Normal Goaltender Development: Glossary and Notes

Notes on methodology for my series on Goaltender Development.


The following explain the rules I set myself as I sorted 104 individual careers into categories for analysis. It tells what I mean by certain terms, how I decided what went into what category, and how I dealt with certain exceptions.


  • Three goaltenders in this study re-entered the draft and were drafted again and went on to play at least one NHL game. For analytical purposes, the earliest draft year was used, as we are looking for what happens to guys after they're drafted.


  • "Juniors" includes any non-NCAA age-restricted league, whether in North America or Europe. Thus, it includes the USHL, which is a high-school league in the United States. For the most part, NCAA rules consider major Canadian juniors a professional league, and any player who plays in juniors is ineligible to play NCAA hockey. These are two discrete populations, then. But players who play in the USHL are eligible for NCAA hockey and there are 5 players in this study who are counted in both the "juniors" population and the NCAA population. One of those, Dan La Costa, has returned to college hockey in the CIS, after playing professionally.


  • Secondary pro minor leagues are leagues such as the ECHL, the German, Austrian, Swiss, and Finnish leagues, and so on. These are not age-restricted and feed, for the most part, into the primary minor leagues,


  • The primary professional minor leagues are the American Hockey League, the Swedish Hockey League (formerly Swedish Elite League), and the Kontinental Hockey Leaghe (Russia). These are generally considered the best leagues in the world outside of the NHL and players can sometimes go directly from the SHL or the KHL to the NHL.


  • The American league, however remains the most important minor league over this period. It is the only league from which players go back and forth to the NHL during a season. As such, a period of call-up time has been considered a phase of normal development, and a specific category for years going between the two leagues was created.


  • A "season" is any playing year in which a player played at least one game in a particular league. For instance, in the 2012-2013 season, Cedrick Desjardins played 36 AHL games and 3 NHL games. That got counted as an AHL year, an NHL year, and a call-up year. A call-up to the NHL (or to any higher league) in which the player played in no games was not counted as a year in the higher league or as a call-up year.

  • There are two instances when play in the AHL or a European league was ignored:

    • When a player was clearly on a conditioning stint (a handful of games after being in the NHL for more than one full year, after which they returned to NHL action,) and

    • any action in European leagues that were clearly lockout contracts in the 2012 lockout. In the absence of clear demarcation by Elite Prospects, this determination was based on activity before and after the period (NHL to Europe to NHL).


  • Game counts are used as cutoffs for certain kinds of career phases, based on an 82-game season. Twenty games is roughly 25% of an 82-game season, so any year in which a player played less than 20 games was noted. These years represent years as backups or call-ups. Fifty games is roughly 60% of an 82-game season, so these years represent years in which a player could rightfully be considered a clear starter. For the 2012-2013 season, I used 12 (25% of 48 games) and 29 (60% of 48 games) games as the cutoff and, when necessary, adjusted games played to what that percentage would have been for an 82-game season.


  • "Active in the NHL" means they played at least one game in 2012. Not being active does not mean they have retired from playing altogether, or that they will never play in the NHL in the future. Being "active" by this definition does not mean that a goaltender is a regular in the NHL.

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