In Gibson We Trust
In this week's installment of 'The Journey' we take a look at Anaheim goaltender John Gibson and Tampa Bay's boy wonder, Jonathan Drouin
Rights: Anaheim Ducks
Drafted in the 2nd round (39th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
G, 6' 3", 212lbs, born July 14, 1993 (20yrs-old)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
In Gibson We Trust
Gibson is likely the best goaltending prospect in hockey right now and the future of the USA/Ducks crease. He has had a remarkably consistent career at every level. He started off with the US National Development Program playing for the under-17 team, under-18 team and finally the USNDT. Even as a youngster he was turning in spectacular numbers averaging a .920 save percentage through those years.
The Kitchener Rangers selected Gibson in the 11th round of the 2009 OHL Priority Selection while he still had two years committed to the USNDP. John would not disappoint, turning in a .932 SP and .926 SP in those years leading to his second round selection by the NHL's Ducks of Anaheim. He joined the Rangers for the 2011-12 OHL season as an 18-year-old and appeared in 32 games. Gibson showed what he was made of going 21-10-0 with a .928 SP and started every game for the Rangers in the post-season. Unfortunately they would fall in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual OHL Champion London Knights. Gibson had a .938 SP and a respectable 2.67 GAA in the playoff run.
Gibson: NHL Signed, Sealed But Not Yet Delivered
The Ducks signed Gibson to a three-year entry-level contract after his stellar showing the previous season but he would return to Kitchener for another OHL season in 2012-13. The young net-minder picked up right where he left off. Carrying a .928 SP into the playoffs, John would start all 10 games for the Rangers but once again would fall to the Knights from London, this time in the second round. He had a sparkling .946 SP and 2.17 GAA despite the early exit.
During the season he also led Team USA into the World Junior Championships in Russia. Not only did the USA squad win the gold medal but their young puck-stopper was off the charts with a .955 save percentage and 1.36 goals against average on his way to being named the tournament MVP.
After the Rangers were ousted by the Knights, Gibson had seen the last of the OHL and joined the AHL's Norfolk Admirals (Anaheim's farm club) appearing in one game. It was a shock to the 19-year-olds system when he was shelled in the contest and pulled after 40 minutes. The .857 SP is the only time in his young career he fell below a .905 save percentage. (.905 was as a 16-year-old) Gibson then once again joined Team USA, this time on the men's stage, for the World Championships. In five games he had a 1.56 GAA and a .951 SP.
Gibson to the Pro's
John started the 2013 season as an Admiral in Norfolk. After a mid-season call up presented no playing opportunities, he posted a respectable .919 SP with a 2.34 GAA in 45 AHL contests. Then it happened, Gibson was recalled to the Ducks where he would start his first NHL game, a shutout. That earned him a second start, a 5-2 win over the potent San Jose Sharks. At this point Gibson is playing like he could be a Vezina candidate not too far down the road. I know it's early but really, how early is it? Since the Olympic break Ducks starter Jonas Hiller has stumbled to the tune of a .849 save percentage and is 4-4-3 over that span. This includes a current three game personal losing streak where he has an .826 SP with a 3.66 GAA. Gibson has played so well since taking the net, that he is even being mentioned in what if's. As in, what if Gibson continues to play like this, could he start the playoffs for the Ducks? With Hiller a pending UFA and Gibson the heir apparent, would it be completely out of this world for that to happen? Perhaps the Ducks owe it to Hiller to start him in the playoffs. He did after-all have a huge hand in getting them to where they are right now. However should Hiller stumble, I could easily see Gibson taking the reins and shining bright. He is just that good.
If he is available in your league you should immediately make him unavailable. Gibson will lead this team into the future and has shown no signs that he will be anything less than a top tender in the NHL. With a strong team in front of him he will have every opportunity to be a star as soon as next season. Hiller will likely not be brought back, especially if Gibson continues to shine as he has the past two games. It is a very small sample size but looking at his career numbers there is nothing to show he shouldn't be just as advertised, All-Star material.
Starting goaltender upside – should be picked up NOW. Starting as soon as this fall.
Rights: Tampa Bay Lightning
Drafted in 1st round (3rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft
LW/C, 5' 11", 192lbs, born March 28, 1995 (19yrs old)
Hometown: Ste-Agathe, QC, CAN
What some people forget about Jonathan Drouin is that the Mooseheads second overall draft-pick in 2011 is a year younger than most of his NHL draft class. Most people thought he would stick with the Lightning after he was taken third overall in the NHL Entry Draft but it was not to be. Drouin needed to see another year in junior and continue to work on his overall game before he would be ready to jump to the NHL level. Although he was likely good enough for the AHL, his age prevented that option.
He would attempt to lead the Mooseheads to a second consecutive Memorial Cup. This time he would be the primary driving force as his partner in crime, Nate MacKinnon made the jump to Colorado. There was much speculation that this left a bad taste in the mouth of Drouin but if so, it is part of growing and likely something he needed to experience.
Drouin Slow Out the Gate
Drouin is looking a little injury prone early in his career but at this point it is a bit too soon to start worrying about it. He was slowed by injury last season but it didn't stop him from throwing up 105 points (41 goals) in 49 games. He then went on to post 35 points in 17 playoff games on the way to a Memorial Cup Championship. On many nights Nathan MacKinnon was the focal point but Drouin certainly had a large hand in the drive.
After getting over a mild groin strain early in 2013-14 he went on to show flashes of brilliance posting absurd numbers like 10 points in three games (numerous times) and went on to two player of the week honours because of it.
In December he hit a wall, literally. Future Lightning team-mate Adam Erne put Jonathan into the boards face first with a nasty hit from behind. With a concussion it was questioned if Drouin would make it back for the World Junior Championships, a key ladder on his way to developing into a regular NHL player. The concussion would clear (just in time) and he would go on to wear an 'A' on his jersey for Canada while scoring nine points in seven games. They would eventually lose in the bronze medal game to Russia.
Drouin the Wizard
Back with the Mooseheads, Drouin went on a tear scoring 12 points in the first four games back with his QMJHL club. More player-of-the-week honours came with it and he straight up dominated competition at times. Streaks like back-to-back four point efforts and at one point 18 points in nine games proved Drouin well on his way to being too good for junior hockey. If you have had the privilege to see him play, it is obvious at times that when he wants to go, he goes. Nothing can stop him. He has a clear ability to take the puck and beat everyone on the ice by himself. When he wants to, he looks like a man among boys, although only 19-years-old.
Some "experts" questioned his commitment and willingness to put in 110 percent day in and day out. I have to think it was hard to get motivated going back to junior when at times it looked in camp like he belonged in the NHL. Still, unmotivated or not, he cruised to 108 points in 46 games for Halifax.
Once the playoffs hit, it looked as if he was just waiting for the 'real season' to begin. Drouin has dominated his way to 24 points in 8 games (as of printing) and that includes leading the team to a four-game sweep of the Charlottetown Islanders. With the series capped by an 11-2 blow-out, all Jonathan did in that final game was post two goals and two assists. Big deal. (Sarcasm of course)
The Moose are up 3-1 in the second round versus the Gatineau Olympiques heading into game five tonight in Gatineau. Drouin has two goals and 11 points in the first four games and has been in on all but four Halifax goals. Can you say "man on a mission"?
There is no doubt Drouin will be in the Lightning lineup to start the season in October. His resume includes accolades such as Top Professional Prospect, QMJHL MVP and CHL Player-of-the-Year. He was a first team All-Star and is a Memorial Cup Champion. The list goes on and will be even longer when all is said and done this season. He is more than ready for the NHL and should produce right out of the blocks.
He isn't a speedster by any means but he uses his vision and hockey sense to get himself into all the right areas and out of trouble. He has unmatched creativity and while he can score, he is far more valuable as a playmaker. He makes everyone around him jump to another level. It may be a bit early to say this but it won't be long before he is making Lightning fans forget about Martin St. Louis and he is nearly 20 years his junior. I expect Drouin to get a look with Stamkos, especially with the emergence of Johnson at center but it will take camp to see how that pans out. Either way he should slot comfortably into the top-6.
First line upside – If for some reason you have won the lottery and he ISN'T already owned in your league, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!
Instant fantasy relevance starting this fall.
Brad Wilson – @TALKwillie
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