Saturday, August 23, 2008

Prospect Watch 2008: Anton "Dimples" Khudobin sez:

Anton Khudobin -- A native of Kazakhstan, the 22-year-old is coming off a tremendous season at the minor-league level. Khudobin was masterful with the ECHL's Texas Wildcatters, going 20-1-4 with a 1.98 GAA and .934 save percentage. His play earned him a promotion to Houston, where he posted a 1.99 GAA and .911 save percentage in 12 appearances.

While the Wild are basically set between the pipes with Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, Khudobin can solidify a spot in Houston with a strong camp.

"I'm anxious to see him at summer camp," Thompson said. "He played OK when we brought him up to Houston, too. He had a tough start last year, but once he found his game again, he was pretty good. We want to see him at our summer camp and see if we can keep him going in the right direction. He's a fiery competitor."
Ms. Conduct sez:
Are you crackers, Brian Compton? No effing way Anton beats out Schaefer or Brusty this year. And he wasn't ever promoted to Houston. It was a call-up. He went back to the Catters once Schaefer recovered from his injury.

Now this makes it sound like I don't like Dimples, but nothing could be further from the truth. I adore the kid! But let's be realistic here. We have four NHL-experienced goalies ahead of him in the pipeline, which means unless there's a trade involving one of the top 4 goalies in the organization, Anton's back in the ECHL this season. Tom Lynn said as much recently:
We hope to add another goalie by end of training camp. The Aeros will generally carry 2 healthy goalies, as will the Wild. Any injury to one of those four goaltenders means our “third goalie” (or the #5 goalie for the Wild) will b e called up on to play. If there is a further injury or call-up, then we would like to have another good young AA goalie waiting in the wings.
Maybe I'm a little bit defensive on this point because I'm so irrationally high on Brusty. He's the new cat's pajamas. So, ya know, don't be throwing any little Kazakhstani kids into my Brusty soup, baby.

Seriously though, Anton is a good young goalie and was definitely a gem in the rough for the Wild, who drafted him in the 7th round in 2004. Kinda small (AKA Legace-sized!) but very eager, very professional, and incredibly happy-go-lucky, so the baggage of a bad game doesn't stick around for long. Of course, it takes most goalies a while to have enough experience under their belts to progress even once they are technically sound, and that's where Dimples is right now. He played 30 games last season (not including ones where he relieved the starting goalie), so he really just needs playing time, and he should get plenty of that in the ECHL this year. Bob Mason agrees.

Here's a little more color on Dimples. Note the expectation of playing in Houston this season... Sorry, kid.

Of course, the very best thing about Anton is that you could, without a doubt, do shots out of those dimples of his. And maybe I have him pegged wrong, but I'm betting he'd let you. Smile, Dimples!


Life_As_A_Redhead  August 23, 2008 at 3:34 PM  

I don't care if he's good (which he is). I don't care who he plays for. As long as he smiles a lot, I'll be stupidly happy. I'm such a sucker for dimples.

Ms. Conduct  August 23, 2008 at 11:00 PM  

I know! Those pictures are from when he was awarded #1 star of the game during his Aeros call-up. In fact, I think that was his shut-out game. It was just a great minor league moment. He's impossibly adorable.

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