From Beauchemin to Stalberg, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2009-10 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Maple Leafs for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2010-11. That means only guys that are still property of the Maple Leafs. We're doing this in concert with Maple Leafs Hot Stove. Next up, Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
#35 / Goalie / Toronto Maple Leafs
|2009 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere||15||915||6||9||38||2.49||451||413||.916||2|
The Summary: Jean-Sebastien Giguere's arrival in Toronto represented a lot of things. First and foremost, it represented the moment when, after 100+ days of atrocious goaltending, Brian Burke was finally able to change the Leafs' fortunes. It represented the first time since the lockout that the Leafs' defencemen and forwards could be confident that on any given night they were playing in front of an NHL calibre goalie. And it also showed the extent to which Brian Burke was working to put the support network in place to maximize Jonas Gustavsson's potential. So how do you evaluate a goalie? Well, you ask an expert to offer his thoughts. After the jump, Justin Goldman of The Goalie Guild recaps Giguere's time with the Leafs.
Read entire post before voting. More after the jump.
When it comes to scouting goalies at the highest level, it is relatively easy to see flaws in technique. The butterfly style, especially today's more refined, progressive and hybrid style, is based on very systematic and consistent in-crease movements. Because of this, even the slightest delineation in those structured movements is noticeable.
So from a technical standpoint, there's no sugar coating the obvious. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is in the twilight years of his NHL career. Like the glow of the setting sun, his playing time has quickly diminished, but his role is still valuable in effectively lighting the path of another. Such was the basis of his trade from Anaheim to Toronto late in the season.
When Giguere started working with Francois Allaire again, having Jonas Gustavsson out there watching, absorbing and participating in the same drills was valuable in more than one way. Not only was Gustavsson gaining tons of wisdom in a single practice session but so too was Giguere learning from watching Gustavsson, who has a more progressive and hybrid butterfly style. And why is this so important for Giguere?
His well-recognized blocking style, which was dominant from 2000 until a year or two after the NHL lockout, is quickly becoming dormant. Simply explained, today's butterfly goalie must rely more on reactionary saves, active hands, quicker feet and smoother lateral movement than what was seen as little as just three seasons ago. Pro goalies have better situational awareness and now make both reaction and blocking saves based on the specific game situation.
Because of the increase in the pace and speed of NHL games, as well as the velocity of shots, goalies must have even quicker reactions than ever before. Not only is this needed to make an efficient original save, but in order to effectively square up to rebound shots as well. All of this leads to an increase in the amount of energy a goalie expels in a single game. And for Giguere, this is where the issues with his game come into play. It's no secret that he has suffered from dehydration issues for years. The older he gets and the less he plays, the more severe those issues can become. And the proof of this is blindingly clear in this season's numbers.
In the first period, which is when a goalie's tank is full, Giguere was at his best, stopping 319 of 344 shots (.927 save percentage). In the second period, he stopped 305 of 337 shots (.905 save percentage). But when the third period would roll around, Giguere had practically withered away, stopping just 291 of 327 shots (.889 save percentage). So as his game-by-game results show, it's clear he suffered from some serious energy drain in most of his games.
Still, with all of that being said, Giguere was exponentially better in Toronto. From the time he was traded until the end of the season, he completely reversed the issues from above. He allowed 13 goals in the first period (142-155), 17 goals in the second (126-143) and only eight in the third period (133-141). His record finished under .500, but the combination of consistent tandem play with Gustavsson and Allaire watching over him, Giguere thrived.
Overall, there's a valuable aspect to Giguere's presence on the Maple Leafs that goes well beyond winning games. He's not only a perfect teacher and mentor for Gustavsson, he's also a charismatic leader in the locker room and a proven winner. In fact, if his minutes drop due to Gustavsson's strong play, Giguere's role might be similar to those enigmatic but all-important player/coaches often seen in the Central Hockey League here in the States.
To me, that role suits him perfectly. And if called upon to handle a heavier workload, he will just have to work hard at refining his style to be more effective and durable late in games. Regardless, at the age of 33, it may not look pretty, but Giguere should have no problem stretching out his NHL career for at least a few more seasons.
Giguere arrived in Toronto and quickly rattled off two straight shutouts, stopping 30 against New Jersey on Feb. 2 and then another 30 shots on Feb. 6 against Ottawa. He also improved from a 3.14 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in Anaheim to a 2.49 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in Toronto.
Giguere was the first goaltender in franchise history to open a Maple Leafs career with back-to-back shutouts. Also, since the 1999-2000 season, Giguere has never finished with anything lower than a .900 save percentage. And yes, that also includes six games he played during the NHL lockout with the Hamburg Freezers.
His veteran presence and ability to turn around what would have been an abysmal season. Because of their strong work ethic, the Leafs might employ the same tandem that was used in February, March and April.
His one-sided blocking style. It's not that relying on the blocking style is really a bad thing, it's just that it doesn't allow for a balanced or efficient game. Players are smart creatures and they know what kind of goalie they are shooting against. To be a predominately blocking goalie is to give the shooter a mental and technical edge.
His durability and dehydration issues. Because he has a history of struggling to stay hydrated, you can say that it's tough to remove rust when you are bone dry. It was extremely tough for Giguere to get into any kind of long-term rhythm because he often started games strong, but by the third period was worn down and much slower.
Say what you will but this guy can make an entrance
There's only one year remaining on Giguere's bloated contract, which will equal a six million dollar cap hit next season. That means the chances of trading him are slimmer than a sheet of saran wrap. With that being said, Toronto might as well squeeze everything they possibly can out of him. And that is where the discussion lies. Contract issues and drama aside, how many games should he play and how often should he play them? As it is with all teams that have a 1A-1B tandem, effective minute management will be the key to allowing both to be successful.
Rate Giguere below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
About the guest blogger
Justin Goldman is the founder of The Goalie Guild, an independent goalie scouting service based in Denver, Colorado. Justin covers goalies for www.DobberHockey.com and McKeen's and is also the host of Avalanche Weekly on Mile High Sports Radio AM 1510, the team's flagship radio station. You can also follow him on Twitter @TheGoalieGuild.