Tristan Jarry likely could not have asked for a better two-year apprecenticeship.
Even highly touted young goalies typically face a lot of dues-paying at age 16 or 17. It might come through patiently waiting for spot starts thanks to the presence of a more mature goaler or by being thrust into the starter's role due to the lack of same, perhaps on a defensively deficient team. Jarry, 17, has spent his first two seasons with the reigning WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings as the netminding partner of one of major junior's best puck-stoppers, Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit. Essentially, that's given Jarry a fly-on-the-wall view of what a drafted goalie on a team with championship ambitions puts himself through daily.
"It's been great," says Jarry, who is NHL Central Scouting's No. 3-ranked North American netminder behind the Halifax Mooseheads' Zachary Fucale and Tri-City Americans' Eric Comrie. "I get to learn from him [Brossoit] and get to see his downs and his ups. I find that's really helped me this year. When he does have an off game, you see he's right back in practice — first one on the ice, last one off and he's always the hardest worker."
It appears that Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal has been judicious about when to put Jarry in goal and rest Brossoit. Seven of the netminder's 13 wins have come against teams outside the WHL playoff picture. The fact Jarry leads the WHL with a 1.68 goals-against average and .935 save percentage and is third with five shutouts should be taken with a grain of salt. However, in December, Jarry delivered a 37-save signature performance in a win over a potent Kamloops team while Brossoit was at Canada's national junior team selection camp. He was also his team's player of the game at last month's CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax, where he did not allow a goal. Suffice to say, Jarry's progress suggests Edmonton should not face a drop-off between the pipes when Brossoit turns pro next season.
"I just need to continue with the same things that I'm doing," Jarry says. "Practising hard, showing the coaches I want to play and when I do get my chance, showing I deserve it."
It is never easy to play 'predict the round' for a draft-year goalie. Comrie, despite hip surgery, and Fucale are the picks of the Canadian goaltending crop in this draft class. Jarry, though, seems to meet the NHL's specs for a goalie; he has the size at 6-foot-2 and 181 pounds and seems to have that even-keel goalie personality.
"I started out when I was seven years old," he says. "There was a goalie camp in my town, North Delta, and I thought I would go out for fun and see what it was like. After that, I ended up getting hooked on it. It was just having all the pressure on me, knowing you're the last resort to help the team. Being able to put the team on your back, I like that."
1. You have to be yourself, but which goalie(s) in the NHL do you watch particularly closely for pointers?
"[The Montreal Canadiens'] Carey Price — how he's so poised in net and never overreacts to anything. I really want to pride myself on that."
2. Outside of family, who has had the most lasting impact on your hockey career?
"Probably Angelo Maggio. He's been there since Day 1 of goaltending for me. I really pride myself on knowing him ... he's always hard on you, he always knows what you need to work on but he's easy to talk to.."
3. What is your favourite road rink in the Western League?
"There's a few, but it's probably Portland [the Rose Garden]. It was so loud during the playoffs there that the noise shook your seat on the bench. Otherwise, Moose Jaw [Mosaic Place] is also a good one. All that playoff atmosphere, you can't get any better than that."
4. What do you consider your proudest hockey achievement?
"Last year, being part of a WHL championship was probably the biggest thing for me even though I didn't get to start or anything [during the playoffs]. It was a great feeling."
5. When you need a timeout from hockey, what's something you like to do?
"Probably go for a bike ride up on the mountain near my home [in Delta]."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.