In just a few years, there might not be a single European goaltender in the Canadian Hockey League.
That’s because of a new CHL initiative that will impact Canada’s the three major junior leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL). If a team wants to select a goaltender in the 2013 CHL import draft, they’ll only be able to do so in the first round.
After that, they won’t be able to get a netminder through the import draft under any circumstances, according to the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox.
These measures reflect a fear that Canadian goaltending has been on the decline. As Cox explains:
All three finalists for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy this season are Europeans, while a Canadian hasn’t been the first goalie selected in the NHL draft in five years. Of the four Memorial Cup finalists, only Halifax, the eventual champion, started a Canadian goalie, and Russia’s Andrei Makarov of the Saskatoon Blades was the tournament’s outstanding goalie.
The top goalie in the CHL this season, meanwhile, was from the Czech Republic.
It’s worth noting that none of the three European-born Vezina finalists played in the CHL.
Meanwhile, who will play between the pipes in the 2014 Winter Olympics will be the subject of heavy debate in Canada. With Martin Brodeur getting older and Roberto Luongo losing the starting gig in Vancouver, there’s no clear-cut choice.
At the same time, 28-year-old Corey Crawford has certainly thrown himself into the mix along with 23-year-old Braden Holtby. Then there’s James Reimer, who bounced back nicely from his sophomore slump.
Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman suggested that Canadian goaltending was in a transitional period and maybe that’s part of it. At the same time, he didn’t seem entirely opposed to the policy that the CHL later enacted.
“The bottom line is goalies need to play,” Yzerman told the Toronto Star in May. “They need minutes. There are only so many nets.”