The Dallas Stars are widely known throughout the league for their exceptional goaltending tandem that is Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin.
While Bishop is technically the starter for the Stars, Khudobin has seen his fair share of games this season, starting for 30 of them. With Ben Bishop unfit to play for the majority of the first-round series against the Calgary Flames, Khudobin has gotten the nod, with a young Jake Oettinger on the bench as his back up.
Many Stars fans likely feel nervous with a young goalie who hasn’t played in any NHL games sitting behind the team’s backup goalie in playoffs, especially given how the Stars tend to rely on their goaltenders to keep them afloat.
Here’s what Stars fans need to know about Oettinger and why they shouldn’t necessarily worry about him being on the bench this postseason.
Jake Oettinger is a 21-year-old goaltender from Lakeville, Minnesota. He currently plays for the Texas Stars, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars. He’s been an active goalie, playing in the USHL from 2014-2016, before moving on to play college hockey at Boston University from 2016-2019. During his time as netminder for Boston University, he averaged a .922 SV% over 109 total games played.
Oettinger was regarded as the number one goalie prospect for the 2017 NHL draft, with scouts impressed by his mental game, stick handling, and presence in the crease. He was known among coaches as a calm player, someone who is almost impossible to rattle and ready to handle any given situation during games.
He represented the United States five times at the IIHF World Juniors, helping the team earn a gold medal in 2015 and 2017, as well as a bronze in 2016 and 2018.
All eyes were on who was going to select Oettinger in the upcoming draft. The Dallas Stars at the time were facing frustrations with their goaltenders, Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. With both goalies seemingly in a slump, it was clear to general manager Jim Nill that Dallas needed to invest in the future with a goaltender prospect.
Nill traded the Stars 29th and 70th overall picks to the Chicago Blackhawks, securing the 26th overall pick for themselves in return. This pick, dubbed as a franchise history-making move, enabled the Stars to select Jake Oettinger in the 2017 NHL Draft.
He went on to sign a three-year, entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars on March 25, 2019, sending him to the Texas Stars for the remainder of the 2018-2019 season.
Oettinger, who is sometimes referred to among Texas Stars fans as a “mini Ben Bishop” has been developing the last two seasons in Cedar Park, starting in 38 games with a 0.917 SV%.
Watching his highlight reel from the 2019-2020 season will probably have many Dallas fans impressed.
He is incredibly quick on his feet and has a strong eye for tracking the puck, many of his highlights include sensational glove saves.
Elite goalies tend to be older, getting better with age and experience in the NHL, but Oettinger has shown in just two seasons in the AHL signs that he is going to have a prosperous and successful career.
Despite this, there is a difference in the speed of the AHL and the NHL, so the thought of Oettinger making his NHL debut in a playoff series is worrisome. But, Stars fans shouldn’t sound the alarm just yet.
With Khudobin playing consistently, and Bishop hopefully to return soon there may be no need for Oettinger to make his debut quite yet.
Even if the worst-case scenario happened and he had to play, there is reason to believe he would do fine.
Featured Image: Mollie Kendall