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Examining the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltenders

by Evan Grossman

Complete Blue Jackets Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

Who's No. 1?

Fredrik Norrena won the top job last season between the pipes in his first year of North American hockey. The 34-year-old came over from Europe and wowed the Blue Jackets with a 24-23-3 record, a 2.78 goals-against average and a .904 save-percentage. He was a nice surprise, a lot like Niklas Backstrom was in Minnesota. But the Blue Jackets have a lot more invested in former first-rounder Pascal Leclaire, the No. 8 overall pick in 2001.

Leclaire has had injury problems and was limited to 24 games last season, so he’s got some work to do as far as winning over the new management team. Norrena was solid last season for a team that struggled and could emerge from this goaltending battle as the top guy again.

Backup plan

If Norrena wins the top job, then the backup duties fall to the 24-year-old Leclaire, who missed the last 22 games last season with a knee injury, an ailment that felled him earlier in the season as well. When healthy, Leclaire has No. 1 goalie written all over him. But he’s still learning the game and has yet to post a winning record at any level since 2003-04 when he went 21-16-3 with a 3.06 GAA and .915 save percentage for Syracuse in the AHL.

In the Wings

Tomas Popperle -- The 22-year-old was drafted in the fifth round in 2005 by Columbus and has been progressing to the point where scouts view him as a potential No. 1 goalie. He got into two games with the Jackets last season but did not have a decision. In 49 games with Syracuse of the AHL last season, he went 25-19-4 with a 2.86 GAA and .905 save percentage.

Daniel LaCosta -- Another youngster the Jackets drafted high, selected in the third round in 2004. The 21-year-old split last season between AHL Syracuse and the ECHL, winning a total of 29 games in his first pro season.

Steve Mason -- The 19-year-old was signed to an entry-level contract in the spring following the conclusion of the OHL season. Mason, who’s 6-foot-3, is expected to make his pro debut after winning 45 games last season with London.

pascal leclaire
Pascal Leclaire on making his way back to the lineup this fall after an injury plagued 2006-07 season:

"We joked about it that maybe (the team) would give us a (commemorative) stick like a pre-game award for comeback players of the year."                  

1. Pascal Leclaire has played in just 59 NHL games for the Blue Jackets since he was drafted No. 8 overall in 2001.

2. Despite their struggle to accumulate wins, Columbus was in the middle of the pack defensively, finishing 17th with 249 goals allowed.

3. The Blue Jackets used five goalies last season; four of them had victories.'s 2007-08 Blue Jackets Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster


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