Drew MacIntyre: What you Need to Know about Our New Goaltender

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While everyone was focused on the Ehrhoff and Leino sigings and the Regehr trade, the Sabres quietly added a very good netminder to the organization.

It went a bit under-reported, and most fans in Buffalo were left scratching their heads over not only over what MacIntyre brings to the crease, but why the organization brought him in. Some even jumped to the conclusion that it was a move that signaled an impending trade of Jhonas Enroth.

DrewMacIntyre1 300x225 Drew MacIntyre: What you Need to Know about Our New Goaltender

Our new Man Behind the Fiberglass/Kevlar Mask

MacIntyre will be in Rochester for the 2011-12 season (barring any injuries at HSBC), but just how good is this guy? To get more info on him, we headed straight over to The “The Goalie Guild,” an information and scouting destination for all things netminder related. Justin Goldman, member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association and contributor to NHL.com, is one of the best minds to pick when it comes to what to expect from a anyone wearing a goaltender’s mask.

Goldman gave us a full profile on MacIntyre, and you’re going to like what he had to say. Take it away, Justin:

A brief report of Drew MacIntyre starts and ends with me saying he’s essentially an NHL-ready goalie that continues to work extremely hard to earn his shot at an NHL backup role. Many good prospects experience this over the course of their minor league career, and some are more - or less in Drew’s situation - lucky than others.

After a steady four-year QMJHL career for Sherbrooke (1999-2003), Drew started off his pro career as a Red Wings prospect and played three seasons for both Toledo (ECHL) and Grand Rapids (AHL). On September 12, 2006, he was traded to Vancouver for future considerations, thus starting the next chapter of his AHL career.

I think MacIntyre proved he was NHL-ready after the 2007-2008 season. He was named the AHL Player of the Week in late-February and finished his second season in Manitoba with a 25-18-2 record, a 2.32 GAA and .921 SP%. During that season, he split time with current Canucks backup Cory Schneider.

Drew did experience his NHL debut with the Canucks that season when Roberto Luongo had a very minor injury, but it wasn’t the type of opportunity he needed to really prove he was ready to fully graduate from the AHL. Two games just wasn’t enough of a sample size to work with.

Since that time, MacIntyre bounced over to the Predators organization, where he had a very strong 2008-09 campaign for Milwaukee. There he learned even more about being prepared for the NHL from someone most Sabres fans know very well – goalie coach Mitch Korn. MacIntyre had a career-high 34 wins that season and posted a .921 SP% with a 2.30 GAA and four shutouts.

From there, Drew moved to the Thrashers organization, where he wrestled for almost two years with Peter Mannino for minutes. When he was finally traded to Montreal in the second half of last season, he caught fire thanks to an elevated role and consistent starts. In 21 games with Hamilton, Drew went 12-6-2 with a 1.89 GAA and .938 SP%. His run in the AHL playoffs was of similar quality.

Once again, MacIntyre was in a situation where he was clearly ready to take on an NHL backup role, but was an unrestricted free agent. The Habs were in need of a new backup, they had the chance to retain MacIntyre’s rights and graduate him to the NHL, but they elected to sign Peter Budaj instead.

That one was another jagged pill to swallow. MacIntyre could be regarded as having a similar skill-set to Budaj, but simply lacks the years of NHL experience.

So from one organization to the next, MacIntyre has constantly proved he’s ready to earn that NHL backup role, but has never been given the opportunity. In Vancouver, he was stifled by Curtis Sanford and Schneider. In Nashville, it was Pekka Rinne, Chris Mason and Dan Ellis. In Chicago, it was mainly Mannino and Mason again that kept him in the AHL. And in Montreal, it was the acquisition of Budaj that crushed Drew’s chances to back up Carey Price.

In MacIntyre, the Sabres have a goalie who has been patiently waiting for an opportunity to prove he can be an NHL backup. He’s a very well-rounded goaltender in terms of technique and skill, has plenty of confidence and is mentally composed. He’s a 28-year-old veteran with plenty of miles logged and a lot of experience, so expect a steady performer that knows what it takes to play in a consistent manner.

Since turning pro back in 2001, MacIntyre has posted the following save percentages in chronological order: .919 (ECHL), .902, .926 (ECHL), .922, .921, .921, .917 and then a split with .906 in Chicago and .938 in Hamilton. If you’re interested, take this one step further by looking at Mark Dekanich’s season-by-season save percentages. He was also a top-flight AHL goaltender last season, but the Blue Jackets signed him to back up Steve Mason.

The main thing to take away from MacIntyre’s career is that, no matter how unfair it may seem, some goalies fight for years and years and years to get that one chance to shine and establish an NHL presence. And Drew is still waiting for his. He’s been very close more than a few times…and maybe in Buffalo it will finally happen.

A big thank you to Goldman for that in-depth report.

Fans in Rochester should be pretty happy with this information – and if something happens up in the big club this coming season, Buffalo fans now know much more of what to expect if he needs to step in as a backup, or even as a starting netminder.

Go Sabres. Oh, and Go Amerks.

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