The return of Carey Price to the Montreal net has caused a ripple effect with the goalies in the Canadiens system. Charlie Lindgren was returned to the St. John’s IceCaps and will see the bulk of the work throughout the season to hopefully develop at an accelerated pace. That move, combined with the signing of veteran Yann Danis saw the Canadiens demote Zach Fucale to the Brampton Beast of the ECHL. Danis will serve as the backup in St. John’s and mentor to Lindgren.
Fucale was drafted in the second round No. 36 overall in the 2013 NHL Entry draft. It is becoming less common for NHL teams to take goaltenders in the first or second rounds of the draft in this era of pro hockey. But Fucale was among a select few who had the pedigree coming out of the QMJHL that made General Managers drool.
Fucale was drafted eleventh overall in the QMJHL Entry draft by the Halifax Mooseheads and his career took off from there, setting a record for wins (32) by a rookie goaltender. He rocketed to the No. 1 rated goaltender in the 2013 NHL draft, setting the all time record for wins by a Halifax goaltender (79) in just two seasons. That same season, he also captured the Memorial Cup on a very talented Mooseheads team. Fucale continued to amass QMJHL and international records along the way to his professional career.
Fucale completed his first season in professional hockey with the St.John’s IceCaps in 2015-16. At times, he struggled at times with the AHL club under the weight of 42 games played. His record of 16-19-4 with a goals against average of 3.13 and a .903 save percentage was unimpressive. In particular his save percentage was well below the mark deemed acceptable by hockey management.
Fucale was not alone in struggling in his first year as a pro. At 21-years-old, Fucale still has plenty of time to develop, in my opinion. He will definitely need to work on his glove hand and his rebound control in Brampton.
His demotion to the Beast should make him the number one goaltender with the club. Fucale has been the number one guy since he was 15-years-old and will now be given every opportunity to work on his skills to prove himself before resuming any kind of role at the AHL level. The bottom line is that he needs to be consistent game in and game out. At the ECHL level, he will play as many games as he can handle through this season and should resume his climb up the Canadiens depth chart.