Goaltender's development curve, via Wikimedia Commons by Oliver Álvarez, by Creative Commons Attribution license.
If nobody else is going to say it, I will.
I hate goalies.
I've always hated goalies. I played goal in road hockey, but even that was just semi-organized self-loathing. My very first article on The Copper & Blue was actually about goalies and why they piss me off. Goalies are the nemeses of all humanity. Goalies make children cry and grown men cry louder. Goalies are the enemy.
I'm not just saying this because the Edmonton Oilers employ Nikolai Khabibulin, either. Heck, Khabibulin got a shutout last night in Toronto, which isn't exactly the hardest thing in the world but all the same. I just really, really resent goalies. They're unpredictable, they're wild, they're expensive, and after one's finished with you all you have left is a headache and a lottery pick. Trusting a goalie is like drinking $5 bottles of whiskey: you might feel good at first but it will absolutely come back to haunt you when you start offering cops a billion dollars not to arrest you.
That's Ben Massey's seminal work on goaltenders, the most insightful look into the position ever published. Goaltender development is a bizarre concept that defies every theorized law of spacetime ever set forth. Some goalies are drafted in the top 10 and completely fall apart. Others blow away the league and then fall off of the face of the earth. Others win the Calder and then drag their team to the bottom of the league and cost people their jobs. And of course there are goalies that decide to play like the premier generational talent, but only after they turn 28 and only after they're traded for Eric Daze.
I'm on record as comparing the process of developing goaltenders to alchemy and I stand by that. Scott demonstrated that true goaltender development talent is a rare and fleeting thing, regardless of the newly-minuted cottage industry of goaltender evaluation and coaching. Teams should fire their goaltender coaches and scouts and save some money - the results wouldn't change. Seriously.
Having said all that, I'm apparently supposed to write about Tyler Bunz, our #18 prospect in the winter installment of the Top 25 Under 25. This is Bunz' first appearance in the Top 25, though he's improved on each list since being drafted, moving from 36 in July 2010, to 28 in February 2011, to 27 in July 2011 and finally to #18. Is Bunz worthy of such a large jump?
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Ben ||Bruce ||DB||Derek||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
Previous Rank: 27
Ben moved Bunz up 7 spots, Bruce 2, Jon 6, Scott 6. Bunz was catapulted into the top 20 by new panelist dawgbone, who ranked him the highest amongst all of us at 13 and goalie-hater me, who raised him 15 spots to 26.
Why is Bunz getting so much love? dawgbone says it's because of incremental improvements:
He’s doing exactly what you want him to do… get better every year. He’s already one of the best goalies in the WHL and has done nothing but improve. He’s also done significantly better than his backups which kind of demonstrates that it’s not just the team/system he plays behind.
|GP||WHL Rk ||MIN||WHL Rk ||GA||SV||WHL Rk||SV%||WHL Rk|
|2008 - Tyler Bunz||22||N/A||1007||N/A||58||453||N/A||.886||N/A|
|2009 - Tyler Bunz||57||3214||3214||6||156||1380||8||.898||22|
|2010 - Tyler Bunz||56||3350||3350||7||138||1574||9||.919||2|
|2011 - Tyler Bunz||47||2775||2775||1||122||1397||2||.920||3|
His WHL numbers show that year-over-year improvement. He's now one of the very best goaltenders in the WHL, which explains why Oilers' fans have so much confidence in him. Why should they be concerned?