Yesterday it was reported that 21-year-old Russian goalie Alexei Melnichuk is set to sign with the San Jose Sharks. Let’s take a look at what the goaltender could bring to San Jose.
With the San Jose Sharks being evidently thin at the goaltender position, it makes great sense that the team would sign a young goalie with some potential.
And with North America being thin with young, good goalies, it makes even more sense that the Sharks would look elsewhere besides Canada and the United States for a potential successor for current starter Martin Jones.
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Alexei Melnichuk is just 21-years-old and has the potential to be very good with the right system and coaches. It was reported yesterday by Russian reporter Igor Eronko that Melnichuk is set to sign with the Sharks.
Over the past two years, Melnichuk has played in the three highest leagues in Russia — the MHL, VHL, and KHL — for his hometown St. Petersburg teams.
Last year, although he was on the team’s roster, Melnichuk didn’t actually play in any games in the KHL. However, he suited up for 30 games in the VHL, posting a 1.73 GAA and .924 SV%. Melnichuk only played one game in the MHL, posting a shutout.
This season, Melnichuk has played primarily in Russia’s highest league, the KHL. In 16 games in the KHL, Melnichuk posted a 1.68 GAA, .930 SV%, and four shutouts. Melnichuk was also very good in the VHL this season. In eight games, he recorded a 1.95 GAA and .925 SV%.
Now, I know that goals-against average is also a representation of how good the team is at defense, but it’s very promising that Melnichuk has sustained such a great GAA over the past two seasons, across three different leagues.
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What to expect from Melnichuk
With the Sharks signing Melnichuk, it seems they are taking the route that the New York Rangers took with Russian phenom Igor Shesterkin and the New York Islanders are trying to take with possible Russian phenom Ilya Sorokin.
However, both of these goaltenders are a few years older than Melnichuk and had much more experience playing and starting in the KHL.
Shesterkin played just 25 games in the AHL this season before being called up to the NHL and if Sorokin signs with the Isles he will most likely be playing in the NHL right away.
At just 21-years-old with limited starting experience in the KHL, I would expect Melnichuk to play at least a full season in the AHL. He doesn’t seem as good as the two goalies previously mentioned and may take longer to adapt to the style and level of play here in North America.
However, if he can adapt, Melnichuk could be the potential successor for Martin Jones the Sharks are looking for.