- Gare Joyce
This article appears in the June 28 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
The 2008 NHL entry draft was held just a few weeks after goalie Dustin Tokarski was named MVP at the Memorial Cup, Canada's major-junior hockey championship tournament. Tokarski stopped 53 shots in the Spokane Chiefs' 4-1 title victory over Kitchener of the Ontario league, and his .953 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average were staggering. But instead of attending the NHL draft in Ottawa, Tokarski stayed home in Watson, Saskatchewan. Why? Because goaltending is about anticipation, and Tokarski's instincts told him that a lot of goaltenders would be selected ahead of him, even though he had outplayed them all.
"Scouts thought I was too small," says the 5'11'' Tokarski. "I didn't get drafted into the Western league, either, which is why I played juniors. Same thing -- too small." But Tokarski started more games in the playoffs that spring than Jason Missiaen did all year. Missiaen was a backup goaltender with Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League. His numbers were mediocre: 3.28 goals-against and a .911 save percentage in 22 games. He was ranked No. 20 on NHL Central Scouting's list of eligible North American goaltenders. Missiaen, though, did travel to Ottawa for the draft because he knew what was coming. Scouts from the Montreal Canadiens had said they were going to take him. They did, in the fourth round, and when Missiaen put on his Canadiens sweater, it reached down only to his waist. Sweaters, even 4XL ones, aren't designed for a 6'8" frame.
13dScott Burnside and Craig Custance