The long history of the Dallas Stars has revealed that having a nice minor-league goalie battle can actually be a really good thing.
Marty Turco and Manny Fernandez butted heads back in 1999, and both went on to successful NHL careers. Same goes for Mike Smith and Dan Ellis circa 2005. It's a patented plan that often brings out the best in both goalies.
That seems to be the blueprint for the 2019-20 season, as well, as Jake Oettinger will join Colton Point and Landon Bow in a trio that will likely play in both the AHL and ECHL. Oettinger said he's excited about the competition.
"You're a professional hockey player and you're going to have to beat out really good goalies no matter where you are," said Oettinger, who is at Comerica Center in Frisco this week for Stars Development Camp. "I think the competition is healthy."
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Oettinger, 20, was a first-round draft pick (26th overall) in 2017 and signed his three-year, entry level contract this season after three years at Boston University.
"It's a dream come true," he said. "It's something I've been looking forward to ever since I was drafted. To finally turn pro is exciting, and I'm looking forward to the year ahead of me."
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After going 16-16-4 in his junior year at BU with a 2.45 goals against average and .926 save percentage, Oettinger was called up to the Texas Stars and played six games in the AHL, going 3-2-1 with a 2.47 GAA and .895 save percentage.
"It was great," Oettinger said. "There were a lot of things that were different than playing college, and to get those three weeks under my belt was huge. To get to know the guys and the trainers, just makes my adjustment to pro hockey that much easier."
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Development Camp is also a good tool to use. The big goalie (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) said previous camps have helped his athleticism and given him drills to use when he was away from the Stars. He said feels he's a much better goalie now than when he was drafted.
Oettinger said he is hoping that can help him in his competition with Point and Bow.
Point, 21, was a fifth round pick of the Stars in 2016. He split his time between the AHL and ECHL last season. Bow, 23, was signed by the Stars as a free agent in 2016. He was the No. 1 goalie with the Texas Stars last season, going 24-15-5 with a 2.89 GAA and .893 save percentage. He also made his NHL debut, allowing one goal in 59 minutes over two games.
Oettinger said he's looking forward to the competition and believes players can still be friends while competing.
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"You still have to be a good teammate. We're all on the same team," he said. "But I want to be the guy in the net and I want to be the guy who gets called up, so at the end of the day, that's what I'm looking forward to."
And while many experts say it can take longer to develop a goalie than any other position, Oettinger believes he can be the exception.
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"I think everyone's path is different. Obviously, I want to be in the NHL as fast as I can, so I don't think I need that long," he said when asked if age 24 or 25 is a realistic target. "It's all about making the most of your opportunity and playing well when you get the chance. So whether that's this fall or whenever I get my chance, I'll be ready to go.
"I don't think there's a set-in-stone path for me, I want to be in the NHL as quick as I can."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.
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