said the Broncos reached out to him Saturday.
Coach Vance Joseph said he wasn't sure what to expect from Johnson following such a long layoff from football.
"Well, we'll see. It's been three years since he's actually played football. At that time, three years ago, he was a serious prospect," Joseph said. "He's got great size, he can run, he's a very, very intelligent player. So Jacob McQuaide Jersey , we'll see."
Johnson and Michael Williams were acquitted of all counts July 27. They were indicted in February 2015 after a woman said both men raped her during a party at Johnson's apartment in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 2014. Johnson and Williams were suspended from the team less than 48 hours after the party and never played for Tennessee again.
While Williams was a part-time starter in the secondary, Johnson was a four-year starter and a pro prospect whose invitation to the 2015 NFL combine was rescinded after charges were filed.
"A.J. hasn't had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter," general manager John Elway said in a statement Monday. "We've had several conversations with him since he's been cleared and have become very familiar with his background and character. Our organization is confident A.J. is ready to move forward and resume his playing career."
Joseph said the Broncos did their due diligence before signing Johnson.
"We talked to all of his coaches. My cousin actually coached him at Tennessee. Zach (Azzanni, Denver's new wide receivers coach) had him at Tennessee. Everyone spoke highly about the guy, so we'll see. Again, he wants to play football, he's been training for two years to play football. He's been here for four hours, so we'll see how he fits in."
To make room for Johnson, the Broncos released linebacker Stansly Maponga.
They also signed safety Shamarko Thomas after losing safety Jamal Carter (torn hamstring) for the season Saturday night in their preseason opener. Joseph said Carter needs surgery and will go on IR.
Thomas was released by the Colts on Saturday, less than 48 hours after he was ejected from a preseason game against Seattle for an illegal helmet hit.
Thomas said Colts coach Frank Reich told him his release wasn't over that hit, however.
"It's all in God's plan. The ejection, I leaned with my helmet, that's what they say. I'm just happy to be here and be a Bronco," Thomas said.
Now a 26-year-old rookie Michael Palardy Jersey , Johnson was a three-time All-SEC selection at Tennessee from 2011-14. He was a four-year starter in Knoxville whose 425 tackles ran second among any Volunteer since the school started keeping track of the statistic in 1970.
In 46 career games at Tennessee, he had 30陆 tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception, 11 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He posted double digits in tackles 23 times.
Prosecutors painted Johnson and Williams as entitled athletes who weren't used to being told no. Defense attorneys argued that the woman had sex with both men at the same time and then lied, claiming she had been raped.
After a jury of seven women and five men found Johnson and Williams not guilty, Johnson said, "I just knew God was going to take care of it."
The Broncos listed the 6-foot-2 Johnson at 243 pounds, but he said at his trial last month that he weighs 255 as he sought to revive his dream of playing in the NFL.
Johnson said he wasn't bitter over his long-delayed debut.
"No, I'm not a bitter guy. I wake up happy every day. I'm blessed, I'm glad to be out here," he said. "I haven't had this many cameras in my face in a long time. But no, I have no bitterness about me."
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