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The future of Coyotes goaltending?

With 22 days left until preseason begins, we look at the 22-year-old goaltending prospect who played his first NHL game last season.

Christian Petersen

NHL goaltenders are typically viewed as the most important players on the ice, but they are also the most difficult to properly predict at a young age. Because they tend to crack the NHL later and take longer to develop, there are not too many that get drafted in the first round. But in 2010 the Arizona Coyotes drafted Canadian goalie Mark Visentin with the 27th overall pick.

The 2010 NHL draft is was a big one for the Coyotes. It was the first draft with Dave Tippett as the head coach and four of the team's five picks were in the first two rounds. The Coyotes first pick was used to select Brandon Gormley 13th, but with their second first round pick they went with the Niagara IceDogs' goaltender.

OHL success does not necessarily translate into NHL success, but after he was drafted, Visentin went on to have two great seasons with the IceDogs. After the 2010-11 campaign, he was named to the First All-Star Team and named OHL Goaltender of the Year. After the 2011-12 season, he shared the Dave Pinkney Trophy for lowest team goals against while playing a majority of the games.

Visentin spent the last two seasons with the Portland Pirates in the AHL, and one game in the ECHL with the Gwinnett Gladiators, splitting time with fellow Coyotes' 2010 pick Louis Domingue and Chad Johnson. Visentin sat behind Johnson in his first pro season and played in 30 games, finishing with a 15-12-1 record and recording two shutouts. Last season he played in 45 games with the Pirates and was ninth in saves despite having a poor save percentage.

With Mike Smith being sidelined with an injury at the end of last season, Visentin got recalled and for the first time and would see NHL action. He made his NHL debut in the Coyotes second to last game against the San Jose Sharks, ultimately losing the game 3-2. In that game he had a .923 even strength save percentage, and he definitely showed potential as a future NHL goaltender.

So when can fans expect to see Visentin back in the NHL? Provided Smith and Devan Dubnyk do not get hurt next season, probably not until the season after next at the earliest. Smith is signed for the next five seasons with a no trade/no moment clause in his contract, so he will likely be the Coyotes starter for the foreseeable future. But, in the next few years, Visentin may be brought in as a full time back-up or part of a tandem.