By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2018-19 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on goalie Kaden Fulcher.
When free agent invitee Kaden Fulcher arrived at Red Wings development camp in July 2017, the 6-foot-4, 199-pound netminder knew he was facing some stiff competition to make an impression on Detroit's brain trust.
There were five other goalies in development camp at Traverse City's Centre Ice Arena and each one of them had ties to the Wings organization.
Filip Larsson, Keith Petruzzelli, Chase Perry and Joren van Pottelberghe were Detroit draft picks, while Czech goalie Matej Machovsky was signed as a free agent by the Wings on May 2, 2017.
But Fulcher showed enough in development camp to earn an invite to Detroit's prospect tournament and Red Wings training camp in September.
Once again, Fulcher stood out and on October 3, 2017, the Red Wings signed the Brigden, Ontario native to a three-year entry-level deal.
After he signed with the Wings, Fulcher played one more season of junior hockey for the OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs, where he put together an outstanding season (32-17-2, 2.86 GAA, .899 SV%, three shutouts), leading the Bulldogs to the OHL championship and being named the CHL Memorial Cup Most Outstanding Goaltender.
In 115 career OHL games with the Sarnia Sting (2015-16) and Bulldogs (2015-18), Fulcher was 57-44-13 with a 3.19 goals-against average, an .893 save percentage and five shutouts.
Fulcher turned pro last season and spent a majority of the campaign with the Wings' ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye. Fulcher was called up twice as a backup to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins but didn't see any action.
When Jonathan Bernier went down with an upper-body injury in the final week of the regular season, Fulcher was summoned from the Griffins to Detroit to back up Jimmy Howard.
On April 6, Fulcher made his NHL debut in relief of Howard in Detroit's 7-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Little Caesars Arena in the Wings' last game of the season.
A big netminder with good overall skills, Fulcher must continue to show improvement in tracking the puck and maintaining his concentration, allowing him to anticipate the play without becoming herky-jerky in net.
If Fulcher can progress as the Red Wings believe he will, he'll contend for the starting job in Grand Rapids next season or at the very least, be slated to be the starter for the Walleye.
Any way it shakes out, Fulcher appears to have a future in the Red Wings organization.
28 - During his rookie pro season, Fulcher shared the net with veteran goalie and Bloomfield, Mich. native Pat Nagle. Fulcher backstopped the Walleye in 28 games while Nagle played in 41 Toledo contests.
15 - Fulcher's win total for Toledo. Nagle was tops in wins for Toledo with 22.
7 - In his 28 games for the Walleye, Fulcher lost seven in regulation.
6 - His losses in overtime (4) and in shootouts (2).
3.00 - Fulcher's goals-against average. Nagle's goals-against average of 2.81 led the Walleye.
.899 - As a first-year pro, Fulcher's .899 save percentage was somewhat disappointing. Nagle's save percentage was .910.
1 - On March 3 against the Indy Fuel, Fulcher recorded his first career professional shutout. He stopped 27 shots in the Walleye's 5-0 thrashing of the Fuel.
27 - When Fulcher was called up to the Red Wings under emergency conditions from Grand Rapids on March 30, many believed he would play out the season as Howard's backup and not see any playing time. However, with the Wings trailing Buffalo, 5-1, in their last game of the season on April 6, Fulcher made his NHL debut in relief of Howard. He played 27 minutes, stopped nine of the 11 shots he faced and finished with a goals-against average of 4.41 and a save percentage of .818.
Quotable: "In his 28 starts in Toledo, it was a step forward in his development. Maybe he didn't want to finish the year the way he had with numbers per se, but he had a good record. He came up a couple practices in Grand Rapids, I worked with him closely there, worked with him probably 30 times in Toledo heading down there throughout the year. I expect more from him in the summer, make sure I give him the right drills and tools with his goalie coach so that he comes and gives Filip Larsson a push come camp time. Definitely saw improvement with Kaden's game. He's ready to make that next push so that he can try to earn a spot in Grand Rapids.
"I think more than anything, his hands (he needs to work on the most). Because he's so long-limbed, it's a matter of just not overreacting and that's hard for a taller goalie. You have to make a taller goalie honestly play a little bit smaller because you have to fill the dimensions of the net properly and he has to command his body a little bit better. That's just ultimately reps and habits and proper training, especially in stationary drills and shooting drills that are specific to those needs of location, where the puck is being manipulated and to little corners of his hips, his elbows, his ears so he can keep his glove out in front of him." Brian Mahoney-Wilson, Red Wings goaltending development coach