Depth Chart Dementia

Justin Goldman




Over the last week, the NHL was laden with situations where new faces created tighter spaces in the crease. And for scouts everywhere, it provided us with plenty of entertainment. I mean, what other choice did Dan Bylsma really have after John Curry allowed five goals on 14 shots against Vancouver on Saturday? He simply had to put in the 19-year-old Alex Pechursky, who was signed on an emergency basis. But for so many good reasons, it was the right choice.


Could you imagine the painstaking process of deciding which goalie to start after one is sudden injured or coming off a terrible performance? A coach's ability to make good goalie decisions is admirable, for there are infinite factors to ponder, including age, experience, confidence, rust and even things like energy level in practices. But most of the time, coaches make easy decisions because the answer is hitting them in the face like a giant sack of doorknobs.


Even Senators coach Cory Clouston said, “Whatever goaltender is going to get us the win is the one we’re going to go with…” over the weekend. So how could you not expect Ottawa to keep rolling with Mike Brodeur, their 26-year-old AHL "prospect"? Pascal Leclaire is living out his "Band-Aid Boy" status and Brian Elliott has been a big disappointment, especially considering how strong he played in the second half of last season. At least they made the right decision by letting their former goalie coach Eli Wilson walk.


Clouston's approach not only makes the most sense, it's the most effective when having to handle depth chart issues in goal. Just ride the hot hand, regardless of all other factors. And remember – any time a goalie gets a string of starts in a row, he becomes a fantasy option worth noting. If he's younger than 21, regardless of win or lose, he's getting a boost in long-term value due to the experience gained. And since so many goalies either returned from or suffered an injury last week, it led to many more prospects experiencing NHL action sooner than expected.




Thanks to Brent Johnson's lower-body injury and Marc-Andre Fleury's fractured finger, Curry ended up with the start against the Canucks on Saturday night. It did not go well at all, as he was lit up for five goals against on just 14 shots.


Curry started off with some solid confidence and movement, but it completely crumbled after Henrik Sedin banked a shot off his blocker arm and into the net. That goal virtually eliminated all of Curry's confidence and focus, as he was not the same from that point on. Yes, the puck was bouncing like crazy, which does take a little blame off of his shoulders, but the fact remains that he was totally shook after allowing a weak goal.


Moving forward, Curry's rank in the Top-100 Prospects Rankings will drop. I believe his size will be an issue at the NHL level, similar to what I see in Vesa Toskala and Jose Theodore. Curry does have a huge heart, amazing perseverance and a lot of other aspects of mental fortitude I really like, but after this game, his future is as a long-term keeper is not as bright. As long as he is with the Penguins, he won't get much of an opportunity anyways.




This was by far the most interesting and entertaining goalie story of the week. Pechursky, a 19-year-old Russian currently playing in his first WHL season, was signed by Pittsburgh to