Corey Masisak has a profile of Michal Neuvirth in today's WTimes and his desire to turn pro this coming season rather than return to Plymouth of the OHL.
"I don't want to play with Plymouth for sure because we have a very young team, so I think we're not going to make playoffs this year," Neuvirth said. Well, you're certainly not going to make the playoffs with that attitude.
Someone who has forgotten more about goaltending than Neuvirth likely every will know, Caps goalie coach Dave Prior, believes a tougher year in the OHL could be good for Neuvirth. "I think there is some benefit in going through adversity. Obviously, his team has to rebuild a lot and won't be nearly as strong. In Michal's case, it could be a good challenge to try to be the difference."
But Neuvirth has promise and may be better served in Hershey being mentored by Freddy Cassivi and being coached at a higher level (for what it's worth, I don't think the organization is in love with Daren Machesney, the putative number two goaltender in Chocolatetown). Coach Hanlon had these thoughts to offer on the matter:
"He is going to determine where he ends up playing.... We come with a few preconceived notions and evaluations that we have before camp on some players obviously. The higher end player, the more you’ve accomplished the easier it is to sort of slot where you are. There are always a handful at training camp where it’s wait and see what you do.
"We don’t ever want to take away the fact that if you come here, work hard and show that you can play at a certain level and the rules allow you – because of his situation – allow him to be in the American Hockey League. And if the player and management feel that it’s the best thing for him, then we’ll put him where he deserves to be playing."
[It's also worth noting that, because of his place of birth, the AHL is an option that Neuvirth has that other similarly-situated youngsters (like Francois Bouchard) do not. As Masisak reminds us:
Players from the three Canadian junior leagues who were born in North America are not eligible to play in the American Hockey League or East Coast Hockey League until they turn 20, but because Neuvirth was born in Europe, he could start the season with Hershey or South Carolina as a 19-year-old.]
So Michal Neuvirth will make his case to be a Hershey Bear over the next few days, but ultimately it will be up to the Caps to decide whether it will be better for his development to spend a year getting number one goalie minutes on a potentially bad OHL team or number two minutes on a good AHL team. Where would you send the kid?
Finally, the Super Series wrapped up last night, but not before Karl Alzner potted his first goal of the series. Over the eight games, Alzner had a goal and three assists (and impressed the hell out of everyone who was watching - "few insiders would be shocked if the Hitmen blueliner sticks with the Washington Capitals this fall"), fellow Caps blueline prospect Josh Godfrey ended up with six assists in six games and Simeon Varlamov wound up with a 4.71 GAA and a .861 save percentage in seven periods of work.