Previous Rank: 12th
Connor Hellebuyck is already a very decorated and well respected goaltender.
In his draft year in the NAHL he received both the Goaltender of the Year and the Rookie of the Year awards. He was also named to the All-Rookie First Team, the All-South Division team, and the All-NAHL Team. Still, the NAHL is a lower tier juniour hockey league and goaltenders are voodoo... so most were skeptical.
The next year was Hellebuyck's freshmen season in the NCAA. He won the starting job -rare for freshmen- and finished the season with the league's best save percentage and goals against average. He also finished more shutouts than any other net minder. Hellebuyck was highly decorated for his season and won many awards including NCAA Hockey-East Goaltender of the Year and Hockey-East Tournament MVP. Still, goaltenders are voodoo and many prospects come out of the NCAA with a single good season but amount to nothing... so most were intrigued, but still skeptical.
Hellebuyck shed some of the doubt with a second solid season in the NCAA. Once again Hellebuyck posted the league's top save percentage and goals against average. Connor was second in the NCAA for shutouts, bringing his collegiate career total to 12 shutouts... the same number of loses he had suffered. Hellebuyck was awarded the inaugural Mike Richter award, which goes to the top college goaltender in America. He signed an ELC to the Winnipeg Jets, effectively ending his collegiate career. Connor left the with the highest 2+ season career save percentage in NCAA history.
Goalies are voodoo; but if you are going to bank on a goaltender, banking on a goaltender with a resume like this is pretty nice.
Hellebuyck will be starting his pro-hockey career this season with the St. John's IceCaps.
AIH Authors' Thoughts:
Hellebuyck is a big blocking goalie. He plays a calm, patient game. And most importantly, he stops a lot of puckd. He had great success at the College level amassing one of the most impressive (statistical) goaltending careers of all time. The step up to pro is a big one though. It will be interesting to see how he handles it.
Connor Hellebuyck is the anti-Pavelec. He’s huge, he’s boring in his movements (in a good way) and he’s nearly always in position. Being the anti-Pavelec is a major plus. He’s still got some stuff to prove as he turns pro, but there’s plenty to like here. Mostly because he’s the anti-Pavelec. Do you sense a theme here?
Big and boring is how Hellebuyck likes to describe his game. All that matters to me is that he stops as many goals as possible, something the Jets many prospects seem good at but have yet to have at the NHL level. Goalies are voodoo, but there is a lot of potential in Connor Hellebuyck. Have I recently said that goaltenders are voodoo?
2013 Top 25 Under 25 - Connor Hellebuyck