Monday, May 25, 2009

NCAA/CHL Free Agent Goalie Wishlist

Following my wishlist of forwards and blueliners, here are the goalies that interest me enough that I hope to see get consideration for an invite to summer camp here in Edmonton. Some of these guys are still eligible to get drafted at the end of June but all of them have been passed over at least once already.

Dean and I were talking a while back about save percentage and trying to compare it to goal scoring. What number would be equal in value to a team as say a 50-goal scorer? There were only 5 goalies in the NHL this year with a save percentage of .920 or greater. There was only one 50-goal scorer but there were eight who had 40 or more. So just for arguments sake... can we make a case for saying a goalie with a .920 save percentage is relatively as valuable as a 45-goal scorer?

Maybe, maybe not. Worth talking about.

Ben Scrivens - Cornell University Big Red
Born Sep 11, 1986 Spruce Grove, ALTA
Height 6.02 Weight 180 Shoots L

The jury is very much mixed on exactly how good Scrivens is; is he a product of an uber-defensive system of a team that plays in a relatively weak conference or is he as good as his numbers suggest? And really, that's the point of the invite. I spoke with a scout a couple months back and asked him that exact question and his answer was
"Without a doubt, he's a product of... maybe I'm wrong but I don't think so. He has made improvements in his game since last year, especially in his movement in the crease."
Scrivens posted the .931 save percentage in 36 games, 4th highest in the entire NCAA. This after a .930 in 2007-08 and a .911 in 2006-07. His 1.81 goals against average was another career best and ranked 3rd best in the NCAA. At 6'2 and 180 lbs his size is an asset and the fact that he's a local kid might have some intangible positive spin possibilities as well. He's headed back for his senior year so will be a UFA this time next season.

Zane Kalemba - Princeton Tigers
Born Dec 19, 1985 Saddle Brook, NJ
Height 5.11 Weight 185 Shoots L

The New Jersey product has bounced around in his amateur career with stops in Tri-City and Green Bay of the USHL followed by a year in the SJHL's Flin Flon Bombers. He's had two strong years at Princeton under head coach Guy Gadowsky. Kalemba's 1.82 GAA was right behind Scrivens but his .932 sv% was a hair better. Like Scrivens, Kalemba's team is also located in the ECAC Conference where there is a distinct difference between the strong and weak hockey programs.

I have only seen Kalemba play once and it was on TV so not the best way to get a scouting read. At 5'11 and 185 lbs he doesn't have the natural size advantage that are becoming the norm in the NHL but he appears to be athletic enough, like Dustin Tokarski, that he should be given an extra look.

Kieran Millan - Boston University
Born Aug 31, 1989 Edmonton, ALTA
Height 6.00 Weight 190 Shoots L

Near the top of my list would be the freshman sensation of the NCAA Champion B.U. Terriers. We've had Millan on the show before and he struck us as a mature and realistic young man. His play on the ice this past year, his first at the NCAA level, was obviously terrific as he helped the Terriers capture the national title. Coach Jack Parker told us during our Memorial Cup Coach's Show about how key a player he was on and off of the ice.

Millan's numbers are solid and considering the fact that Hockey East was arguably the best of the 6 NCAA conferences last year, the stats should mean even more. Millan posted a 1.93 GAA in 35 games and had a .925 save percentage to go with it. He held the opposition to 1 or fewer goals in 15 of those games including a shutout over UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East title game.

His AJHL days with Spruce Grove were less impressive but after working with ORSports later in the year he turned his game around and hasn't looked back since.

Aaron Sorochan - Alberta Golden Bears
Born Apr 17, 1984 Edmonton, ALTA
Height 6.00 Weight 180 Shoots L

Back in March I mentioned a bunch of Golden Bears past and present that I'd like the Oilers to look at next year, especially if former UofA coach Rob Daum is back at the helm of the Springfield Falcons and goalie Aaron Sorochan was obviously one of them. (I neglected to mention Ben Kilgour and Ian MacDonald again for the forwards wishlist but they'd still be on it).

Robin Brownlee typed up a nice outline of Sorochan recently for Oilers Nation so rather than me re-hashing what he said there or what we've written in the past about him here, suffice to say that I think he's deserving of another look.

One NHL scout told me after one of the Golden Bears' National Title wins that it was going to be an off-season priority for him to get his NHL team to invite both Sorochan and Ben Thomson to their next camp. Unfortunately that scout was not retained by that NHL club. Regardless, the interest from NHL teams has been there in the past and should be even more now that Sorochan in done his CIS career.

Torrie Jung - Edmonton Oil Kings

Born Jan 21, 1989 Nanaimo, BC
Height 6.01 Weight 170 Shoots L

At the moment Jung's NHL rights are held by the Tampa Bay Lightning but if they don't sign him by June 1st, he'll go back into the draft. If that happens, I will be very surprised if another team doesn't take him but... if that also happens then he will become a UFA and therefore up for grabs.

Jung had the 7th best GAA and the 5th best SV% on a team that finished just well enough to make the playoffs (thanks to him) and still bad enough to have a top-10 pick in the Bantam Draft. Jung was the biggest reason for the turn around the Oil Kings had this year and if that club actually gets him back for an overage year... well just making the playoffs won't be enough.

He's a quick and agile goalie but is pretty good positionally as well. His personality is terrific and his attitude is first class. He'd be a great addition to any organization and if he can duplicate last year's success as a 20-year-old then he'll definitely be worth signing.

Nicola Riopel - Moncton Wildcats
Born Feb 20, 1989 St-Pie-de-Bagot, PQ
Height 6.00 Weight 167 Shoots L

I honestly know nothing about Riopel except that his numbers this year were very strong, he's undrafted and yet he was the QMJHL's nominee for CHL Player of the Year. He backstopped Moncton to the third best record in the regular season but individually he was on top of the league for both GAA (2.01) and SV% (.931).

He's of average if not slight below average size but in a league that often sees ridiculous scores, giving up just a pair is pretty respectable. The next best GAA in the league was 2.37 so there was quite a bit of separation for him from the field.

He also represented the QMJHL in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge in 2007-08, was an all-star in 2009 and picked up several Player-of-the-Week awards over his 3-year Q career in with the Wildcats.

(Photo credits:, QMJHL, WHL, Edmonton Oil Kings, University of Alberta)

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