Rebuilding: The elusive search for a long-term goalie

The hardest position to fulfill long-term in the SICHL is in the net. Unfortunately, the Riders currently are short in that position.
by Sylvain Tremblay | December 23, 2023, 12:24 AM ET

The hardest position to fulfill long-term in the SICHL is in the net. The market for young goalies is unaffordable for most with the going price being in crazy land, as seen with the Shestyorkin trade this past year. Unfortunately, the Riders currently are short in that position with a couple of prospects but nothing that will materialize in the short term. Still, if the opportunity arises to get a goaltender that will last 5+ years as a starter at an affordable cost, the team will make a move.

In the meantime, without a goalie to lead to the cup, the team is stuck with the problem of overpaying for a one or two years plug, probably average amongst starters. However, the lack of an adequate number of good goalies in the league and the way teams can stranglehold that position compared to others (like via better protection at the waiver draft) often makes that position unaffordable. Which means it could take some time before the Riders get another opportunity to win the Cup.

Bidding their time, the Riders have decided to move to a younger core that could mature when the team finally gets their hands on a future franchise goalie. This meant swapping players that the team could lose in 2-3 years for others that will still be there in 5+ years. Such a move has made the team less competitive for now at the pro level but has increased the assets that the team can count on should a goalie get acquired. As soon as that happens, the team will add what is required at other positions to get back to the top.

The Riders currently have a decent crop of youth coming up at all other positions than between the pipes.

Up front, the team has good young candidates for all positions. At center, the team is already strong with three centers 25 and under in Trevor Zegras, Anthony Cirelli and Anton Lundell. On the wings, the team doesn’t have as young players currently on the team. Verhaeghe can be retained for four more years after this one and Kuzmenko’s contract will run out after its 4th year. Pacioretty, signed as a veteran, only has three years left including this one. Regarding wingers, the Riders are hoping some of their young guns will take bigger roles in the future, which includes Dylan Guenther, Jonatan Berggren, Nick Robertson, Jakob Pelletier, Colby Barlow, Ivan Miroshnichenko, Juraj Perkarchik and Ryan Winterton. And while the center is already packed, some could play on the wings considering the youth coming up at that position with Mavrik Bourque, Ivan Morozov, Filip Bystedt, Easton Cowan, Luca Del Bel Belluz, David Goyette, Marco Kasper and Fraser Minten. That list doesn’t even consider others that may take spots on the bottom line like Nils Aman, Paul Cotter, Martin Chromiak, Lukas Rousek, Akil Thomas, Jakub Brabenec, Hunter Haight, Francisco Pinelli, Samuel Savoie, Kasper Simontaival and Ilya Safonov.

The defense picture is different as it’s weak now. With only Dmitri Orlov providing good defense, there is plenty of work to do. Haydn Fleury and Travis Dermott will likely settle as bottom pairing defensemen and the team could keep them for another five years after it, should they wish to. Tobias Bjornfot has a bit more potential being only 21, but it looks like he will still be a middle pairing guy at best. Chris Wideman is a veteran at the end of his career with the Riders. Nick DeSimone, selected at the waivers draft, might play for three other years after this one. Otherwise, the Riders have a few good candidates to step up and occupy make the defense a strong one: Simon Edvinsson, Louis Crevier, Michael Kesselring, Luca Cagnoni, Semyon Chystyakov, Rodwin Dionicio, Adam Engstrom, Ryan Johnson, and Carson Lambos. Plus others that may be wildcards in the future: Graham Sward and Jack Peart.

In the net, the hopes currently fall on the shoulders of Arturs Silovs, and Domenic Divinventiis, unless Mikhail Berdin makes a return from the KHL.

The Predators will add more talent at the next draft with three first rounders. That could help fix the holes or maybe even grab a future starting goalie.

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