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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Is the AHL Really Better Than the NHL for Prospect Goaltenders?

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Everyone seems to have the same questions about raising a No. 1 netminder. Plus, two-goalie systems get a workout in the conference finals, and NHL journalists are just like you: trying to act cool when they run into Tyler Seguin at the airport.

Andrei Vasilevskiy went pretty much directly to the NHL. Should other goalie prospects do the same?
Andrei Vasilevskiy went pretty much directly to the NHL. Should other goalie prospects do the same?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It's not just you, and it's not just the Dallas Stars: The entire NHL seems to be trying to figure out the future of goaltending.

With rookies and relative greenhorns like Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy creating so much of the conference finals narrative, Matt Larkin examines the assumption that goalies are best developed in feeder leagues rather than as NHL backups:

Ninety-two goalies played at least one NHL game this season. Only two, or 2.2 percent, were selected in the past three drafts. Peruse the pages of Future Watch and you'll find dozens of farm-club goaltenders in their early 20s, many of them good enough to be NHL backups. Playing a lot in the AHL versus a little in the world's best league is the norm. But should it be? What's the best way to develop a goaltender?

The divide is clear. Players want to be up, while team executives and goaltending coaches want them down for seasoning. Sometimes, it takes retirement and crossing over to a new role to gain perspective. Just ask former NHLer Corey Hirsch, who, as St. Louis goaltending coach, shepherded the Blues' crowded crease from 2010-11 to 2013-14. Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak locked down the net at the NHL level, meaning Hirsch had to manage future stars Jake Allen and Ben Bishop on the farm. Hirsch is convinced Allen and Bishop are high-end commodities today, Bishop in particular, because they each played several years in Peoria.

"When I was younger, I always thought, ‘Oh, it's better to play in the NHL,' and I used to always push the NHL, when actually I should have just been worried about playing where I was," Hirsch said. "Everybody wants to be in the NHL. The hard part is you have to check your ego. What I learned is that, as a goalie, your physical skills get better in practice, but goaltending is such a head game that you have to play to know how to deal with certain situations mentally. Sitting on the bench, you're not developing that skill. You're getting better physically in practice, but you're not developing those things to do in game situations."

Larkin makes it clear that most teams still hold to the AHL-apprenticeship model as the regime of choice. But there are exceptions to every rule, and we're watching one of them right now:

...Tampa Bay Lightning stopper Andrei Vasilevskiy, last season's top-ranked Future Watch goalie, saw just snippets of duty in the KHL and AHL before playing for the Bolts. In his age-20 season, he appeared in just 25 AHL games versus 20 NHL, including playoffs. He even played in the Stanley Cup final, replacing the injured Bishop, and Vasilevskiy has been thrust into duty as an injury replacement again this post-season.

But the conditions have to be perfect for a youngster to avoid ruining himself in a backup role. It helps to have a starter on hand who doesn't feel threatened and is comfortable as a mentor, like Roberto Luongo to [Cory] Schneider in their Vancouver days. And the backup job description can't mirror that of guys who played behind Martin Brodeur during his routine 75-game campaigns.

There's much more at the link. [The Hockey News]

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Is there really any chance Jamie Benn's next contract cracks the $10 million mark? Carolyn Wilke compared his percentage of the salary cap to that of every other NHL forward who has played more than 500 minutes since 2008, and here's what she found. [Today's Slapshot]

Last night, in the Essos Eastern Conference:

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning dueled through some dangerous offense and a touch of shaky goaltending on both sides, until a Jason Garrison shot deflected off Tyler Johnson (or his behind) in overtime to give the Bolts a 4-3 win. [NHL]

Here's that OT winner, including Johnson's butt-end deflection in super slo-mo.

Now that Trevor Daley is out for the season, the Pens need at least one other defenseman to step it up a little.

Meanwhile, Dales can't be feeling any worse about his injury, unless he can.

The Pens will have to decide whether Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury can deliver a must-win Game 6.

Elsewhere, the St. Louis Blues will roll with Game 4 winner Jake Allen as they try to retake the series lead against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals.

Esa Lindell will come back to Texas with a silver medal after Canada shut out Finland to win gold at the IIHF World Championships, 2-0. [CBC]

Here's the slightly more Stars-centric recap from Mark Stepneski. [Stars Inside Edge]

And THN's Ryan Kennedy had this to say about Canuckistan's defensive style, which sounds quite a bit like that of a team we know well.

Ultraprospect Patrik Laine may have missed the top step of the podium, but he still netted tournament MVP honors, which can't hurt his upcoming draft status. [Sportsnet]

We all know the big names that are expected to go in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, so David Hahn has assembled a list of this year's prime draft re-entry candidates: passed over in 2015 but potentially a huge value for teams that scout carefully. [Hockey's Future]

Pavel Datsyuk helped Russia beat the USA for the bronze medal, and his next move will be to meet with Ken Holland to "make sure the [team has] options" as he plans a transition out of the Detroit Red Wings. [Detroit Free Press]

On that topic, Ryan Rishaug of TSN posted this intriguing morsel yesterday.

Finally: TSN's James Duthie pretends to be irritated about running into Tyler Seguin at the airport, over Instagram.

Always sucks getting stuck to that loud tattoo'd guy at the airport gate.

A photo posted by James Duthie (@tsnduthie) on