In recent years we have seen that goaltenders can carry an NHL team. In quite a few cases it has been young goalies to do this. Last season Antti Niemi led the Chicago Blackhawks all the way to a Stanley Cup Championship. Before last season, Niemi only had 3 games of NHL experience with the Blackhawks.
In the 2008-2009 NHL season, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason led the Jackets to their first playoff berth in franchise history. Mason played 61 games going 33-20-7 and posting a .916 save % and a 2.90 GAA. He was also awarded the Calder Trophy as the NHL's most outstanding rookie that year. How many NHL games did Mason play in before that season? Absolutely none.
So, who is Cedrick Desjardins?
Cedrick Desjardins is a 25 year old goaltending prospect for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is the starting goalie for the Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. In case you don't remember, Desjardins was acquired in an off-season deal with the Montreal Canadiens for former Lightning goalie Karri Ramo.
Why should he play for the Lightning?
Well, obviously the Lightning have some goaltending issues. What else is new, right? I think this was especially evident during Thursday's 8-1 loss in Boston. Now, who knows? Ellis or Smith could both go on a run in the next couple games, put up some stellar numbers, and everything could be just fine and dandy with the issues of keeping the puck out of the net. But, at the same time, the goaltending issues could keep going on and the Lightning might have to look elsewhere for some help. Desjardins could definitely help. Why?
Let's think about this. Before Desjardins came to the Bolts, he was property of the Montreal Canadiens. Although he did not play an NHL game for the Habs, he was the number one goalie of their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. During his time with the Bulldogs, Desjardins played 92 games, had a record of 49-26-6, posted a .917 save % and a 2.34 GAA. This season in Norfolk, he has played 14 games, has a 9-4-1 record with a with a .898 save % and a 2.54 GAA. It is a drop from previous seasons but he is with a new team and organization so I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. So overall, he has pretty good numbers. But wait, there's more. Last year in Hamilton, Desjardins had his best season to date going 29-9-4 in 47 games, posted a .919 save % and a 2.00 GAA. And who was the head coach in Hamilton last year? None other than current Lightning head coach Guy Boucher. Actually, Desjardins and most of the Lightning coaching staff know eachother well. Dan Lacroix and Martin Raymond, now Lightning assistant coaches, were also assistant coaches in Hamilton last year. Finally, consider that Desjardins is coming from the same goaltending system that produced Carey Price AND Jaroslav Halak. So he is obviously in good company.
I think that he could really help the Lightning. He has a lot of good things going for him and he has some good potential. And really, why not take the risk? The worst that's gonna happen is he plays like Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have been playing lately, and then we can just send him back down to Norfolk.
So now that you have some info on Cedrick Desjardins and the Lightning's goalie situation, I want to ask you, should the Lightning give him a chance to play in the NHL?