Note from Rossi: Jesse Marshall, a local hockey blogger, has agreed to share his unique brand of analytical insight on this blog. His contributions will appear on an as-we-think-of-it basis. Enjoy.
>> RISK OF JARRY SELECTION
When the Penguins drafted goaltender Tristan Jarry with the 44th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, they weren’t picking a young player with a large body of work.
The science of drafting goaltenders in the modern league is by no means exact. It’s risky business and even the most well groomed prospects can fall apart completely. It’s even riskier when you are taking a young player who appeared in a mere 41 games through his first two seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Jarry sat on the bench as Calgary Flames prospect Lauren Brossoit backstopped the Oil Kings to two straight WHL final appearances against the Portland Winterhawks the last two seasons – one of which matriculated into a Memorial Cup appearance. At the time he was drafted, Jarry was coming off a season for which he posted an 18-7 record and made it into only one of the Oil Kings playoff appearances. The Penguins were selecting a goaltender that had a high pedigree with a lack of performances to back it up.
When I spoke with scouts leading up to the 2013 draft, there were a few primary thoughts that made it into the discussion about Tristan Jarry. The first was a slight sense of apprehension about his lack of a starters’ grind. The second was his pedigree and ability to track the puck. The third was that the Oil Kings were losing several key players and a run at a third straight WHL final could potentially be more difficult with an exodus of talent forthcoming.
Fast forward a year, and Jarry is a Memorial Cup champion who has quelled any questions about his ability to handle a large workload on a roster that was perceived as diminished. He posted a 16-4-1 record in the WHL playoffs with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. This season was a grueling on Jarry. He racked up more minutes in net than any goaltender in North America, including the NHL. Jarry logged 5,268 minutes and at the time of his Memorial Cup victory that was 658 minutes more than New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Prior to his time with the Oil Kings, Jarry studied with an academy called Optimal Reaction Sports, which places a focus in a trademarked school of thought called Head Trajectory. Head Trajectory trains goaltenders to track the puck in a way that eliminates delays in reaction. If you had the chance to watch Jarry this season, you probably walked away impressed with his quick legs and lightning-fast glove.
Jarry’s ability to play the puck is already at a professional level. His reflexes are fast and his ability to make second saves is also top-notch. Perhaps there are some improvements to be made in pucks that sneak in via the routine route, but make no mistake – Jarry has exhibited all the tools to become a starter at the NHL level.
It’s a selection that could work perfectly for the Penguins as Marc-Andre Fleury approaches his 30s.
Jesse Marshall is co-founder of Faceoff-Factor, a site that breaks down the Penguins by using nontraditional methods such as the study of advanced statistics. Read his work at www.faceoff-factor.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmarshfof