Keith Petruzzelli is a 24-year-old goaltending prospect for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He currently plays for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
What’s so interesting about this youngster is that he’s shown both potential and areas he needs to improve in his performance. In this post, I’ll look at the good and the bad and wonder if Petruzzelli can make a big jump up the organizational depth charts this season.
The Good & the Bad About Petruzzelli
The Good #1: Petruzzelli Has Height and Athleticism
Petruzzelli has good height (6-foot-5) and he can move well despite that size. These two traits have been notable aspects of his play at the AHL level.
The Bad #1: Petruzzelli Needs More Consistency
One challenge for Petruzzelli has been maintaining a consistent performance. While he’s had some strong moments in the Maple Leafs’ organization, he’s struggled to put together several strong games in a row. This inconsistency has been evident throughout both the regular season and (especially) during last season’s Calder Cup playoffs.
The Bad #2: Petruzzelli Needs to Work on His Rebound Control
One area that Petruzzelli needs to improve is his rebound control. He allows too many rebounds, particularly in high-pressure playoff situations. As a result, his opponents have scored second-chance goals.
The Good #2: Petruzzelli Is Competitive
Despite any struggles he’s had, Petruzzelli has been competitive. That’s his nature. He’s a determined young goalie. His strength is that he continues to battle and compete regardless of the challenges he faces during games.
The Good #3: Petruzzelli Has the Potential for Improvement
While acknowledging his challenges, the assessment of Petruzzelli’s potential is optimistic. He’s determined, has the necessary physical attributes, and also can compete at the AHL level (and potentially the NHL level).
With more consistent performances and improved control, he could excel.
Changes in the Organization Could Help Petruzzelli Improve
Two possible changes within the Marlies’ organization this season could help Petruzzelli improve his game. First, he should be used more regularly in the lineup. In the past, there were times when Petruzzelli was in and out of the Marlies’ lineup, which probably affected his consistency and performance.
The lack of consistent playing time might have contributed to his struggles. It would seem that this season there’s likely to be more regular work for the young goalie.
Second, Petruzzelli is set to compete with another goaltending prospect – Erik Hildeby – for playing time with the Marlies. If both prospects have strong starts to the upcoming season, they could build their value in the organization and potentially earn shots in the NHL.
The Bottom Line
While Petruzzelli has shown the qualities a good young goaltender needs, he still has areas in which he needs to improve. His biggest challenges are maintaining consistency and improving his rebound control.
If he can address these areas, he has the potential to progress through the Maple Leafs organization and earn a spot in the NHL.