Madsen's Potential a Bright Spot for the Future

Flyers fans know the same old story. By now, they are sick of it.

Goaltending ever since 1998 has been a nightmare. The revolving door includes John Vanbiesbrouck, Jeff Hackett, Roman Cechmanek, Brian Boucher (quite a few times), Robert Esche, Antero Niittymaki, Michael Leighton, Ilya Bryzgalov, and many, many more.

Merrick Madsen, drafted 162nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the sixth round, will look to put a stop to the carousel that has ruined careers at that position in this city. He had his chance to impress at the Flyers Development Camp a few weeks ago.

This season, Madsen will play for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) before moving on to play for the prestigious Harvard Crimson for the 2014-15 season. Madsen was drafted from Proctor Academy in New Hampshire, posting a career 3.60 GAA and a .889 save percentage.

Those numbers tell the wrong story, however.

His numbers improved greatly from year one to year two with the Hornets, and that is what makes Madsen such an interesting specimen. His goals against dropped from an even 4 to 3.20, and his save percentage jumped from .870 in year one to .908 in year two.

He showcased fantastic footwork as a 6'4", 177 lb high school product at the prospect camp. During a two-on-one drill, he stopped Nick Cousins with three dynamite, athletic saves in succession.

Perhaps a glimpse into what makes this kid special? Time will tell. Madsen will need plenty of organizational patience to succeed.

The best part is he's only 17 years of age.

According to his coach Mike Walsh in a piece written by Jeff Cox of SB Nation, Madsen's teammates could not score on him in practice, forcing Walsh to redesign drills. His strengths include his athleticism, and he will continue to work on high shots.

Historically speaking, many quality NHL goaltenders are later round picks. That list includes Henrik Lundqvist (7th round), Evgeni Nabokov (9th round), Sergei Bobrovsky (undrafted), Ryan Miller (5th round), Pekka Rinne (8th round) and Antti Niemi (undrafted). There is hope for young Madsen to make a difference at the highest level. 

The Flyers will go with Steve Mason and Ray Emery between the pipes this season. 

Perhaps that mix will include Cal Heeter and Anthony Stolarz in the near future, but just keep an eye on Merrick Madsen in a few years. He might surprise you.

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Follow Jordan Kuhns (@playsbykuhns) and the site (@TCLFlyers) on Twitter. Questions? Send him an email at jordan@thecheckingline.com.

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