directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Battle of the West: Leclaire vs. Norrena

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, September 3, 2007

Battle of the West: Leclaire vs. Norrena takes a look at the West and the battles that are expected in training camp. The battle they point to for the Jackets involves the goaltending - here is how they break it down:

"The Jackets head back to training camp with a pair of questionable goaltenders. Pascal Leclaire is still looking to show fans why he was drafted in the first round, while Fredrik Norrena is coming off a surprisingly solid season. After a knee injury sidelined Leclaire for much of last year, the 32-year-old Norrena stepped in to record a 24-23 record, with a better goals-against average, and a better save percentage. Still, Leclaire remains the goalie of the future, and management would love to see the 24-year-old step up this season. The Blue Jackets will allow each netminder to earn his spot in training camp, and we're betting on Leclaire to edge out the veteran. Reports say that he is healthy now, but fantasy owners should remain sceptical. If you take one of these goalies as your backup, you should keep a constant eye on the other."

So Norrena vs. Leclaire - lets take a deeper look at both goalenders shall we:

Fedrik Norrena
Age: 32
Acquired: Part of trade for Marc Denis that brought he and Fredik Modin to Columbus
Contract status: signed for 2 more years then a UFA
'07 stats: Record 24-23; GAA 2.78; SV% .904


Freddy Norrena was an NHL unknown and what some considered a "throw in" in the Marc Denis deal. He had never played in the NHL until last season - an overaged rookie so-to-speak. Little did CBJ fans know how valued this throw in would become. After a slow start which was mostly attributed to the time spent adjusting to the smaller rink, North American style game, and the North American way of life Norrena really came on - especially the second half of the season. While Norrena struggled in back to back games due to mostly to inexperience with the NHL workload, he did become the first goaltender in Columbus Blue Jackets history to post a record an above .500 and was rewarded with a two year contract extension. With a year of NHL experience under his belt look for Freddy No (as some fans refer to him) to build upon his solid numbers last year and challenge Pascal Leclaire for the #1 goaltending position.

Pascal Leclaire
Age: 25
Contract Status: Signed through this season and then will be an RFA
Acquired: Drafted 8th overall by Columbus in 2002 NHL Entry Draft
'07 stats: Record 6-15; GAA 2.97; SV% .897


There is no denying Pascal Leclaire has the pure talent to be an above average goaltender in this league - perhaps even all star caliber goaltender. Unfortunately for Pascal and CBJ fans, he has yet to show he has the durability to go along with the ability. Leclaire only played in 22 games last year and was left alone on his own island on many of those nights doing his best last man standing impersonation as the team in front of him struggled to play team defense and give him any kind of goal support to work with. This is a big year for Leclaire, one in which he will have legitimate competition for ownership of the Nationwide pipes from 32 year old Fredrik Norrena. He must prove to GM Scott Howson and Coach Ken Hitchcock that he is the present and future in goal -- for that he must prove that he can stay healthy.

LTL prediction:
I think our goaltending is in better shape then what Rotoworld aludes to in their article. I believe Hitch platoons the goalie position for the first quarter of the year and then rides the best performer for the remainder of the season. That goaltender will be Fredrik Norrena and he'll open even more eyes around the NHL this season.

There will be some other battles that we'll need to keep our eyes on as well - especially at the center postion. Fedorov is a lock for the top 6. Peca will slot anywhere from the 3rd line hole to the 1st line hole -- the question is will anyone step up and make a case for that other center position in the top 6 as Peca's game is geared more for a 3rd line shut down center role --- there is a long list of potentials:


LTL Prediction:
Brule comes to camp a year older, in better condition, and with a chip on his shoulder to claim his spot in the top 6.

Should be fun to watch how both battles unfold.


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