For all the blustery, long-term risks the Columbus Blue Jackets made during this off-season, their short-term goaltending gambles might be their undoing.
If GM Scott Howson really did enough to improve the team in front of embattled would-be franchise goalie Steve Mason, then maybe these concerns will evaporate. Still, it’s worrisome that Mason has been (at best) an average NHL goalie since his Calder Trophy season in 2008-09 – especially after solid backup Mathieu Garon departed to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Things could get ugly if the Blue Jackets are forced to lean on a backup. That was already true heading into training camp, but now the situation looks even more dire considering Mark Dekanich’s high-ankle sprain. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that Dekanich will be sidelined for about a month with the injury, which opens the door for former St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks backup Curtis Sanford to get another crack at NHL time.
Sanford hasn’t played in the NHL since he went 7-8-0 with a .906 save percentage and 2.59 for the Canucks in 08-09. His overall record is 37-37-11 with a .901 career save percentage and 2.76 GAA.
In a way, Sanford is actually a safer backup than the reasonably well-liked prospect Dekanich, who has one game and about 50 minutes of NHL experience on his resume. Either way, my guess is that the Blue Jackets better be a high-scoring team in 2011-12 if they want to make the playoffs.