What to make of Mark Dekanich

Jonathan Willis
July 09 2012 03:33PM

A few days ago the Winnipeg Jets signed free agent goaltender Mark Dekanich. Given that the Jets had already signed Al Montoya to fill the backup goaltending role behind Ondrej Pavelec, and Dekanich lost all but five games last season to injury, what should we make of this signing?

Despite the injuries last season, there are things to like about Dekanich – particularly since prior to injury he was one of the best goaltenders in the AHL.

Last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Dekanich as their insurance policy against starter Steve Mason once again struggling. It was a bit of a risk, given that Dekanich had just a single NHL game under his belt, but at the time there were things to like about it. Dekanich was coming off a season where he has posted a 0.931 SV% over 43 games for Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.

It was the third season in a roe what Dekanich had posted an above-average AHL save percentage – in two previous years splitting time in Milwaukee he’d managed a 0.914 and 0.23 save percentage. Prior to turning pro he had been a college goaltender, again posting strong numbers for Colgate University over three full seasons as starter there.

Dekanich is actually an astute signing for the Jets given what their goaltending depth looks like at the moment.

The organization’s number two, Al Montoya, is coming off a year where he managed a 0.893 SV% with the New York Islanders. He’d been excellent in relief duty in the NHL the year before, but terrible in the minors – in 21 games with the Islanders in 2010-11, his NHL save percentage was 0.921; in 21 games with the Islanders’ farm team his AHL save percentage was just 0.891. Once highly regarded (the sixth overall pick in 2004), he’s had a haphazard professional career and could be excellent or terrible for the Jets.

Prospect Edward Pasquale is now either the Jets’ #3 or #4 goalie. Last season he established himself as the best of a mediocre lot, outplaying David Aebischer and outlasting Peter Mannino, and put up a respectable 0.911 SV%. A year earlier as an AHL rookie, he’s managed a 0.900 SV%.

Dekanich is a nice fit for the system. If all goes well, he can partner with Pasquale in the minors – given the AHL schedule, which often features long breaks during the week and games tightly grouped together on the weekend, a second quality minor-league goalie is essential.

Dekanich’s resume also makes him a potential backup option, should Montoya prove to be insufficient for the task. The Jets aren’t relying on him, the way Columbus did last year, but if they need him he’s an option. If health problems once again become a factor, than the Jets aren't hopeless, either - they still have Montoya and Pasquale.

This week by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 TwoFace
July 11 2012, 09:03PM
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This reminds me of the Oiler management decision of the last two, to have a competent 3rd string goalie if/when your starter or backup goes down. Insurance, you only appreciate it when you need to use it.

I have been impressed by the vast majority of the Jets roster moves in the last year. They seem to be correctly identifying and filling in areas of weakness. It will be important for the budget conscious Jets to continue to spend money effectively and continue to use any means at their disposal to ice a competitive team.

e.g. Grant Clitsome Antti Miettinen

Both good risks to take with very little downside if things don't work out.

Keep it up.

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#2 RexLibris
July 13 2012, 10:53PM
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Has anyone in Winnipeg started a "Hello, my name is Al Montoya. You killed my shutout. Prepare to die" meme yet?

When I start thinking about "Steve Mason" and "insurance policy" I have visions of Scott Howson cutting Mason's breaks during practice.

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