Soon to be 20 year old Mark Visentin made the most of his time at the recent Phoenix Coyote Development Camp. Not only did he lead the OHL in goals against average and post 1.99 and 10 shutouts. This was an improvement from his 2010-2011 season when he was named OHL Goaltender of the Year with a 2.52 goals against average. From the Arizona Republic story by Tariq Lee:
“He’s real competitive for a young guy; he takes his craft very seriously,” said Brad Treliving, Coyotes vice president of hockey operations/assistant general manager. “He’s always looking at ways to improve; he’s a very driven kid, and he’s got ability.”
He’s not yet 20 years old and just laying waste to the OHL. Meaning, he should start the year in the Portland Pirates organization as the back up to newly signed to Chad Johnson. A couple of years in the AHL will give the mental, emotional, and physical preparedness it takes to be a NHL goalie.
Think about two goalies who are considered to be the top of their game. Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick. Both were on the 2010 Olympic team for USA to back up Ryan Miller. Tim Thomas was in the middle of a great season that started with him winning the Vezina trophy in 2009. Jonathan was a solid goalie in terms of fundamentals and athletic ability.
Tim Thomas was a four year (1993-1997) collegiate goaltender at University of Vermont Catamounts (college of Erin Wente) then played in the ECHL, IHL, and the HIFK in the Swedish league in 1997-1998. Back to the AHL to start the 1998-1999 season and then back to HIFK. In 1999 he played 36 games with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL. From 2000-2002 he was in Europe playing. In 2002 he finally stuck with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Save the lockout year, he has been in the Boston area ever since. It took Tim Thomas eight years for him to get to the Bruins and become an everyday goalie. After the 2010 Olympics, he lost the starting job to Ruukka Rask at the end of the season and the playoffs. Thomas had to start the 2010-2011 season as the back-up to Rask. During the season he put together another incredible performance that led to his second Vezina Trophy win and being the main reason why the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.
Johnathon Quick has been winning national championships since his youth in Darien, CT. New England Prep Championships soon followed, then leading his collegiate hockey team University of Mass-Amherst to the playoffs. His first NHL game was in 2007. His first shutout was in 2008. Quick played one season in the ECHL and then started the 2008-2009 season with the LA Kings in the AHL.
So even after winning in the NHL, getting a shutout, being a force as a collegiate goalie, he was sent to the AHL. It took 14 games before he was recalled to the Kings, and he has been there ever since. At age 23 is when he first found consistent success as an NHL goalie. At age 26 he wins his first Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe.
Jonathan Quick and Tim Thomas were allowed to develop against players their age and skill level. They were allowed to shine before being exposed to the next level and not hastened into the system where confidence could have been destroyed. That is when serious damage is done to the player that sometimes cannot be repaired. Think about it. You are the guy, the playmaker, the one that is talked about, the five star recruit. You are put at too high a competition level. Now you have been exposed, your confidence gone, and you start searching for answers. You question your skills, your ability, even your style of play. That player is very difficult to get back to where they could be vs. where they should be.
Looking at Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick, there were no signs it would take Tim Thomas ten years (2004 is a lost year in terms of development) and Jonathan Quick only three years to get to the Veznina winning level and being an everyday dependable starter. The Coyotes should take their time with Mark Visentin and make sure they develop every aspect of the goalie. That is the best thing that Sean Burke can do for Visentin at this time.