Goalie Guild Mailbag #5

Nov 13th 2009, 2:16pm EST

So with the GM meetings taking place this week, and the minimal discussion regarding the removal of the trapezoid rule, I'm interested in your thoughts on a pretty radical idea I had regarding said rule, and the ability for goalies to handle the puck in that area. I call it the Inverted Trapezoid.

Even as a goalie, I'd much rather see something like this happen in the future than our equipment being form-fitted to a goalie's actual size, which is set to take place in time for next season.

Cam Ward

But after letting this sit on The Goalie Guild for a few days, if I had to revise it, I would make the trapezoid a little smaller. Twenty-eight feet across the boards is a pretty long distance, but at the same time, most goalies only need to take one or two pushes to get beyond the trapezoid. Also, most times when the puck is stopped behind the goal line, it's already 8-10 feet away from the center of the net, so another 10-12 feet is not as drastic as it seems.

The whole foundation behind this radical idea is to make playing the puck an actual challenge. So just a heads up that the whole premise of the idea is regarding goalies, not defensemen being protected. There are ways for defenseman to counter-attack being hit from behind, it just takes some awareness and some help from the other defenseman, or even some communication from the goalie.

The rule as it stands right now creates absolutely no challenge for goalies because it does not ask for us to do anything outside our comfort level. If anything, we should be forced to travel a farther distance in order to play the puck.

A few other notes before we dive into this week's mailbag:

+ Feel free to leave your questions and comments at the bottom of the page. Once they are posted, I'm alerted via e-mail and will answer your questions ASAP. You don't have to wait an entire week to get sound fantasy goalie advice.

+ We have another Live Guild Chat tonight starting at 8:00p EST. There's more and more goalie fans joining these every week, many of which are quite knowledgeable about the position and can provide even more insight and analysis regarding your fantasy questions. Or if you just want to talk to some goalie fans, we discuss just about everything while watching the games.

What are your thoughts on Carolina signing Manny Legace? How come the Hurricanes didn't bring up Justin Peters or let Michael Leighton run with the starting job for a few weeks? Who will see more starts, Legace or Leighton? - Scythe

I am not a big fan of Manny Legace, so I see Michael Leighton getting more starts until Ward returns. The reasons why I don't like the Legace signing:

1. Legace's knees. A torn meniscus from a few seasons ago is something very few goalies can ever fully recover from.

2. Legace's AHL numbers. In six games with the Chicago Wolves he went 2-2-1 with a .898 save percentage and 3.21 GAA and one shutout. Yikes.

3. The message it sends to a quality short-term prospect in Justin Peters, who in 10 games with the River Rats went 5-4-1 with a 2.19 GAA and a very solid .925 save percentage.

4. The lack of opportunity for development of goalie prospects. This is something I scream bloody murder about every time it happens. It's almost always a mistake when NHL teams do not give their quality prospects an opportunity to show off their skills (see Tyler Weiman in Colorado).

5. A perfect opportunity to scout Peters and see what his skill level is like goes down the tubes.

Reasons why I might possibly like it:

1. Legace is a veteran presence and "calming influence" on a weak team.

2. He can't play much worse than he has with the Wolves so far. He has nowhere to go but up...if he can play with confidence.

3. A "last hurrah" in his career could spark the Canes to play with more desperation and energy.

4. It motivates Leighton to practice hard and challenge a weaker veteran for starts.

Now I am aware that Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is notorious for bringing prospects along very slowly. But by the same token, all it would take is one meeting between Peters and Rutherford saying, "We don't expect you to win games, we just expect you to play hard and show us what you got. This is an opportunity to play some NHL games."

That's what I call positive reinforcement. Instead, by not doing this, it's a negative reinforcement regardless of whether or not anything was said to Peters or not. I've also heard that Ward's injury is not as serious as originally stated and that he could be back in more like 2-3 weeks, not 4-5.

What happens when Ward is back in the lineup? Does Legace drop down to Albany? That would really piss me off if I were Peters or Mike Murphy, as there's all of a sudden a clutter of goalies in the AHL. Regardless, I just wouldn't touch Legace with a ten-foot pole. I'd rather acquire Leighton.

I also question the validity of the signing because there are rumors that Ward's injury is not nearly as serious as it originally seemed, and that he could be back in the lineup in a few weeks, as opposed to 4-5 weeks. That seems like a pretty drastic move to bring in a veteran like Legace when Ward is only out for a short amount of time. He mucks up the depth charts, but I guess he was doing the same thing in Atlanta's system as well (with the Chicago Wolves).

What a shame about Cam Ward. Man, hope that cat is okay and is back in business soon. Now I'm back to filling his spot, so here is who's out there in our league: Vokoun, Rinne, Ellis, Theodore, Price, Roloson, Niittymaki (would love to nab him but still not sure if he's #1 there), Gustavsson. Curious to hear your thoughts per usual and thanks again for your feedback. - Ted

I would go after Niittymaki or Gustavsson without question! They are both starters on teams heading in the right direction. I think Toronto will improve a little faster over the next few weeks because they're already so terrible, so they have an easier time improving. Plus Phil Kessel provides a huge boost for the team offensively, along with acting as a nice lift in energy and confidence.

I like Niittymaki a lot right now because he's started four straight games, has the best save percentage in the league (.940) and he's 3rd in GAA. Those numbers will only create an air of confidence around his teammates and the coaching staff. In my opinion, he has already taken over the starting role in Tampa Bay. Let's also not forget that he was the 2006 Olympics Tournament MVP and is battling against Niklas Backstrom and Miikka Kiprusoff right now to gain momentum for this year's Olympic run for Team Finland. This could very well be another breakout year for him, since the Olympics are on his radar now that Kari Lehtonen is out with back problems.

Also, do not underestimate either Pekka Rinne or Dan Ellis. They both have outstanding save percentages on a terrible defensive team in Nashville. Their season has played out eerily similar to last year, where the team in front of them struggles horribly to score and to maintain any kind of consistency. But once they do, the goalies will reap the rewards and ultimately one of them will take over as the #1 goalie, or Barry Trotz will ride whichever goalie is "hot" at the time, giving them both adequate chances to play a lot of games.

Ultimately I see them both splitting time throughout the season and each having the same opportunity to play 50-55 games. It just depends on timing and who can take advantage when it matters most.

Carey Price would be a great goalie to own, but there is so much controversy taking place, it's not a good idea to grab him right now. I do think he's  going to start winning some games here relatively soon, but that all depends on the play of Jaroslav Halak. And to be honest, I think Halak has been energized by the drama created by his agent, Allan Walsh.

Overall, the safest bet here is Niittymaki or Gustavsson, with my personal choice being Niittymaki.

What's up with J.S. Giguere and what do you think will happen now that he's stated he would rather retire than be a backup? If he does get traded, what do you think about Timo Pielmeier's fantasy value for next season? -Smack

I'm sure you're referring to this story: http://www.dailynews.com/ducks/ci_13751868

Personally, I have to wonder where goalies get the audacity to say such silly things to the press. I could care less if he's being reflective or what type of tone he has; it's unnecessary and not very smart. He just CAN'T say these things. It just proves how frustrated he is. Opponents feed off of it. Hiller slightly feeds off of it.

Giguere, shut your mouth. Open your eyes. Stop the puck. Work harder. That's how you play more, that's how you win games and that's how you get a juicy contract for next season. Otherwise, you're done. In a season where he could have buckled down, focused very hard on refining his style (read Hiller vs. Jiggy for more on that), and actually been rewarded with starts for strong play, he's whining and complaining.

It's just another step in the wrong direction motivated by a lack of mental toughness. My question is, which team could he sign with where he would be the hands-down starter? Florida? Who knows. Realistically, when a goalie publicly states he wants to play, but can't back it up with work ethic or strong numbers, he's asking for trouble.

Giguere is a veteran and a professional and has been in the league for a long time. He knows what it takes to go from a backup to a starter and he knows how to handle that situation. He obviously does NOT know how to handle going from being a starter to being out-shined by a young star in Hiller.

I have sat around trying to reason with Giguere, but it all comes down to attitude. If he has nothing positive to say, he shouldn't say anything at all...it's as simple as that. The only way to prove to the organization that he deserves to get the bulk of the starts from here on out is to work his ass off and stop every single puck that comes his way. The only way THAT is going to happen is if he's focused to the extreme. Saying stuff to the media and press, whether he meant it as sarcasm or not, is proof he's not as focused as he could/should be. But that's just my take.

To play devil's advocate for a second though, some goalies get motivated when they speak up and speak out, and that's absolutely something that could happen with Giguere. A lot will be revealed in his next game, whenever that happens to be. I would also never say these things while coming back from an injury, because it comes off as frustration...and I'm sure frustration is a big part of his reasons for saying what he's said.

In a league like the NHL, it's all about "What have you done for me lately..." and so his Stanley Cup ring and his Playoff MVP award means less now than it did last season. Giguere has been thrown into an extremely tough situation without asking for it. He lost his father, he lost a step in his game and he was out-played by a Swiss phenom that came out of nowhere like Gustavsson has. Nobody said being a pro goalie was easy.

But like I said in School of Block on Monday, the true valor of a goalie is not if his skin is pierced, but how he plays when the blood flows from his body. I'm not giving up on Giguere completely, but the odds are stacked against him when you toss all of this on top of his "out-dated" style that I've spoken about extensively. It will be fun to watch - let's see what he's got!!!

Finally, Timo Pielmeier has impressed me a lot, especially during Ducks training camp. He's moving up fast in the Top-50 Keeper Prospects Rankings. He is a cool hybrid cross between Nabokov and Toskala but with better size than Toskala and quicker feet. I like him a lot and expect him to be a quality NHL goalie in the next few seasons.