Parker Van Buskirk is the current backup of the Stockton Thunder, although I've been informed that he may start in place of Bryan Pitton tonight against the Ontario Reign in Stockton's 4th playoff game. It's a surprise and not a surprise, all at once. Pitton's had a rough year and a disastrous first round since Andrew Perugini went down to injury, so on that level it's unsurprising that the backup gets a start. Van Buskirk though was an emergency signing, and a guy with a relatively undistinguished junior career to boot. Let's take a look at his OHL numbers, season over season:
- 2005-06: 6-16-12, 4.48 GAA, .879 SV%
- 2006-07: 25-13-6, 3.29 GAA, .901 SV%
- 2007-08: 13-7-0, 3.15 GAA, .892 SV%
- 2008-09: 20-25-5, 3.33 GAA, .903 SV%
Van Buskirk's numbers are somewhat comparable to Bryan Pitton's; Pitton was drafted in 2006 after going 16-4 with Brampton (putting up a 3.43 GAA and .879 SV% in the process). The following season, Pitton's numbers plummeted; his save percentage dipped down to 0.879, but he recovered in 2007-08 with a 2.54 GAA and .911 SV%; numbers that were moderately better than backup Patrick Killeen. Killeen's struggled this season, so it's probably not a stretch to suggest that the two goaltenders both saw their numbers inflated by playing for a strong team.
In any case, over the bulk of his career Pitton has put up better numbers; unlike Van Buskirk he was drafted, and unlike Van Buskirk he has an NHL entry level contract. If Pitton is indeed replaced by Van Buskirk as Stockton's starter in the playoffs, it will mark a rather incredible fall from grace since he was signed last summer. It may also help Van Buskirk land a pro contract somewhere next season.