The Arizona Coyotes recently announced that they signed Minnesota-Duluth’s starting goaltender, Hunter Miska. Miska is a native of Minnesota and was a freshman who led the Bulldogs on a playoff run that had them in the Frozen Four, but fell to unstoppable Denver in the National Championship Game.
Miska had a record of 27-5-5 in 39 games with the Bulldogs. Compared to other NCAA goaltenders he was 4th in GAA (2.20), 15th in SV% (.920), 4th in shutouts (5) and even got two assists. At the young age of 21, he’s already established, accomplished, and he’s ready to move on.
And where he moves on could be Tucson.
The Coyotes’ two current goaltenders on the roster are Mike Smith and Louis Domingue, signed through the 2018-19 and 2017-18 seasons respectively. That being said, neither of these goalies are going anywhere. While only one can be protected in the upcoming NHL expansion draft, it’s highly unlikely either would be taken given the plethora of skilled goaltenders that will be on the market. So while Miska signed with the Coyotes, he won’t be seeing any time with them for a long time. Once one of them leaves, Adin Hill will be first up if he continues to improve and perform like he did at the beginning of the Roadrunners’ 2016-17 season.
So that leaves either Rapid City or Tucson for Miska, and the choice is completely up in the air.
I am suspecting that Miska will spend most of his time with Rapid City in the ECHL, and this is just for the sake of playing time. It is likely that it would be difficult for him to see much time in Tucson anyways. He won’t be taking the starting job away from Hill and it would be unlikely to take the backup job away from Marek Langhamer if he is re-signed.
But don’t be down Tucson fans, Miska will more than likely have a nice stint of AHL time. After all, the three goaltenders that saw time with Tucson last season also spent time in the ECHL. No decision is final. Miska is a brilliant goaltender and fans should keep their eyes on him for the time he does spend in Tucson.
Given that Miska played in the NCAA (and the USHL) as opposed to the OHL (or any other league under the CHL umbrella), his numbers will easily transfer into the pro game. I’m not knocking the OHL but their leading scorer averaged over two points a game and in the NCAA the leading scorer averaged just over half a point at 0.6. College hockey is much more defense oriented than any league under the CHL is. I believe the NCAA is one of the best leagues to prepare players for professional hockey, and that will reflect in Miska’s play and development in years to come.
So whether he plays three, thirteen, or thirty games next season with the Roadrunners, it’ll be important to pay attention to him. The Arizona Coyotes are in desperate need of goaltending and they might just have a star goaltender in their system.