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Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25: #6 Connor Hellebuyck

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"So be on notice. We got new players in town. We don't know who they are, where they come from, but they possess an extremely high skill-set. Me personally? I'm thinking Albuquerque just might have a new kingpin." - DEA Agent Hank Schrader, Breaking Bad, Season 1, Episode 4

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Rank

DOB

Drafted

Pos

Allan

Andy

Philip

Daniel

Ryan

Cara

Ian

Brian

Tim

6

1993/05/19

#130, 2012

G

6

7

7

7

6

9

7

5

9

Previous Rank: 12th

The Winnipeg Jets may have a new kingpin, as Connor Hellebuyck won't be playing in the AHL much longer! The Manitoba Moose will certainly benefit from having him as their #1 starter for the upcoming season, but if injury or goalie struggles hamper the main club at any point in 2015-16, plan for Hellebuyck to enter with guns blazing.

After being drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, an unsuspecting professional hockey community was taken aback as Hellebuyck exploded onto the scene last year, being a highlight on an otherwise weak St. John's IceCaps club. Then at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, he backstopped the U.S. team to a bronze medal by beating the Czechs! Hellebuyck has certainly caught the attention of the NHL community, and will be a positive discussion point going forward.

Stats:

AIH Authors' Notes:

Andrew:

If Pavs or Hutch goes down, he's the man to fill the net. And if he gets the chance, he'll hopefully flourish like he did at the Worlds. I'd like nothing more than to see a Hutch and Hellebuyck tandem going forward and into the future.

Brian:

I sure hope Hellebuyck is at least the backup by the end of the season. He's won at every level so far, and I don't see that changing. If the Jets are Cup contenders in the next few years, Connor Hellebuyck will surely be the man between the pipes.

Ian:

I have dreams, beautiful, haunting dreams about Hellebuyck being the franchise goalie. He is the anti-Pavelec; he doesn't try to make flashy saves, and has even described his own play as "boring". Was an absolute work horse last year playing 58 games with a .921 SV%

Daniel:

If goalie development is voodoo, Connor Hellebuyck is one of the most promising young wizards around. A 5th round draft choice in 2012, Hellebuyck has gone from a big, athletic young goaltender to one of the best goaltending prospects in hockey.

Hellebuyck accomplished everything there is to accomplish in two seasons at UMass-Lowell: single-season record for best save percentage (.952), single-season record for best GAA (1.37) and a Mike Richter Award as the top goaltender in college hockey.

Now a pro, Hellebuyck had a great rookie season in the AHL. He has the athleticism and physical attributes to be a successful starting goalie in the NHL, and will likely push for NHL games this season.

Ryan:

It's a good thing that goalies are voodoo, as Helly was an absolute gem found in the 5th round in the wasteland that is Odessa, Texas. Turning out a premier prospect that late in the draft is certainly a feather in Chevy's cap, but until we see how he does against NHL shooters he's still a bit of an unknown. But the fact that he's Big & Boring (ie. the Anti-Pavelec) doesn't give me any reason to doubt him. Hopefully he gets here sooner than later.

Scouting Reports:

Patrick Allen at Hockey's Future had this to say:

Had it not been for Hellebuyck’s superb play this year, an already disappointing season for the IceCaps could have been even worse. He more than proved he was up to the task after making the jump from college, and his strong play will undoubtedly place him in contention for the backup position with the Jets next fall. Hellebuyck also appears to be the starter for a youthful Team USA squad in the current IIHF World Hockey Championships, something that bodes very well for his fortunes with the national squad.

Patrick Williams at NHL.com went over the Jets prospects, listing Hellebuyck as #1:

Hellebuyck might need one more season in the AHL to fine-tune his game, but it would not be surprising if he pushes his way into the Jets' goaltending picture this season.

Dennis Schellenberg at The Hockey Writers notes that Hellebuyck's future in Winnipeg looks bright:

The question of whether Hellebuyck will make some NHL games or not is probably depending on a strong pre-season camp. If he can confirm his good performance from the Worlds in the pre-season for the Jets and stay healthy, he has good chances to get a few NHL starts next season.  At least he can count on the confidence of the Jets fan base and the hockey fans in Winnipeg are already looking forward to the new season with lots of potential on the goaltender position, something which doesn’t happen each year in the capital of Manitoba.

Greg Balloch, InGoal Magazine:

Hellebuyck is huge in the net, but is not saddled with many of the issues that are commonly associated with large goaltenders. He is a strong skater, and takes advantage of that by being smart about his butterfly usage. He does not sit back and rely on his size do the work. His lateral pushes are explosive, but he stays within himself due to an understanding of the type of positioning that works best for a goalie of his size. It’s very rare to see Hellebuyck scramble out of position, which is a sign of a goaltender that knows his limits and is in complete control. The buzz around the AHL at the beginning of last season was "Who is this guy?" but that quickly turned into "How the heck do you beat this guy?" He’s only a household name in the AHL right now, but the NHL shouldn’t be too far behind.

Summary:

Will the Jets' net be Hellebuyck's territory soon?  Pavelec and Hutchison should be looking over their shoulders, as Hellebuyck is knocking on their door!

What do you think? Thanks for reading, and we look forward to reading your comments and opinions. Cheers!