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Should the Arizona Coyotes make Louis Domingue their backup goaltender?

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The Arizona Coyotes turned to Louis Domingue after Devan Dubnyk departed. Is he on track to become the team's backup goaltender next season?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes under Dave Tippett have never played the backup goaltender much; Mike Smith and Ilya Bryzgalov never played fewer than 62 games in a full season. But with Smith's incredibly rough season in 2014-15, the need to find a serviceable backup is all the more crucial.

That's where Louis Domingue comes in.

After Devan Dubnyk was traded to the Minnesota Wild in mid-January, the Coyotes gave their 23 year old prospect a chance to play against some of the world's best hockey players.

With no definite backup netminder and two highly touted prospects in the system (Domingue and Mark Visentin) looking to take the next step, how did Domingue's numbers compare to some of the other goalies around the NHL that made their debuts last season?

Rookie Comparables

Seven goaltenders played more than 200 minutes last year for their parent clubs, which meant they appeared in at least five games. While the number of games played varied from goalie to goalie, let's see how they fared:

2014-15 Rookie Goaltenders, Greater than 200 Minutes Played at 5v5
Name Team Games Played 5v5 SV% Shots/60 Faced Minutes Played
Scott Darling

Chicago

14 94.80 29.47 665.8
Louis Domingue Arizona 7 91.38 27.52 252.9
Anton Forsberg Columbus 5 88.39 33.50 200.6
Andrew Hammond Ottawa 24 94.06 30.36 1109.9
Calvin Pickard Colorado 16 95.00 34.46 696.5
Antti Raanta Chicago 14 94.21 28.29 659.5
Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay 16 92.75 28.03 708.6

The Bad News

Initial impressions are not all that positive for Domingue. The Coyotes' goalie is over a full percentage point behind Tampa Bay's Vasilevskiy (the next closest) in save percentage at 5v5. Because power play time and penalty kill time skew heavily for and against a goaltender's save percentage, looking at even-strength tends to be more representative of a goaltender's productivity that season.

His lower save percentage numbers come despite the fact that Domingue saw the fewest shots per 60 minutes of action among all of the goalies in the sample. So despite seeing fewer shots at 5v5 on a regular basis, Domingue was in general stopping fewer shots for the amount of time he played.

The Good News

There are a few words of caution before drawing definite conclusions. Domingue played less than half of the games most of the goalies in the sample did last year, and roughly a third as many minutes as the next closest (Raanta).

Smaller sample sizes tend to be less precise than larger ones because each goal and shot against has a stronger impact on the goalie's overall statistics. So a bad night for a goalie like Domingue or Anton Forsberg will pull his numbers down more than a bad night from Andrew Hammond or Scott Darling.

Of course, the same logic applies for a great night. Yet Domingue only allowed more than three goals in one appearance on the year (March 19th versus Colorado), and only allowed no goals in one appearance (February 28th versus Boston). So Domingue's highs and lows largely offset each other last year.

Final Thoughts

Louis Domingue had flashes of brilliance and flashes of mediocrity last season. At a bare minimum, his stint with the parent club should earn him an extended look at training camp in the battle for the #2 job. But given the small sample size and the relatively unimpressive numbers, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Coyotes sign a veteran backup on the free agent market this summer.