Goaltending was not the reason why Canada failed to end its World Junior gold-less streak in Alberta. Both Mark Visentin and Scott Wedgewood were adequate netminders that played very well at times during the 2012 event in Edmonton and Calgary. Still, the position is a concern for Hockey Canada moving forward and it won't get any easier in 2013 as it will be four new goalies vying for the coveted role as the starter.
Visentin, Wedgewood and even the other two camp invites (Tyler Bunz and Louis Domingue) are all too old to take another crack at the WJC. So who stands the best chance to be between the pipes for Canada in Ufa, Russia come Boxing Day 2012?
It's a pretty short list of 18-19 year old candidates on the radar right now so it's a good things that the 2013 WJC in Russia is still 10 months away. The summer WJC camp for Hockey Canada will be the early barometer of where things stand for the goalies. Hockey Canada will hold a goaltender evaluation week in June where a dozen or so netminders will attempt to earn one of four invites to the August WJC camp.
It's a long way off but here are what may be considered the four front runners for the job. Please let us know if you think another goalie out there deserves consideration.
1. Malcolm Subban - Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Draft Eligible 2012, top ranked goalie in N.A.
6'1 and 188 lbs
The Bulls netminder has the most history with Hockey Canada having played in net during the 2011 World U18s last April. Canada left Germany empty handed after losing to Russia in the bronze medal game. Subban finished the event with the 6th best SV% (91.28) and the 5th best GAA (2.98) having played in 5 of 7 games.
This year in the OHL, Subban has been exceptional. Although he has been limited thus far to just 20 games because of a groin injury, the Ontario native has shown enough that some feel he should be the leading candidate for the 2013 WJC job. His .937 SV% is tops in the OHL as is his 1.98 GAA.
The late '93 born goalie was 8 days too old to play for Canada at last summer's Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and he was not one of the two members of the 2010 team. That said, one could argue that Subban's rise to the top of his age group among Canadian goalies has developed quickly over the last year.
Subban, younger brother of Montreal Canadiens bleuliner P.K. Subban, is projected to be the first North American netminder chosen this June at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.
2. Laurent Brossoit - Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Drafted: CGY 6th rd (164th overall) 2011
6'3 and 200 lbs
The Oil Kings starter will turn 19 in March and has to be considered the best goaltender his age right now in the WHL, if not the entire CHL. His .914 SV% (3rd) and 2.45 GAA (5th) have him near the top of WHL goaltender stats and it could be argued that despite the offensive heroics of Michael St. Croix this year, the team's MVP may actually be Brossoit.
Brossoit was the first goaltender selected in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft, 26th overall, and has been labeled as the organization's first franchise goaltender since then. He was inconsistent during his 2010-11 rookie campaign but has been nothing short of dependably solid in net for Edmonton this year.
Edmonton currently sits atop the WHL's Eastern Conference standings and are expected to embark on a lengthy playoff run. The potential post season success will rely heavily on the B.C. native but the Oil Kings are legit WHL contenders and that sort of experience would help Brossoit's chances with Hockey Canada a lot.
3. Maxime Lagacé - PEI Rocket (QMJHL)
Undrafted '93 born, Ranked 18th in N.A.
6'2 and 168 lbs
At first glance, Lagacé's numbers would have you wondering why he's on this list. I'll admit, that was my first thought as well but sources indicate to TPS that the PEI Rocket goalie is in fact on the radar for 2013.
Through 43 QMJHL games Lagacé has a bloated 4.31 GAA and unimpressive .877 SV% and the Rocket are currently 16th place in a 17-team league. What part of that sounds encouraging?
Hockey Canada wanted to see him against the Russians during the Subway Super Series back in November and Lagacé played the first game of the series. Russia won the contest 2-0, Lagacé faced just 12 shots on the night.
Still, there must be something that Hockey Canada sees in the Quebec product. If you know what it is, feel free to comment below.
4. Etienne Marcoux - B.B. Armada (QMJHL)
Undrafted '93 born, Ranked 13 in N.A.
6' and 155 lbs
He's not big but he's getting the job done this year in the QMJHL; Etienne Marcoux's 2.79 GAA (5th) and .907 SV% (5th) appear solid but it's fair to wonder how beneficial it has been for him be with the Armada this year. A check at the QMJHL standings shows the Armada ranked 3rd but simply because they are the top team in a relatively dismal division. They are the only West club that is above .500 so how much stock should we put in those stats?
Marcoux, like Lagacé, was passed over during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft which isn't surprising considering a lack of playing time last season and a body type that isn't exactly the trend these days for your typical NHL goalie.
Cole Cheveldave - Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Undrafted '93 born, unranked
5'10 and 170 lbs
Just coming onto the Major Junior scene this year, Cheveldave had been a revelation in Kamloops. The Blazers are in 1st place in the WHL's Western Conference and the little goalie is a big part of that success. His save percentage and goals against average are identical to Brossoit's right now but he has two more shutouts (4 in total) with five fewer games played. Everyone that I have spoken with that has seen him play raves about Cheveldave but considering his size, I'm not surprised to see him unranked by Central Scouting.
Matthew Murray - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Draft Eligible 2012, Ranked 2nd in N.A.
6'4 and 162 lbs
The big goalie from the Soo made a lasting impression during the recent CHL Top Prospects Game. Murray is playing in a support role for Jack Campbell and his regular season numbers don't really help his cause; 4.15 GAA and .872 SV%. Still, if he can have a strong finish, earn an invite to the summer goalie camp and then the August WJC camp... anything is possible. We already know that the December camp is ultra important and getting there depends on a strong start to the CHL season. Murray will be the starter for the Greyhounds next year so will be in a position to play a lot.
Eric Comrie - Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Draft Eligible 2013
6' and 175 lbs
This is outside the box thinking and I have to credit Dean Millard with this suggestion but it does hold some merit. Although the WJC is largely a 19-year-old's tournament, between the pipes is a position that would be less affected by age. Comrie is having a strong WHL rookie campaign, albeit on a very competent and defensively sound team. His 2.54 GAA is 5th best in the WHL but his .899 SV% may suggest that the low goals against is partially because of the team in front of him. Still, Comrie is definitely on Hockey Canada's radar, just maybe not yet for the 2013 WJC team.
(Photos: Aaron Bell / OHL Images, Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oil Kings, QMJHL)