Every year, the annual IIHF World Junior Championship tournament provides young hockey players with a great opportunity to show their wares against the best players from the age-group from throughout the world. It’s a great development tool and players as varied as Jarome Iginla, Roman Horak and Leland Irving have had the chance to represent their nations at the World Juniors. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a look at the chances of the various Flames prospects vying for World Junior roster spots.
Next up is Jon Gillies.
WHO IS THIS GUY?
Calgary’s third round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Jon Gillies is a big guy. Listed as 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds by NHL Central Scouting, he covers a lot of net but plays a style that is more based on being in the right position than being really, really big.
Gillies was very good for the USHL’s Indiana Ice last season, winning 31 games with a 2.77 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. He made the jump to the NCAA’s Providence College Friars this fall.
IS HE ON THE RADAR?
In short, yes.
Gillies has been excellent thus far in the NCAA, holding the Providence College club in games that they may not have any right to be held in. The Friars are a .500 team, meaning half the time Gillies is staying alert as his team wins handily, and the other times he’s holding them in as they’re getting shelled by a better team. It’s a weird situation to be in as an 18-year-old goalie, but he’s getting a lot of ice-time under his belt.
Gillies was one of four goaltenders invited to USA Hockey’s summer camp. He was Hockey East’s Co-Rookie of the Month in October. He’s been a Defensive Player of the Week a couple times. He’s 5-4-1 with a 2.05 goals against average and a .924 save percentage while playing all but a period for the Friars. He also played with the American entry at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka tournament.
WHAT ARE HIS CHANCES?
USA Hockey invited four goalies to their camp: Kitchener Rangers starter John Gibson, Guelph Storm backstop Garret Sparks, University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Anthony Stolarz and Gillies.
Gibson has great numbers in the OHL and was Team USA’s back-up last year. He’s all-but-cemented as the American starter in Ufa at Christmas time. Stolarz is a back-up in Nebraska and hasn’t won a game yet. Sparks has strong numbers like Gibson, but he’s playing on a stronger team than Gillies, has slightly worse underlying save percentage (.912) and is the same age as Gibson.
And there’s the rub.
USA Hockey has shown no particular bias towards the OHL, NCAA or any other league. Like the proverbial honey badger, they don’t care where the good goalies are from, but they have a history of bringing a 19-year-old starter and an 18-year-old back-up, with the notion that this year’s back-up is next year’s starter. The good people at the United States of Hockey pointed this out, too.
Given this thought, there’s a significant chance the American team brings Gillies along to Russia as the back-up if he’s convinced their brass that he’s a good candidate for the starting job at the 2014 World Junior tournament in Sweden.
Gillies is far from a lock, but he’s definitely well-established with USA Hockey and his performance for Providence College has given his college coaches and (likely) the USA Hockey brass some confidence in his abilities.
Barring a complete collapse prior to (or at) the selection camp, Gillies has a strong chance to head to Russia, although likely just as John Gibson’s caddy.
World Junior Hopefuls Series
- Jon Gillies
- Ryan Culkin