June 18, 2011 Leave a comment
After growing up in Finland, goaltender Christopher Gibson made the jump to the Quebec Major Junior League, joining the Chicoutimi Sagueneens for the 2009-10 season. Similar to top-ranked goaltender John Gibson (no relation), Christopher had a sub-par year in his rookie season, but bounced back this year. The Finn had a .920 save percentage and a 2.42 goals against average on a mediocre team.
“The top two guys have a very similar style…there’s not much separation other than consistency,” Al Jensen, Central Scouting’s top goalie scout, told NHL.com. “I think John has maybe been a little more consistent in his game over the course of the year. But it’s a very fine line between these two. I have no problems saying they are quality goalies, and as I followed them, it just solidified my thinking of how good they really are.”
“He’s got that look about him in the net,” Jensen said. “When you see him, you say to yourself this kid really does look like a goalie. He has great balance and spreads out very well. He’s got the make-up to be a pro goalie, the strength and knowledge that you need. He’s got quick feet, but what really sticks out in my mind is his positioning, the way he covers the net. I really like the way he battles in there, too.”
The 6-foot, 193-pound goaltender his very strong and has great positioning. His raw skill is arguably the best in the draft (among goaltenders), while his athleticism further contributes to his attractiveness. However, he still needs to improve a bit on his anticipation and reading of each play. His size must improve as well, of course. But there’s an tangible that scouts love in Gibson.
“He’s a very confident goalie, has an air of confidence about him,” Al Jensen, NHL Central Scouting’s goaltender scout, told NHL.com. “He’s got very good net coverage, has good size and is very strong in his crease. He plays determined and aggressive, his movements are controlled, he tracks the puck very well and he challenges properly and holds his ground. He battled hard in all areas. He has a good, solid butterfly, was quick at gathering in any loose pucks and has good overall quickness.”
Even his goaltending coach, former NHL goalie Marc Denis, loves the way he plays.
“He won with Notre Dame, which helped him. That’s experience you can’t buy anywhere else,” Denis told NHL.com. “We helped his game on the ice, helped him with a few technical points here and there. Going to a 70-game schedule, going to the North American style of coaching, or how goalies evolve in the team concept and how that’s dealt with on a day-to-day basis to see if the team is going to be competitive at all.
“That was his first year with a sub-.500 record, so he had to learn to deal with that and see the light at the end of the tunnel and not get discouraged by an outing he wasn’t pleased with or get too high over an outing he was proud of. That’s where we had to spend the most time with him. The way he came into the playoffs showed how much was able to learn the lessons throughout the season.”
Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.