Many know I don’t have the highest opinion of Leland Irving when it comes to his NHL potential.
I stand by that opinion today, so it should tell you something that even though I’ve been thoroughly pessimistic when it comes to Irving’s NHL-level skill, I still have him ranked the second highest out of all the panelists surveyed for this project. What exactly is being said by those rankings is up for interpretation – but make no mistake, people are not as bullish on Irving as they were 6(!) summers ago.
Irving – selected with the 26th overall pick in the 2006 entry draft – was, from day one, thought of by some to be the heir to Miikka Kiprusoff’s throne.
Irving… may eventually take over for ‘Kipper’. [Hockey News, 2006]
Regardless, he’s a lock as a future NHL starter. [Goalie Guild, 2009]
It’s no secret that goaltenders take longer to develop then forwards or defencemen, but given that people have been using the word “starter” around him for so long, you’d want to see a little progression, wouldn’t you? Well, depending on what numbers you like to use, you have seen progression. Not a lot, but a little.
Irving has gradually been increasing his workload in terms of shots against and was among the league leaders in wins for Abbotsford in 2010-2011, but he’s had a few missteps in his career – the demotion to the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings in 2009-2010, being passed by Danny Taylor late in the season in Abbotsford this year and the Boston debacle are the big ones. Generally, he’s been able to climb out of the holes he’s dug for himself.
|Player||Kent||Justin||WI||Scott||VF||Arik (not counted)|
*Reminder – The evaluators were asked to rank players, and we sorted the rankings via a simple point scale-number 15 on each list got one point, while number 1 on each list got 15. The criteria for who was included was pretty simple: players the Flames control who are 23 and under (excluding Mikael Backlund, since he’s already a bona fide NHLer).
Irving – now 24 (23 when the list was compiled), meaning this is the only time he’ll show up on these rankings as a “prospect” – has had a rough go of things from a statistical standpoint in his professional career, averaging a .909 SV% over 5031 shots. Kent took a closer look at Irving’s SV% and how it/he compared to other goaltenders a while ago and the results were not, shall we say, spectacular.
Irving has a ton of physical tools and he seems to have that ice-water-in-his-veins quality that is always great to see in goalies. However, I’ve noticed little tics in his play; namely, his pads move in a funny way when he drops into the butterfly, leaving a pretty large five-hole. Other then that, though, his positioning is strong. Oddly, though, his lack of “girth” (i.e. he is skinny) is mentioned as a negative a couple of places around the web, as he doesn’t fill the net as much as his frame suggests.
Depending on what happens between now and the start of training camp, Irving may be slotted in to play significant minutes for the club come October. This makes me a little nervous, especially with the consistent beating of the “going for it!” drum. I do hope Irving proves me wrong for a number of reasons – obviously I want to see any member of the Flames system succeed – but as time passes I’m less and less convinced of his ability to do that.
|Player||Kent||Justin||WI||Scott||VF||Arik (NC)||Final Rank|