Monday, August 25, 2008

On this day in Caps history...August 25th

In 2005...the Caps signed David Steckel as a free agent.

After a four-year career at The Ohio State University (those folks insist on putting "The" in front) -- 50-55-105, +29, in 146 games -- during which he was selected 30th overall in the 2001 entry draft by Los Angeles, he played for a year splitting time with Reading in the ECHL and the Kings' AHL farm club in Manchester. After that 2004-2005 season, he was signed (three years ago on this date) by the Caps.

Steckel has shown himself to be an adept faceoff man a penalty killing/defensive specialist. However, he did have a 30-goal, 61-point campaign (in 71 games) at Hershey in 2006-2007 as the Bears went to the Calder Cup final. Improving on his five-goal output last year certainly doesn't seem out of the question.

Anyway, that's what happened on this day...

The Goaltender's Journey

There will be a lot of eyes focused on the nets this year -- not the ones into which Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, and Alexander Semin are shooting pucks, but the one defended by Jose Theodore. His is not an enviable position, taking over for as close to a sports icon as hockey has ever produced in the Washington community -- Olaf Kolzig. No pressure, eh?

Well, this got us to thinking about goaltenders for Stanley Cup winners in the post-Gretzky, four-in-five-years era. We were wondering about their respective journeys in getting to hoist the chalice. Did they dance with who brung 'em (drafted them, that is)? If not, were they seasoned with a long resume before arriving at their opportunity? Were they successful with that club in the first year they arrived? Well, here's the tale-of-the-tape...

Eight of 19 Stanley Cup winners in this era were backstopped by goaltenders drafted by that team; nine if you count Chris Osgood's second tour with Detroit. In that respect, the goalie having been drafted by the club winning a Cups doesn't appear to be much of a factor.

Of the 10 instances in which the Stanley Cup winner had an "import," only two -- Dominik Hasek and Patrick Roy -- won in their first year with their respective clubs. It is worth noting that in nine of those 10 cases in which a goalie not drafted by the winner was in the nets, the goaltender played at least 266 games with other teams before finding ultimate success.

For those of you wondering where Theodore falls out on this...

It doesn't speak to necessarily winning a Cup this year (chances are, the Caps will not be top-of-the-heap favorites), but there is history in goaltenders taking a long and winding road before finally having their names on the Cup. It bears watching.