2018-19 Season Retrospective: Part 1, Goaltenders

The Farmies Season Comprehensive Part 1

Goaltenders

 

Whats up R/Canucks, It’s a pretty shitty (weather wise) start to a long weekend so I thought I’d give my brethren something to read as they sit indoors pining for some god.damn. SUNSHINE on their weekend!

 

I had originally planned to examine every single player of the team in one post, but I was nearing 2-3 hours of going over spreadsheets, streamables and AHL.com stats to put together 2700 words just on the goaltenders alone, so I thought to avoid the massive wall of text, I’d break this Season Comprehensive down into parts to be released in installments! Because I think a full thing comprising all 52 members of the Comets this season would be like 50,000 words or some shit… so I’m going to not overwhelm myself with work and avoid rushing things for the sake of!

 

Goaltenders

 

In total the Comets had 9 goalies dress for games as starters or strictly as backups. For this section I’ll only focus (for obvious reasons) on the goaltenders that actually started or provided relief in games that ended their time as members of the Utica Comets, so that leaves out Alex Sakellaropoulos, Devin Buffalo and Connor LaCouvee.

 

Thatcher Demko

 

Starts relief Wins Losses OT Losses SO Losses Shots Against Saves Goals Against SV% GAA
14 2 8 5 1 0 416 379 37 0.911 2.58

 

Thatcher had a bit of a rough go to start the season…after missing the first 18 games of the season due to a concussion, he then joined a Comets group that was in the midst of a 4 game losing streak and one that only had 1 regulation win in the month of November…coupled with that, upon his arrival, Olli Juolevi went down with what would end up being a season ending knee injury, as well as a foot injury to Jalen Chatfield that would see him out of action until the last game of January (when Thatcher had already left for the Canucks). One of the upsides of his return was that since there were SO many injuries, that first game was basically like covering the summer prospects tourney, only the game actually mattered and there were stakes to it! In Thatcher’s short time before FINALLY being brought up to the Canucks fulltime, he managed to earn 23% of the Comets victories on the season. Overall I thought his time in Utica was nothing short of impressive, he pretty much proved why he absolutely needed to be playing in the NHL…His athleticism and confidence just oozes at the AHL level and he absolutely needs time in the show to be able to carry that game over into next season.

 

Highlights

 

Grade: A

I guess I’m handing out grades

 

Richard Bachman

 

Starts relief Wins Losses OT Losses SO Losses Shots Against Saves Goals Against SV% GAA
9 0 5 4 0 0 285 252 33 .884 3.76

 

All in all, a pretty brutal for the Comets defacto #2 goalie; he effectively LOST the starter position to Ivan Kulbakov at the start of the season after going 1-3-0-0 in his first 4 starts of the season, posting an average SV% 0.870 and a GAA 4.294, wheras Kulby ended up going 3-2-0-0 with a marginally better SV% of 0.890 and a GAA of 3.472. So yeah pretty brutal goaltending start for the Comets squad sans Demko, and not a good look for the org when your 3rd string goalie is outplaying your defacto #2; also totally worth noting that Marek Mazanec was the ONLY tendy this year to earn a shutout. Yes, Bachmans year was quite disappointing, to both the Comets brass, and I’m sure to Bachman himself…after being called up to the Canucks and having about the worst Canucks start that any relief goalie could have, then follows that up being the hard #2 to Demko, where credit to Bachman, he did manage to earn 4 straight wins as the backup, and was legitimately on his way to the team’s first shutout performance when he went down with an Achilles injury (which btw, sounds fucking horrific).

 

Highlights

 

I know it’s not much for highlights, but to be completely honest, it wasn’t a great season for Bachman, and with another year on his contract, plus the contracts to Leighton and Mazanec that were dished out, I genuinely wonder what the Comets do here. Mazanec looked shaky at best, Leighton was QUITE reliable as a starter but at his age, its tough to bank on him…so do the Comets double down on the pick they spent to acquire Mazanec? By all accounts Michael DiPietro is coming to Utica next season as he’s pretty much accomplished all that is possible in Junior. By all accounts it should be Mazanec with MDP backing up, but that additional year on Bachmans contract will make things strange. Bachman seems to be a great guy in the Comets locker room and I know this management regime is ALL ABOUT room/character guys to bring up the youth…so I genuinely don’t know what the plan is here!

 

Hard to fault him for the injuries, but even prior to the Canucks call-up he wasn’t winning the Comets games, so realistically I have to give him a…

Grade: C-

 

Marek Mazanec

 

Starts relief Wins Losses OT Losses SO Losses Shots Against Saves Goals Against SV% GAA
9 1 3 5 0 1 198 173 25 0.903 3.01

 

This one is a bit interesting…Kind of have to examine this one piece by piece…so we all can agree the Canucks bungled there goalie management SUPER FUCKING hard this season. Consensus was, Demko was done playing in the A, he and his team felt the time was now to become a bonafide #2 on the NHL, and Jimbo being the proactive guy that he is made the move on Anders Nilsson to make space. Unfortunately for Jimbo, injuries to Demko (or was it Marky) left him with no choice but to either sign one of his AHL goalies to an NHL deal, or call up MDP on an emergency basis….so naturally the option was, call up the 19 year old and hope to not have to play him….oops…they have to play him… so whats next? Well, Demkos better so I guess we don’t need MDP so now what? Wellp lets sign Michael Leighton since Mike McKenna got stolen by Philly…then uh, oh after the MDP fiasco, NOW lets sign him to an NHL contract and expose him on waivers….THEN lets trade one of our 7th round picks for Marek Mazanec so we don’t embarrass ourselves again!

 

That’s all good and grand… unfortunately for Marek Mazanec, he joined the Comets at quite literally the worst time possible. By Mazanec’s first start, the team had not won a game in regulation in 9 games. In fact after Mazanec’s first start, the Comets would go on to lose their next 12 of their final 18 games. Getting traded to a new team in the minors is one thing…getting traded to a dumpster fire with a non-existent D-core is another. I find it hard to even evaluate Mazanec’s game because on one hand, he’s the only guy to get a shutout on the season and was the netminder for the Comets only 2 regulation wins in their final 24 games of play. That last line is no joke btw… that’s how brutal that final stretch of the season was for the Farm. So yeah, I don’t have a lot to work with for Mazanec…he seemed to gain confidence with more playing time, but I cant sit hear and say his time was successful because his time with the Comets was a huge question mark for the entire squad, not just he.

 

So again, legit not sure what the Canucks org does with their overflow of 3rd/4th string goalies given the assets and contracts they gave out to obtain them, given the injuries to Bachman/Leighton, and the pending arrival of Michael DiPietro. I think Mazanec is definitely worth an extended look, but I know the Canucks love their veterans who can help steer the youth in the direction they want, so having a guy who’s learning English by watching Friends MIGHT not be THE guy for MDP’s development, maybe that’s a role for Leighton or Bachman…really not too sure! I like Mazanec though, his interview detailing his journey to the AHL and the difficulty of learning the language made me appreciate the hard work he’s putting in!

 

Grade: B-

 

Michael Leighton

 

Starts relief Wins Losses OT Losses SO Losses Shots Against Saves Goals Against SV% GAA
17 2 8 9 1 0 487 438 49 0.901 4.46

 

Well I have to give props to the 37 year old netminder who almost called it quits this season. He was brought in to plug a hole and he filled it admirably to start! In Ferbruary, the Comets went on an 8 game points earning streak that was a huge part in keeping them in the playoff hunt so late into the season despite basically losing every single game starting in March. But yeah 6 of those 8 games they earned points were on the back of Michael Leightons veteran skill. He isn’t overly flashy, he’s just a grizzled vet who’s seen it all, and despite a few softies, looked to be pretty quick and spry and was able to make quite a few timely saves to keep the Comets in a lot of those February games!

 

Highlights

 

Again not a lot of highlights, but from viewing my streamable account, looks like nobody gives a shit about clutch saves so I sort of stopped recording them in the back-half of the season.

 

Grade: B-

Hard to give him anything lower since he was a major reason the Comets had that point streak in February. Props to him for getting himself an NHL contract out of it; absolutely no clue what the regime’s plan is this summer…but Leighton was clutch during a dark stretch of Comets hockey and was a big reason why the JB probably isn’t canned right now…because without Leighton, that’s probably all of February, March and April that the Comets spent losing…which for a team in a rebuild, is pretty fucking atrocious.

 

Ivan Kulbakov

 

Starts relief Wins Losses OT Losses SO Losses Shots Against Saves Goals Against SV% GAA
25 0 10 9 6 0 768 686 82 0.893 3.50

 

I think Kulbakov’s runs with the Comets this season have to be my favorite storyline from the season. The guy was NOT supposed to play any games this year by all accounts. Bachman/Demko was the duo, but when Demko went down with injury, Kulby got the call, and he was clutch for the Comets…then when Bachman got called up to the Canucks, this should’ve been like the ultimate tire fire situation for the Comets and Canucks org…but Kulbakov showed the fuck up…

During a run of 19 games with the Comets to start the season, Kulbakov ended up starting 7 game straights including 2 back-to-back weekends. Was he in over his head? Absolutely, his gloveside needed work BADLY, but the guy was a gamer man! In those first 19 games, Kulby started 12 games and earned points for the team in 7 of them! Not bad for a 3rd string tendy. In his SECOND stint with the Comets this season, he again had a 7 game stretch of starts including another set of back-to-back weekends. In those final 12 starts, Kulby went 5-4-3-0, earning points in 8 of those 12 games! Again he wasn’t lighting it up like he should be the next Canucks call up. But he performed admirably for a team that put a whole lot of nothing in front of him and told him to win 7 straight starts.

 

For perspective in his 7 game stretch of starts in November, heres who WASN’T in the Comets lineup,

  • Biega, Darcy(x3), Blujus(x5), Lind, Gaunce, Gaudette, Boucher, Archibald, Hamilton or Graham…

 

In his SECOND 7 game run, here’s who wasn’t in the lineup – put the number of games missed by players in brackets if they didn’t miss all 7.

  • Biega, Chatfield, Sautner, Blujus (x3), Jasek (x5), Gaudette (x3), Arseneau (x5), MacMaster (x5), Woods (x6), Gadjovich (x2), Archibald, Hamilton( (x2), Juolevi, Palmu, Carcone, Graham (x1),

 

Like the entire crop of mainstays to the Comets lineup were gone for both of those major runs that Kulby had for the team, and he was completely serviceable in that role. I doubt anything more comes from his time, maybe he’s a perma-3rd string goalie, but I feel like if a team took a chance, he could be a decent AHL backup.

 

Highlights

 

Grade: B+

I give him a higher grade because, as a 3rd string goalie, you shouldn’t depend on them as much as the Canucks org relied on Kulby this season, and he came up huge despite the flaws in his game (glove side and wrist shot reaction time etc.) … I was pretty hard on him earlier in the season for those flaws, but now that I’m doing this retrospective it’s pretty easy to see just how hung out to dry he was.

 

Ty Reichenbach

 

Starts relief Wins Losses OT Losses SO Losses Shots Against Saves Goals Against SV% GAA
1 0 0 1 0 0 25 22 3 0.880 3.05

 

Not much to say really about Ty, barely got a look at him at the end of the season…looked nervous and shaky in his lone start, did have a nice save on Jayson Megna, but otherwise he looked to have lost vision of the pucks on several occasions that led to goals against. Plus there was the other one where he was completely caught off his postleading to a pretty weak sharp angle goal against. Granted its not like the Comets were playing good hockey during Ty’s time with the Comets, so I can’t really fault him for giving up softies, when his team in front of him is coasting…plus this was right after their very energy-filled 8-1 victory against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins so once again the Comets brass put an unprepared goalie into the Lions den in the middle of a triple-header weekend…not really SURPRISED they did this, but still not really fair to a guy trying to break into the AHL.

 

Highlights

 

 

Grade: C

Not really given a fair look, would’ve preferred him getting the Friday slot, and just given Mazanec the final two back-to-back instead. I mean if fucking Kulbakov can do it 4 times for you as a 3rd stringer, then so should Mazanec, but hey I’m no coach! His time with the Comets probably ends here, but hopefully he gets a shot with another team in the future who can give him a better look, maybe Philly still is on the goalie collection train?

 

2019-20 Season Guesses

 

I’m guessing the COmets go with this to start next season

 

  1. Marek Mazanec – starter
  2. Michael DiPietro – backup
  3. Michael Leighton – let go in free agency
  4. Richard Bachman – traded to another AHL squad in exchange for a D-man

 

Unless MDP elects to stay another year in Junior (which I THINK he can do? someone might have to confirm), I dont see Leighton or Bachman in the Canucks short or long term plans, they spent the asset to obtain Mazanec, and with JB entering a contract year, there’s no way he just lets Mazanec go for nothing.

 

There is also the possiblity JB sells high on Markstrom or Demko in the offseason…lord knows Marky’s value is at its peak, they wont want to protect TWO goalies at the Seattle expansion draft so why not try get something for one of the two while they can….Just watching Martin Jones fall on his face against the Knights makes me wonder if JB attempts another trade with Doug Wilson to try and get one of the many superstar D-men in exchange? Then our current tandem becomes Demko/Mazanec, and Bachman remains the starter in Utica with MDP or Leighton depending on MDP’s decision.

 

I love Marky, but if we can trade him somewhere to get a 1st round pick, or a legit Top 2 Dman or winger for EP, i say do it…the values never been higher, and with the expansion draft looming, you might as well be proactive now before its too late!

 

For now, that’s going to be it for this retrospective…this took me a lot longer than I thought was going to take, and ended up being a lot wordier than I was expecting…and that’s just for 6 goalies! Now to cover the 46 forwards and Dmen who played for the team this year!! So don’t expect the next edition later today or anything, this is where I’m going to try my hardest to get interviews or BRIEF Q&A’s with some players for their thoughts on the season to maybe reduce the just straight analysis and stat posting!

 

Until the next one folks! Enjoy your long weekend’s and Fuck Boston, Fuck Toronto, Fuck Messier, and GO Canucks GO!

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