Jets Nation Prospect Profiles 2016: #3 Connor Hellebuyck

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We are in the dregs of summer, so we take a critical look at the Winnipeg Jets organizational cupboards and highlight who we feel are the Jets’ “Top 20 Prospects” when looking at a combination of potential and probability of positive impact for the franchise.

We continue our prospect profile to the Jets’ potential future in net, Connor Hellebuyck.

Connor Hellebuyck

Age: 23 Position: G
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 207 lbs
Draft Year: 2012 Round: Fifth

When the Winnipeg Jets drafted Connor Hellebuyck in the fifth round in 2012 there were some that scratched their head. Hellebuyck had gone under the radar and very few knew of the netminder. In fact, the story goes that the Jets found Hellebuyck while the scout was at a NAHL game in order to watch the opposition’s netminder, and the Jets lucked into their potential future starter.

Hellebuyck went on to become a highly decorated goaltender. In the NAHL he was awarded both Goaltender and Rookie of the year, while being nominated to the All-NAHL, All-Rookie, and All-South Division Teams. He went on to two seasons in college, where he dominated the league, earning essentially every award a goaltender could, including being the inaugural winner of the Mike Richter Award for top NCAA award.

The goaltender was twice nominated to the AHL All-Star game, while arguably being cheated out of the World Championship’s best goaltender title after winning bronze and posting the tournament’s best save percentage.

Read More: 2015 Prospect Profiles: #3 Connor Hellebuyck

The domination of every league Hellebuyck enters into didn’t stop and the netminder did not slow down his pro-rookie season. Hellebuyck posted a 0.921 save percentage for the struggling St. John’s IceCaps and then a 0.922 for the even worse Manitoba Moose. To put this in perspective, the AHL league average floats around 0.912, a full 0.004 less than the NHL.

(The official AHL website differs from Elite Prospects on save percentage)

While the large netminder’s time playing in the NHL was short, with only 26 games played, Hellebuyck did show well and posted a 0.918 save percentage.

Read More: What we discovered from Connor’s time in the NHL

Stylistically speaking, Hellebuyck could be thought of as a “blocking goaltender” with how he leans on his size and positioning, while eating up rebounds, to make the save rather than relying on athleticism and reflexes. That said, it is not due to a lack of athletic nature.

Greg Balloch of inGoal Magazine had this to say of Hellebuyck when he named the netminder the top goaltender prospect:

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.

In terms of potential, there’s no (public) model that looks at goaltender success rates. That said, we do know that the better a goaltender is in lower levels, the more likely they can successfully move on to the next.

Goaltending projections may have a bit of voodoo involved but you could do well placing your bets on a netminder that was arguably the best in the NAHL, NCAA, and AHL, while breaking Mike Richter’s record for best collegiate career save percentage, had more collegiate shutouts than loses, posted over a 0.921 save percentage over two seasons consequtively in the AHL, and was above league average during a small sample of NHL games.


Jets Nation Prospect Profiles

  • I just have a question regarding your definition of a prospect. Most sites list anyone eligible for rookie awards to be a prospect but you have both Hellebuyck and Petan listed and they both surpassed the 25 game threshold last year.

    I am also a little curious why Phillips was left off the list (assuming the last 2 spots are Laine and Connor) when he has had a couple really good years at Mich Tech and easily could be seen as having more upside then the 17-20 group.

  • FishWhiskey

    If I am Hellebuyck and have a great training camp and still get sent down to the Moose I would be calling my agent with instructions to sign me with any team but the Jets after my RFA is up next year.

    Jets management sand bagged Trouba with Stuart and they may lose him because of it. If they choose to shelter Pavelec at Hellebuyck’s expense they may lose him as well.

    With today’s astute announcement of the new on ice leadership group I am hoping it also signals that Chippy/Chevy have decided that they will no longer be treating the team as a retirement home for their pet bums.

    War Hellebuyck. The future is now!