|Ryan Moir led Gatineau to the President’s Cup as QMJHL playoff champions with a 16-2 postseason record and a 2.56 goals-against average.|
Mior believes he’s in the exact same place today -- battling for a contract to play pro hockey -- that he would have been had some team taken a flier him at any of the NHL Entry Drafts from 2005-07.
“When I was younger I was more upset about (not getting drafted), but now I know I have as equal a chance as anybody as long as I get into a training camp,” Mior told NHL.com earlier this month during a break at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect development camp. “As long as you’re playing well, it doesn’t matter.”
If that’s true, teams should be lining up to sign this 21-year-old prospect.
Mior came to the Jackets’ camp fresh off of a record-setting, championship season for the Gatineau Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
He led Gatineau to the President’s Cup as QMJHL playoff champions with a 16-2 postseason record and a 2.56 goals-against average. He went 30-15-5 with a 2.77 GAA and .900 save percentage during the regular season.
Mior’s 270 career appearances (regular season and postseason combined) are a QMJHL record for goaltenders. So are his 15 career shutouts, six of which came this past season, breaking the franchise record of five previously held by Jose Theodore.
However, throughout his junior career, all he earned was invites to prospect camps in Buffalo, New York, Boston and now Columbus.
Mior, though, said he will be playing for Columbus at the Traverse City Prospect Evaluation Tournament in mid-September. He’ll have to stand on his head to earn an invite to an NHL training camp, be it in Columbus or somewhere else.
“If he’s there, that’s a better read for us because they are real games and the kids are playing for something, so they bond a bit together,” Paul Castron, the Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting, told NHL.com. “That will be his chance to shine to earn himself some kind of contract, whether it’s for the AHL or NHL, you never know.”
Mior came to Columbus’ camp earlier this month as a relative unknown.
Castron said he saw him only a few times this past season, mostly during the playoffs. Tyler Wright, who is the Jackets’ development coach, also got to monitor Mior a bit during the QMJHL playoffs, but only because Gatineau was playing the Halifax Mooseheads, whose best player, Jakub Voracek, is the Jackets’ top prospect.
“He’s a classic, butterfly goaltender and he came into prospect camp prepared to win a job here,” Wright said. “He’s worked really hard. You almost have to handle goalies differently because they may take a little longer.”
Mior is the perfect example.
Benoit Groulx, Gatineau’s coach and general manager, said he took some heat from the local media covering the Olympiques when he traded for Mior in late December in 2006.
Mior was in the middle of his third-straight disappointing season for Prince Edward Island and had gained a reputation as a goalie who didn’t work very hard.
Groulx, who will also coach Team Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships, saw enough in him to take a chance, mostly because he was unhappy with his own goaltending situation and wanted to shake things up.
“He got drafted by PEI in the first round and at 17 years old he was their No. 1 on a team that wasn’t very good,” Groulx told NHL.com. “We made him realize he had to improve (his) attitude and work ethic. It took him, I would say, five months to realize how important it was and how much better he can be if he would have been in better shape.”
Mior was 9-12 with a 3.64 GAA for PEI before the trade. He closed the 2006-07 season with a 14-11 record and 3.27 GAA for the Olympiques. His performance was just OK, but Mior said he was going through the normal adjustment period with a new team.
“He finally turned the corner last October when he started to train,” Groulx said. “He improved (his) work ethic. His attitude was much better. He became an example for not only the young kids, but his backup goalie, Maxime Clermont, who is only 16 years old. He broke records. He’s one of the reasons why we were able to upset Halifax.”
Mior said his confidence is now at an all-time high, thanks mostly to winning the President’s Cup. He claims that he’s a different goalie as a result.
“I think it started in the summer (of 2007) when I met with (Benoit) and was questioning whether I would come back and play or go to school,” Mior said. “He said he wants me back and believes we can accomplish great things. I believed what he was saying. He was right.”
Mior is hoping that confidence makes up for the fact that he remains an undrafted free agent trying to convince teams he’s more worthy of a contract than anyone already in their system.
“Everything I do on the ice depends on what is happening in the future,” Mior said. “As of right now it’s pretty unclear, but reality (is) if I get a chance to play I think I can start off in the AHL and hopefully have a chance to work my way up.”
He said his backup plan is enroll at the University of Waterloo and study business, but his hockey career isn’t dead just yet.
If he’s lucky, it may just be getting started.
“He definitely deserves an invitation somewhere,” Groulx said. “Is he going to get one? I don’t know, but he deserves one for sure. He is talented and with the confidence he’s got now and his maturity, I think he’s a good gamble.”
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com