Friend of B2011DW Nathan Fournier, who runs The World of Junior Hockey blog, sent me some stats on Lewiston Maine-iacs goaltender Andrei Makarov this weekend, prompting me to get off my dead arse and get a writeup on the talented Russian who struggled early, but has come on of late.
Makarov didn't even make the top-33 in Central Scouting's North American goalie rankings at mid-season, which really underscores the struggles he had adjusting to the play in the QMJHL/North America after coming over amidst such high expectations. But, he's really turned things around, earning Q Goalie of the Week honors a few weeks back.
Fournier provided the following stats on Makarov since Central's rankings came out: 5-4 with 2.78 GAA and .918 save percentage. He's been getting in more important games of late, and played well in the loss to Montreal last Thursday, according to Fournier.
Red Line Report was pretty high on Makarov before the season (47th in the August issue), but plunged him down to 195th on the February rankings. It will be interesting to see if he ends up on the rising section next month or if he starts to climb back up a bit.
At 6-1, 195, he's got the frame and athleticism to be a good one in time. But, I'm always reminded of a conversation I had with Arturs Irbe, Latvian superstar and former NHL netminder now goalie coach for the Washington Capitals, who told me that as rule, Russian goalies don't get a lot of coaching and are usually thrown into the nets to stop pucks and survive on their athleticism until they can develop a measure of technique.
Haven't seen a lot of Makarov to know whether his problems had more to do with technique, loss of confidence, culture shock or what have you- a combination of all perhaps- but he's the kind of player who could be stolen with a late pick and his image rehabbed with some development camp work and possibly a change of scenery.
In any case, Makarov is a guy you should know!