Today, I'm going to use a few of my favorite stats to examine the OHL careers of Mackenzie Blackwood and Evan Cormier. These will give us a glimpse into how they have fared year to year and how they compare to their peers. Let's jump right in.
In addition to referencing traditional goaltending stats, I'm also going to focus on a few of my favorites to use in evaluating goaltending performance. I know I've mentioned these in the past but here's a quick refresher on what these stats are and where they came from:
Quality Starts - A metric developed by Robert Vollman; a quality start is used to determine a start in which the goalie gave the team a good chance to win the game.
In order to record a Quality Start, the starting goalie must stop at least a league average number of shots or play at least as well as a replacement-level goalie (88.5%) while allowing two goals or fewer.
Really Bad Starts and Bail Outs - Metrics also developed by Robert Vollman that determine how much a goaltender hurt his team and how often his team was able to bail him out. Explanation of Really Bad Starts and Bail Outs:
This year's new statistic is the Really Bad Start, where a goalie fails to stop even 85% of the shots, leaving his team barely a 10% chance of winning. The opposite of a Wasted Quality Start is a Bail-Out, which is defined by being awarded a win despite failing to achieve a Quality Start.
Goals Allowed Percentage Minus (GA%-) - A metric developed by Hockey-Reference to compare a goaltender's performance among their peers. 100 is average, below 100 is above average, and above 100 is below average.
The formula is 100*((1-player save %)/(1-league average save %)).
Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) - Another metric developed by Hockey-Reference to compare a goaltender's performance among their peers. The higher the number the better the goaltender was compared to the league average and vice versa.
GSAA = Saves-(League Average SV%*Shots Against)
Now let's take a closer look at Mackenzie Blackwood and Evan Cormier.
By now we are well aware of what Mackenzie Blackwood brings to the table as the reigning OHL Goaltender of the Year. The Devils selected the consensus top ranked goaltender of the 2015 draft in the 2nd round and so far the results have been strong. As we can see from the table above, Blackwood has improved his SV%, GA%-, and GSAA numbers every season in the OHL, notably making a nice improvement in his post draft year. I'm encouraged to see that he's posted consistently solid Quality Start numbers while keeping his Really Bad Starts to a minimum and decreasing his Bail Outs. He even made the Canada WJC team last season though had a tumultuous 3 games after returning from a lengthy OHL suspension. Still, he's consistently climbed the leaderboard among OHL goaltenders the past 3 seasons and had the highest GSAA/60 among goaltenders with at least 30 games played. At just 19 years old, with a December birthday, the plan is for him to turn pro according to Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald. At this point in time the AHL will be a good test for him and I'd expect him to get a decent amount of playing time but not too much to overwhelm and burn him out. The Devils have plenty of time to let help him develop and I look forward to seeing if he can carry over his OHL success to the pros.
Evan Cormier came into the 2016 draft on the scout's radar but wasn't as heralded as Blackwood. Still he did enough to earn a selection by the Devils in the 4th round. As you can see from the numbers above, so far the performance hasn't been there from the projectable young netminder. To his credit he hasn't played on the strongest of teams and like Blackwood has had plenty of work to do. Unlike Blackwood who has been consistent for the most part, Cormier seems to run hot and cold. As the table above points out, his Quality Start% improved in his second full year of OHL play to finish at a respectable level. Unfortunately, he also fell victim to way too many Really Bad Starts in both of his full OHL seasons. Perhaps a heavy workload and playing multiple times a weekend has skewed those numbers. Perhaps he hasn't been able to round out his game as quickly as others. While it would be harsh to just write him off, I am not as excited about his prospects of becoming an asset for the Devils as I am for Blackwood. With that said, I hope to see him continue to put up decent Quality Start numbers again while decreasing the number of bad games for Saginaw next season.
How do you feel about these prospects? Do you have high expectations for Blackwood? What do you expect out of Cormier? Please leave your comments below and thank you for reading!