LA Kings' Top 25 Under 25: #23 - Patrik Bartosak

Thanks for single-handily ending European goalies in the CHL, Patrik. Jerk.

Patrik Bartosak is a Czech-born goalie who has spent the past three seasons playing in the WHL, one of the three leagues in Canadian major junior hockey. Unfortunately, he's one of the last European goalies who will ever be able to say that, thanks to a stupid and xenophobic ban on European netminders.

Rank Player DOB Nationality Draft Vote Total Last Year
23 Patrik Bartosak 3/29/1993 CZE 146 (5th) 60 NR

(Regarding the vote total: please remember that there were 14 voters, ranking from 25 to 1. Thus, the maximum possible vote total was 350.)

Those are some very solid numbers Patrik put up in his Western Hockey League career. Overall Bartosak had a save percentage of .927 on 4,906 regular season shots, strong numbers to be sure (for comparison's sake, Martin Jones, who also played in the WHL, had a save percentage of .912 on 3,699 regular season shots). Bartosak also took home a significant piece of hardware, winning the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL's goalie of the year for the 2012-13 season. Jones, too, also took home that honor in 2009-10. The full list of award winners have not all panned out, obviously, but there are plenty of guys on that list who have at least seen some playing time in the NHL: Darcy Kuemper (2010-11, 32 games with the Wild), Carey Price (2006-07, starter for the Habs), Justin Pogge (2005-06, 7 games with the Maple Leafs), Cam Ward (2003-04 & 2001-02, starter for the Hurricanes), Josh Harding (2002-03, regular backup/sometimes starter for the Wild), and Dan Blackburn (2000-01, was starter for the Rangers before injuries forced him into early retirement). Certainly it's not a bad list to be on at all, and it also includes guys like Chet Pickard and Tyler Bunz (hahahaha his name is basically "butts") who are still considered prospects that might develop into legitimate NHL goaltenders.

Bartosak actually went back into the draft twice, as he was passed over in 2010-11 and 2011-12, despite putting up pretty good numbers in the Czech league in 2010-11 (.934 in 13 games in their U18 league, .914 in 37 games in their U20 league, and .917 in 5 games in the world U18 touranment) as well as in 2011-12 with Red Deer (.915). When his save percentage suddenly leaped up to .935 in 2012-13 and he was thus named WHL goalie of the year, the Kings decided to make his third time in the draft a charm and pick him up in the 5th round.

It seems worth asking why the WHL's goalie of the year took until the 5th round to be drafted. Part of it may have been some healthy skepticism with his enormous leap in year-to-year stats (it was very nice to see him only regress to a .924 the following year, rather than back below the .920 mark or so). Another part of it was apparently concern with his "unorthodox" style. Here is an excerpt from a pre-draft profile of Patrik, via the Complete Sport News website:

There is little wonder as to why Bartosak was named the CHL and WHL goalie of the year after the completion of his most recent hockey campaign, and there is little reason to doubt that Bartosak can adjust his game to suit the NHL if he winds up getting drafted this summer. Bartosak has already proven that he can perform well under pressure in North America as well as in international play. Even though some might point to Bartosak's unorthodox style of play when expressing concerns over drafting a goalie that plays such an odd style in net, Bartosak is more of a project at this point of his hockey career. Of course, any young goalie could use some refinement to certain aspects of their game, and Bartosak is no different. While Bartosak might not be the most sought after goalie at this year's NHL Entry Draft, the 20-year old certainly has enough upside and raw talent to be selected by an NHL team for further development

Man, what is it with the Kings and "unorthodox" goalies? Oh well.

The article doesn't really explain what, exactly, makes Bartosak's playing style so "odd", but it even says he has no NHL comparable, so it must really be something! Bartosak did get high marks in the write-up for just about everything except said odd playing style, though: athleticism, size, puck tracking, and hockey IQ, among other things. He's also described numerous times as being a fairly "raw" player, so the smart money would not have him up in the NHL anytime soon. He played well for Manchester last year in his first four starts at the AHL level, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue to develop there.

One final question about Bartosak: is he responsible for the end of European goalies in the CHL? In case you missed it, last summer the CHL banned European goalies from taking part in their import draft, which means once any goalies who were already in the league prior to the ban are gone (they will be allowed to finish their junior eligibility), European goalies will disappear from Canadian major junior hockey. Hockey Canada put pressure on the CHL to implement the ban, feeling that opening up more spots (indeed, all the spots) for Canadian goalies in the CHL will allow them to develop better and hopefully narrow what has become a rather enormous gulf between Canada and the other hockey nations in net, especially in the World Juniors (U20 tournament) that they love so much. Most of the reaction to the move was largely negative, feeling it's just a kneejerk xenophobic move that won't address the real problem with Canadian goaltending (poor development at the lower levels before the tenders ever even reach the CHL).

However, the Calgary Sun decided to take tongue-in-cheek aim at a different culprit for the ban than xenophobia: Bartosak! The article is actually a pretty fun read, and I'm just going to go ahead and run with it. From now on, Patrik Bartosak, to me, will be "the guy who single-handily ruined it for all other young European goalies". All your fault Patrik. I hope you're proud of yourself.