Finally! Not a defenseman! Or even a skater, actually. Checking in at #15 is netminder J.F. Berube.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Nationality||Draft||Current League||2014 Rank|
||7/13/1991||CAN||95 (4th)||AHL (Ontario Reign)||22|
Berube narrowly missed our rankings in 2013, but jumped into #22 in 2014. A year later, he's leapt into the #15 spot after backstopping the Manchester Monarchs to their first Calder Cup.
As the official full-time starter for Manchester, Berube matched his career high save percentage from the year before. He had his highs and lows throughout the year, as every player will, but he was better at putting together consistent performances more than he was able to before. However, he did struggle a bit with consistency throughout the playoffs and he nearly cost the team a series win in the first round. Thankfully, he managed to pull himself together in the fifth and final game with the help of the AHL's top defense to shut down the Portland Pirates (hey why does that seem so familiar...).
popular Rudy's opinion during the Monarchs' championship run, Berube doesn't really suck. He's your basic, average goaltender. His .907 save % was similar to other goalies who were taken in the 2009 draft, which isn't saying much given that most of them don't seem to have panned out. The most notable names are Anders Nilsson, Darcy Kuemper, and Joni Ortio. Nilsson and Ortio have shown flashes of promise, while Kuemper had a bad season that saw his time with the Minnesota Wild end after they decided Devan Dubnyk was the guy.
At 6'1, Berube is a great athlete with solid fundamentals and much like a former French-Canadian goalie in the Kings' system, plays a traditional butterfly style. He is agile and quick in the crease and doesn't give up on pucks. He is also known for his wicked glove, which seems to be faster than most other average goalies. The biggest hole in Berube's game is that pucks still seem to leak through the nimble netminder. He plays his angles well in general, but those occasional slow rollers tend to get through more often than perhaps they should.
Coaches and scouting staff have credited Berube's great mental strength as a key asset to his game and believe that he could at least make a decent NHL backup goalie. With Jhonas Enroth signed to be Quick's backup for the year, there's little chance that we find out this season. Berube likely has to clear waivers in order to remain in the organization. Considering their faith in Jonathan Quick, if that happens, the Kings are just losing a goalie who can stop the puck most of the time and at least give the team a shot at winning, not a future starter or goalie extraordinaire.
It's hard to say if Berube will be like Nilsson or Ortio and show potential, or if he'll be like Jacob Markstrom and crumble when he reaches the next level. And at 24 years old, it would appear that Berube is perhaps on the upper end of do-or-don't with regards to his prospect status. However, he's had a lot of injuries and always come stronger while proving his doubters wrong. No matter what happens after camp ends, Berube still appears to have a bright future ahead of him.