So much for Philadelphia Flyers second-rounder Anthony Stolarz using his four full years of college eligibility to develop his vast potential. The goalie is sapparently headed to the London Knights, according to a release from the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, who have already taken Stolarz's name off their roster.
It's a move sure to arouse skepticism and furrow brows. Do the stacked Knights really need another goalie? Wouldn't Stolarz have the net to himself once Nebraska-Omaha senior goalie John Faulkner graduates? Nevertheless, the 6-foot-6 goalie appears to be London-bound. Presumably, a goalie with his NHL draft stock is not coming to be the third-stringer, either.
Stolarz, an 18-year-old New Jersey native, is the classic late blooming goalie who's a bit of a project. Knights goaltending coach Bill Dark is highly regarded and has some extensive experience helping a tall goalie work at learning to coordinate his limbs, going back to the season he spent working with Anaheim Ducks farmhand Igor Bobkov in 2010-11. Dark also helped former Knights goalie Michael Houser land a free-agent contract in the Florida Panthers organization last summer.
Leaving for the chance to work with Dark, does that pass the stiff test as a reasonable rationale? It depends on whom you would ask; any Nebraska-Omaha fan who knows much about the Knights' ability to woe players away from the NCAA is going to scoff hard. But it's a thing, at least.
Stolarz will get to work with veteran goalie coach Bill Dark who is in his 4th year with team. Won Mem Cup w Windsor and CIS nat'l w UWO.
— Eli Rassi (@EliRassi) January 7, 2013
Stolarz had appeared in eight games with a 2.56 average and .898 save percentage in the WCHA with Nebraska-Omaha. It stands to reason that his arrival would have to bump out one current Knights goalie. Overage Kevin Bailie and 18-year-old Jake Patterson were each in goal for 12 victories during London's recent near-record 24-game streak.
In any event, once signed, sealed and delivered, the 18-year-old Stolarz will arrive in London heavily hyped. The move obviously won't do much to increase the Knights' popularity in hockey circles, be it NCAA or CHL. It's the rich getting richer, just like London did by adding defenceman Dakota Mermis from the Denver Pioneers last week.
It never looks right when a player bolts from college mid-season, but it is Stolarz's prerogative to go to the best place to develop, although 3-4 seasons in the NCAA might have given the Flyers more time to evaluate him. But hey, ends justify the means when London GM Mark Hunter and coach Dale Hunter are eyeing a Memorial Cup run.
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.