TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- With 2012 NHL All-Star Jimmy Howard locked up for six years, veteran netminder Jonas Gustavsson behind him, and AHL All-Star Petr Mrazek a phone call away in Grand Rapids, the Red Wings are already deep between the pipes. None of that has stopped the Detroit brass from stockpiling young goalies in the system.
In fact, in the last year, the Red Wings have added two young goaltenders, Jake Paterson, a 2012 third-rounder (80th overall), and Jared Coreau, an undrafted free agent from Northern Michigan University, to their future core.
Just a few months ago, the 19-year-old Jake Paterson led his Saginaw Spirit to the OHL playoffs before they were defeated by the eventual champs, the London Knights. Despite losing to the OHL powerhouse, Paterson shined in Game 2, making a remarkable 67 saves in a 3-2 OT loss. He started fifty games last season, winning half of them (25-18-5, 3.53 GAA, .901 SV %).
Coming into the draft, the Wings had him ranked as a top-three North American goalie for his class, and were especially sold after a fantastic pre-draft fitness test the NHL draft combine. Among 100 prospects, he scored in the top three of two vertical jump tests, second in two push-up tests, first in push strength, seventh in pull strength and seventh in leg power testing. Those results combined with an impressive second half of last season give the Wings a meshminder that gets them excited.
“I look at Paterson as a no frills goalie,” said Red Wings goaltending coach Jim Bedard. “He relies on positioning and patience. He’s quick and tight, a hell of a competitor, and well-liked by his teammates.”
Paterson’s played well in his first two games in prospects’ camp, coming two minutes from a shutout in the team’s 3-1 win over Minnesota and a solid outing in last night’s 4-1 win over St. Louis.
“This is a great way to start of his season,” Bedard said. “He’s on our radar, and obviously he’s on the radar for Team Canada world juniors, so this is an important couple of months for Jake.”
Paterson will return to OHL with Saginaw in 2013-14 and will vie for Canada’s starting job at the 2014 IIHF world junior championship.
Despite taking a different journey into the Wings’ system, Coreau, a 6-foot-5 prospect, gives Detroit the same result: an intriguing goalie prospect.
After his NMU Wildcats fell to Michigan in the CCHA playoffs last season, Coreau was ranked as one of the top college free-agents of 2013. Reportedly having seven NHL teams interested in his services, the Wings signed him to an entry-level contract.
“What really strikes us with Jared is his size,” Bedard said. “He’s got great feet, he competes and battles on every shot.”
Coreau carried Northern Michigan into the postseason last year, regardless of the fact that his team finished 10th among 11 CCHA teams in goals-scored. Playing at an under-the-radar school like NMU, Coreau’s big numbers (2.70 GAA, .919 Sv%, a CCHA leading 1,109 SV) were all the more impressive coming against big name colleges, like Michigan and Michigan State.
“When you’re that big, you cover a lot of net and when you put good feet with big size, you expect a lot of good thing,” Bedard said. “This is his first time going through the Red Wings process and we’re very excited about it.”
Like Paterson, Coreau has performed at the Red Wings prospects tournament, guiding the team to a 4-2 win over a talented Dallas Stars team. Coreau will be in net tonight when the Wings take on the Sabres in this year’s finals matchup.
As an AHL rookie next season, Coreau will battle Tom McCollum for the right to back-up Mrazek in Grand Rapids, but could also see some ECHL time with the Toledo Walleye.