Goalies are a curious creature. These men of pillowed-pad and painty-mask, are often sought after for their humungous big personality quirks and their just plain batty desire to stand in front of a slapshot, are a rare breed we find smattered about the NHL. Which only serves them as a more recognizable figure on the ice.
Which it why we should find it important ladies and gentlemen, to know your goalies as fans of a NHL team. Empires rise and fall when these guys sneeze out there, and so it serves you well to know just what makes them tick. Today, as part of the Hockey Wilderness Top 25 Under 25 series, we’re going to get to know one of these elusive creatures. Today, we learn about Stephen Michalek
1 - Michalek is tall. Well, he’s not, scare your children tall or anything like that. He’s 6’3”, which if you look at how NHL goalies are trending, might actually be on the undersized portion of the scale these days.
2 - He’s young. At just 23 years old, Michalek is a figurative baby in terms of NHL goalies. Plenty of time for him to continue learning the game.
3 - He went to Harvard. Did you go to Harvard? I didn’t think so.
4 - In the 2012-13 season, Michalek took a break from the college game to play for the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. What? I said it went to Harvard, not that he was a great student.
5 - Stephen Michalek’s birthday is August 6th, 1993. Somebody out there is bound to share a birthday with this guy, and good for you! Other notable August 6th birthdays: Lucille Ball, Andy Warhol, and M. Night Shyamalanydingdong.
6 - He once made 63 saves in a single game for Harvard, against Jack Eichel and BU.
7 - He has stats
8 - He’s a 6th round product of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 161st overall selection. A young goalie not named Kuemper we haven’t traded away. (yet)
9 - In his 2014-15 senior season at Harvard, Michalek went 21-13-3 with a 2.28 GAA and .924 Sv% and playing in all 37 games for his team that season.
10 - In a game in February 2015, he stopped 63 shots for Harvand, and lost for his efforts.
11 - He got his first taste of the NHL in a callup in March, 2016. He sat on the bench better than anyone has ever sat before!
12 - Even before his getting peppered with just under 70 shots in a college game, Michalek was no stranger to increased work loads. In his last 2 years of high school, he played in 45 games with a record of 5-37-2, a 4.60 GAA, and a .903 Sv%. Despite the poor record, he was still considered one of the best goalies in his league.
13 - In his first pro season (2015-16), Michalek played in 24 games for the ECHL Quad-City Mallards, 14 games for the Iowa Wild, and has been in the building for several Minnesota Wild games.
15 - Michalek hasn’t seemed to have taken a step back despite going pro this year. His goals against average and save percentages between the ECHL and AHL are just a little under his career numbers with Harvard.
16 - At the 2010 Ivan Hlinka U18 Tournament in Slovakia, Michalek skated for Team USA. He backstopped 3 games in the tournament including the championship game against Canada where he stopped 23 of 24 shots in a 1-0 loss.
17 - For you face puncher fans, he has gotten involved in a goalie fight.
18 - This upcoming season will be Michalek’s 2nd season on a 2 year deal worth $1.375 million. He will be a RFA next summer.
19 - Michalek will have competition for a starting job in Iowa. With Kappo Kahkonen vying for a job as well as veteran Alex Stalock. Competition will be good for everyone, but it might also leave someone on the trading block.
20 - Michalek uses his size well. He has the ability to carry a team if needed and doesn’t waste energy with unnecessary movements.
21 - He plays in the Minnesota Wild organization! That should be all you really need to know in the first place!
Stephen Michalek has had some adversity in his college days. Once that was behind him though he took charge of his game and has improved his craft at every level. There’s a reason he’s gone up a couple spots from last year and finds himself ahead of Kahkonen in our list, and that’s built off the reputation he’s built through improvements in his game. He’s not ready for prime time yet, and with Stalock in the mix now he’s probably not your first call up choice in case of injury or illness, but he hasn’t shown any signs yet that he’s going to quit learning and improving his game.