Solid performances in the Calder Cup playoffs could enhance the chances of several netminders making NHL rosters next season.
1 – Jack Campbell
Yes, the Reign bounced out of the Calder Cup Playoffs in Round One, but Campbell's reclamation off the scrap heap of misfit prospects looks to at least be floating. A first-round pick (11th overall) of the Dallas Stars in 2010, Campbell got nearly zero traction since leaving the National Team Development Program and jumping to the CHL.
The OHL did not suit him, nor did the Texas Stars or Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. His first season with the Kings organization appears to have thrown his development curve back into the positive. Going from a few years on the waiver wire to legitimately being a prospect to stash, Campbell might finally put together a season of promise and consistency.
As the Kings traded Ben Bishop's rights to the Dallas Stars earlier this week, is it reasonable to believe Campbell will at least be in the early conversation for the backup position behind Jon Quick.
2 – Pheonix Copley
Copley was toiling for the St. Louis Blues' AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, before a trade deadline deal brought him back to the original organization he signed with out of Western Michigan. Copley stepped right in for the Hershey Bears, and his 2.06 GAA and .933 save percentage helped the Bears bounce Lehigh Valley Phantoms in five games and now have a 2-1 series lead over the Providence Bruins in the second round.
The Capitals are nearly guaranteed to lose Phillip Grubauer this summer, be it from a trade or loss in the expansion draft. Copley, who will be a UFA this July 1, appears to have the inside track for the backup position, as other Washington goalie prospects have failed to materialize in North America.
Copley is a known quantity to the Capitals, and his stops with the Hershey Bears have been successful. Turning over the backup job to Copley looks to be a fairly solid bet.
3 – Jhonas Enroth
Undoubtedly an NHL goalie, the former Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs netminder finds himself with the San Diego Gulls and facing a 2-1 series deficit against the San Jose Barracuda.
Looking at his larger body of work, the disaster in Toronto is an aberration on an otherwise-solid resume. With a large reshuffling of goaltenders, a near certainty this off-season, a big year with the Gulls and his well-timed unrestricted free-agency, Enroth has a great chance to be back in the NHL next season.
4 – Zane McIntyre
McIntyre was a key component of the Providence Bruins overthrowing the AHL regular season champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in five games. McIntyre locked in at a .936 save percentage, and a ridiculous 50-save performance in the deciding Game 5.
Zane McIntyre frustrated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton POenguins by making 50 saves.
McIntyre already had a few cups of coffee with the Bruins this past season, and with the faltering of Malcolm Subban, the open position for the top prospect in the Boston pipeline has McIntyre on the inside track. It's too early to know if the NHL Bruins will look outside the organization for backup help (Hello, Jhonas Enroth?) but McIntyre has overcome a first-round pick to have at least the third position on lock.
5 – Mackenzie Blackwood
The only rookie on the list, Blackwood was decent in 35 starts in his rookie season with the Albany Devils. When the playoffs came around, he followed up a shutout of the Toronto Marlies in Game One with a stinker performance in Game 2, getting yanked before the halfway point, then taking the loss in Game 3.
With the Devils facing elimination, the 21-year-old played a stellar game in a pressure situation, extending the match into a third overtime when the Marlies finally got their second goal after 60 shots on net. Blackwood will return to the AHL next season, but if you have room in your minors to allow a goalie to percolate for a few years, he's worth a spot.
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