The path to the NHL is an incredibly challenging one to embark upon for players of all positions, but it is especially difficult for a goaltender.
The reason why comes down to simple mathematics: there just aren’t as many positions available for goalies as there are for forwards and defensemen — usually just two per team at all professional levels of the sport.
That difficult reality is the same even for players that were high draft picks, as Dallas Stars prospect Philippe Desrosiers can surely attest.
The Stars’ 2nd round pick, 54th overall, in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is currently in his third professional season, spending most of that time with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, with a few brief stints with the AHL’s Texas Stars mixed in. This season has been no different, with Desrosiers playing down in the ECHL while Landon Bow and Mike McKenna split duties for Texas.
Now in the final year of his entry-level contract and set to become a restricted free agent at the end of this season, where Desrosiers will play in 2018-19 is up in the air.
Bow is under contract and set to return to Texas, and even though McKenna is 35 and a pending unrestricted free agent he has been a great fit within the organization and could get brought back for another year. Texas’ 1-2 punch in net could be the exact same as it was this season. Whether the Stars would prefer to extend Desrosiers and keep him in the ECHL for another season or cut him free so that he can pursue an AHL opportunity somewhere else (like they did with Maxime Lagace last season, who signed with Vegas and ended up winning six games in the NHL) remains to be seen.
Desrosiers, to his credit, is certainly making a case for himself to be in the running for a spot in Texas next season. The 22-year-old was Idaho’s go-to goalie for most of 2017-18, producing a solid 23-9-5 record and a .913 save percentage. He started one game for Texas secured the win, allowing only one goal.
He appears to have saved his best for last, however, turning in a couple of big games to keep the Steelheads alive in their playoff series against the Allen Americans.
Desrosiers allowed three goals on 24 shots in Game 1 and didn’t start in Games 2 and 3, ceding that spot to a goalie named Tomas Sholl who joined Idaho late in the season and entered the playoffs on an impressive tear. Sholl fared no better against Allen, and suddenly facing a 3-0 series deficit, the Steelheads again turned to Desrosiers, who stopped 27 of 28 to win Game 4.
Desrosiers’ Game 5 was even more impressive, stopping the Americans 41 times on 42 shots to eke out a 2-1 win and keep Idaho alive for another day.
Steelheads win Game 5 2-1. Philippe Desrosiers with 40 saves on 41 shots and an assist. Desrosiers also had an assist in Game 4 in another 2-1 win.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) April 23, 2018
Just how far can late-season heroics go in determining a player’s evaluation and future within an organization? That’s a good question. But if he’s not in there already, successfully capping off a comeback from down 3-0 in a playoff series would certainly make Desrosiers deserving of being in the conversation about the second goalie job in Texas next season.
Game 6 between Idaho and Allen takes places tonight in Boise.
As was the topic du jour in Monday’s Daily Links here on Defending Big D, the Texas Stars pulled off an inspiring overtime win over the Ontario Reign, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Roope Hintz has two assists in the three games so far, while Remi Elie and Denis Gurianov have goals and Gavin Bayreuther has an assist. Jason Dickinson has been held off the score sheet so far, but he’s been playing banged up. Bow has only played in Game 3, allowing four goals on 22 shots before getting pulled for McKenna.
Game 4 for Texas against Ontario is tonight, with Game 5 (if necessary) not coming until Monday.
North American Juniors
Nick Caamano and the Hamilton Bulldogs have opened up a decisive 3-0 series lead over the Kingston Frontenacs in their playoff series, putting Jason Robertson’s club on the brink of elimination. Caamano picked up a goal and an assist in both of the first two games of the series before his 12-game point-scoring streak was snapped in Game 3, while Robertson has one goal in the series. Game 4 goes tonight.
Ondrej Vala and the Everett Silvertips took a 2-1 series lead over the Tri-City Americans on Monday night, eschewing their normal defensive style of hockey and exploding for eight goals in an 8-4 win. The American didn’t lose a game in their first two rounds, which goes to show just how tough Everett has been to beat lately. Vala has no points so far in the series, but has spent most of it playing on the team’s top defensive pairing.
Miro Heiskanen logged a team-high 23:24 of ice time as HIFK beat TPS in the bronze medal game of the Liiga playoffs. He is now expected to head over to Denmark to join the Finnish team at the IIHF World Championship.
Also worth noting about Heiskanen: Jim Nill confirmed yet again on Monday that the Stars plan on bringing him over to North America next season.