The Winnipeg Jets have clinched a playoff berth and that means when they play their final game on Saturday, some prospects will get a look. This includes St Johns IceCaps goaltender Connor Hellebuyc .
The 21 year old is a former college standout with UMass Lowell where he was awarded the Mike Richter award for the top goaltender in the NCAA. He also led his team to a Frozen Four appearance.
After two strong college seasons Hellebuyck signed an entry level deal with Winnipeg. Since joining the American Hockey League, Hellebuyck has shone.
With 58 games played this season Hellebuyck has already broke the St Johns record for games started by a goaltender. He has six shutouts on the season to go along with a 2.58 goals against average.
Earlier this season Heebuyck broke an IceCaps record for saves with 50 against the Worcester Shark .
Hellebuyck will get the start against the Calgary Flames this afternoon. The Jets over the years have done well at the goaltending position. They signed Michael Hutchinson in the off season and have had Ondrej Pavelec since their Atlanta days. If he performs well, Hellebuyck could emerge as a new option for next season.
The former fifth round pick has had an exceptionally quick path to the NHL. At 21 years old he is making his debut at what is considered a young age for goaltenders. He needed justctwo college seasons before becoming an everyday starter at the pro leve .
Hellebuyck is currently the second d UMass Lowell River Hawks product in the NHL along with Nashville Predators backup Carter Hutto . Last season he was the first team goaltender for the all Hockey East team and put up a stellar 1.79 goals against average.
“I always wanted to go to college,” Hellebuyck said to NHL.com on January 15th. “[UMass Lowell] were the first people to come down to Odessa and see me. After I talked to their goalie coach, Cam Ellsworth, he kind of sold the school really well to me. I thought it was a perfect fit. If there was anywhere I would choose, I would choose there.”
This season Hellebuyck has had the opportunity to work with veteran gkslie Peter Budaj in St Johns. Hellebuyck took over as the starter rather quickly, beating out the former NHL starte .
The Jets don’t have a ton to play for, but this is a great opportunity for them to have a look at who might become their future goalie.