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Behind The Bench: Steve Mason

by on 09/23/2011

Vitals

Born: Oakville, ON, CAN
Birth date: May 29, 1988
Height: 6’3” (190 cm)
Weight: 187 lbs (85 kg)
Position: Goaltender
Catches: Right
NHL Draft: 69th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006
NHL Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Jersey No.: #1
National Team: Canada
NHL Contract: 12/13
Cap Hit: $2,900,000

History

Despite only playing 16 games during the 2005-06 season in the OHL, Mason was selected 69th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Mason spent the next 2 seasons in the OHL before signing an entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets and playing pro. In three OHL seasons, Mason played 116 games, finishing with a record of 82-23-3, with 5 shootout loses and 5 SO’s. Mason had a 2.675 GAA and a .919 Sv%. Mason started his final OHL season with the London Knights, a team he spent his entire OHL career with, until he was traded to the Kitchener Rangers hours before he started in the semi-final game at the U20 WJC for Team Canada. Despite the news of his trade, Mason backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal. When he returned to the OHL, Mason helped the Rangers get into the OHL playoffs and defeat the Plymouth Whalers in the first round. After the first round, Mason had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery and missed the rest of the playoffs as the Rangers won the OHL championship without him.

Mason underwent a second knee surgery before the start of his professional career and missed the first month of the season. After recovering and joining the Syracuse Crunch, Mason was recalled by the Blue Jackets to replace injured netminder, Pascal Leclaire. Mason was such a dominate force for the Blue Jackets that he continued to start games even after Pascal Leclaire returned from injury. Mason played 61 games during the 2008-09 season and posted a 33-20-7 record with 10 SO’s, a 2.29 GAA and .916 Sv%. His outstanding season helped the Blue Jackets make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Blue Jackets were swept in 4 games vs. the Detroit Red Wings. Mason was nominated for both the Vezina and Calder Trophies, winning the latter, as the Rookie of the Year.

In the 2009-10 season, Mason suffered perhaps the worst sophomore jinx in hockey history. After sporting a stellar 33-20-7 record with 10 SO’s and a 2.29 GAA and .916 Sv% in 2008-09, he posted a 20-26-9 record with 5 SO’s and a 3.05 GAA and .901 Sv%. The Blue Jackets finished the 2009-10 season 14th in the West and failed to make the playoffs.

Blue Jackets fans and Mason both hoped for a bounce back year in 2010-2011 but that didn’t happen. Mason continued to struggle, posting a 24-21-7 record with 3 SO, a 3.03 GAA and .901 Sv%. Mason lost his focus, poise and confidence throughout the season and no matter what he tried, he came up short.

Talent Analysis

Pros

  • Good size
  • Positionally sound
  • Good hockey sense
  • Good lateral mobility
  • Plays the puck well
  • Mature beyond his years

Cons

  • Lacks consistency
  • Has occasional lapses in focus during games
  • Does not yet understand how to mentally prepare for the start of a game, periods, etc
  • Struggles with self-confidence
  • Does not always focus on “the first save”
  • Lacks motivation

Future

Despite the cons listed above, Mason is on the cusp of becoming an elite goaltender. He just needs a little guidance and an even smaller amount of luck. Hopefully new goaltender coach, Ian Clark, will be able to give him a bit of both.

Mason will be entering his fourth NHL season. While I don’t believe he will recapture his rookie form this season, I do think he will make strides towards it. Mason will start 55 games next year and should be able to help the team with 30 wins.

Mason should recapture his rookie form in the 2012-13 season and will become an elite goaltender and prove Columbus right for waiting on him to turn his career around.

NHL Highlights

  • Drafted 69th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
  • 1st NHL Game – November 5th, 2008 vs. Edmonton Oilers (5-4 W)
  • 1st NHL Win – November 5th, 2008 vs. Edmonton Oilers (5-4 W)
  • 1st NHL Lost – November 12th, 2008 vs. Phoenix Coyotes (2-5 L)
  • 1st NHL OT Lost – November 15th, 2008 vs. Minnesota Wild (2-3 OTL)
  • 1st NHL Shutout – November 22nd, 2008 vs. Atlanta Thrashers (2-0 W)
  • 1st NHL Playoff Game – April 16th, 2009 vs. Detroit Red Wings (1-4 L)
  • 1st NHL Playoff Lost – April 16th, 2009 vs. Detroit Red Wings (1-4 L)
  • 2008-09 Calder Trophy Winner

Career Highlights

  • 2006-07 OHL First All-Star Team
  • 2006-07 OHL Goaltender of the Year
  • 2007-08 OHL Champion
  • 2007-08 OHL Second All-Star Team
  • 2007-08 U20 WJC All-Star Team
  • 2007-08 U20 WJC Best GAA (1.19)
  • 2007-08 U20 WJC Best Goaltender
  • 2007-08 U20 WJC Best Sv% (.951)
  • 2007-08 U20 WJC Gold Medal
  • 2007-08 U20 WJC Most Valuable Player
  • 2007-08 U20 WJC Top 3 Player on Team Canada
  • 2008-09 NHL All-Rookie Team
  • 2008-09 Vezina Trophy Nominee
  • 2008-09 Calder Trophy Winner
  • 2008-09 NHL Second All-Star Team

Career Stats

AHL: 3 GP, 2 W, 1 L, 0 SO, 1.63 GAA, .937 Sv%
Memorial Cup:
0 GP
NHL:
173 GP, 77 W, 67 L, 23 OTL, 18 SO, 2.77 GAA, .906 Sv%
NHL Playoffs:
4 GP, 0 W, 4 L, 0 SO, 4.27 GAA, .878 Sv%
OHL:
116 GP, 82 W, 23 L, 2 OTL, 5 SO, 2.90 GAA, .916 Sv%
OHL Playoffs:
25 GP, 14 W, 7 L, 1 OTL, 1 SO, 2.73 GAA, .922 Sv%
WJC-20: 5 GP, 5 W, 0 L, 1 SO, 1.18 GAA, .951 Sv%

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