Martin Jones and 10 Rookie NHL Goalies Worth Watching This Season
Martin Jones and 10 NHL Rookie Goalies Worth Watching This Season
As injuries continue to mount across the NHL, more and more rookie goaltenders are getting a chance to shine at the highest level. More than 10 of these goalies are appearing in the NHL for the first time in their career, and some are even in their first season of North American hockey. The list of injured starting goalies reads like an All-Star Game roster, as Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne and Corey Crawford have all missed significant time.
While Martin Jones of the Los Angeles Kings is the rookie netminder getting most of the headlines after a record-tying 8-0 start to his career, there are many other first-year goalies who are having great seasons as well. As injured players heal, many of these rookies may be headed back to the minors but they have served notice that they are more than capable of carrying the load in the NHL. Of the 11 players featured in this slideshow, all have spent time in the AHL. The pipeline running from the top minor league has rarely been as important as it is this season, and teams with significant system depth have found themselves ahead of the pack. It’s not always possible to be patient with top-tier goaltending prospects, but Jones, Alex Stalock (San Jose Sharks) and Cam Talbot (New York Rangers) are great examples of what a hungry player who has toiled in the AHL for years can do when the door is finally opened for them. These 11 rookies are worth keeping an eye on not only this season, but for many more to come.
Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings
Petr Mrazek led the Grand Rapids Griffins to an AHL calder Cup championship last season, and was also 1-1 in two appearances for the Red Wings. He's getting a longer look this season as Jimmy Howard battles an injury, and he has a 1.90 goals-against and a 1-2-0 record. In his three starts this season, he has posted a shutout and watched as Detroit has been shut out twice.
Reto Berra, Calgary Flames
The Flames got the rights to Swiss goaltender Reto Berra in the trade that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the Blues, and in his first season in North American the young goaltender is doing a decent job for the Flames. His 5-8-2 record is less a reflection of his skill than the team in front of him, as the Flames rank near the bottom of the league in goals per game (20th), goals-against (28th) and power play percentage (26th).
Antti Raanta, Chicago Blackhawks
Injuries to Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin saw Antti Raanta thrust into the starter's role for the Blackhawks, and he has responded quite well considering this is his first season in North America. Raanta is 8-2-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. Crawford may be nearing a return, but Raanta is making a strong case to stay on as his backup.
Cam Talbot, New York Rangers
After waiting three seasons for his shot, Cam Talbot is coming up big for the Rangers as Henrik Lundqvist's backup. He has an 8-2-0 record with a 1.60 goals-against average and two shutouts.
Carter Hutton, Nashville Predators
After three seasons in the AHL, Carter Hutton started the season with the chance to be a full-time NHL netminder. An injury to Pekka Rinne made him the starter, and while he struggled in that role at first he has bounced back. He is now 7-5-2 on the season, while getting minimal support from a Predators team that ranks 25th in the league in goals per game.
Marek Mazanec, Nashville Predators
Marek Mazanec hadn't even played a game in North America before this season, and now he's 5-8-1 with 17 NHL games under his belt. After a solid start to the season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, Mazanec was called up after Pekka Rinne was injured and has shown flashes of greatness while tending the net for a Predators team that doesn't always give him much offensive support.
Alex Stalock, San Jose Sharks
While the fact that he is 26 years old prevents Alex Stalock from fitting the true definition of a rookie, this season is the first time the young netminder is seeing regular action. he's been in the AHL since the 2009-10 season, and had only appeared in three games for the Sharks. As Antti Niemi's backup, he's still not guaranteed many starts, but his 4-1-0 record shows that he can be counted on when necessary.
Eddie Lack, Vancouver Canucks
With Cory Schneider traded away, Eddie Lack finally got a chance to be Roberto Luongo's backup in Vancouver. He's 6-2-0 this season with a sub-2.00 goals-against average, and a recent injury to Luongo could see him playing a lot more in coming weeks.
Philipp Grubauer, Washington Capitals
Philipp Grubauer played in two games for the Capitals last season but wasn't quite ready. This season is a different story, as the 2010 fourth round pick has a 4-1-1 record while filling in for an injured Michal Neuvirth.
Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks
For the second consecutive season, the Ducks have found a rookie goaltender capable of leading them to victory. Frederik Andersen is 9-1-0 with a 1.87 goals-against average, and ironically got his shot because of an injury to last year's rookie sensation Viktor Fasth.
Martin Jones, Los Angeles Kings
Martin Jones matched an NHL record by winning his first eight starts. Teaming with Ben Scrivens to keep the Kings rolling while Jonathan Quick is sidelined, Jones has a 1.31 goals-against average and .953 save percentage in 10 appearances. Making the most of his chance with the Kings after three full seasons in the AHL, Jones also has three shutouts.