Dan Blackburn

Prospect Watch: Dan Blackburn

by Denis Savage

With the 10th pick in the 2001 draft the New York Rangers select Daniel Blackburn from the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. The stage has been set for the potential goalie of the future. Scouts have had him listed as either the #1 or #2 goalie prospect to come out in the 2001 draft rating him neck and neck with Pascal Leclaire who went to Columbus a few picks earlier. With the number of teams in the hunt for a future goaltender it was a dream come true for him to land in the Rangers lap at #10. 

Will Blackburn be the next franchise goalie?

Will he live up to the expectations? That is a tough question to answer. Only recently has it been normal for a goalie to go as high in the draft as Blackburn/Leclaire. Does that mean he is a sure fired NHLer, one never knows. What we do know is Dan is a high character young man who prides himself on his work ethic, focus, and winning attitude. Hailing originally from Canmore, Alberta he has smoothly made the transition into a star with Kootenay after being selected in the Bantam draft by the Ice 3rd overall in 1998. Donning #1, Blackburn led the Ice and was named MVP of their team while leading them to the Memorial Cup in his rookie season there. 

Having 2 years of full-time goaltending in the WHL has advanced his skills. Posting consecutive 30 win seasons and having a save percentage above .907 in both has made his quest to reach the NHL legitimate. Blackburn has been linked with Curtis Joseph in terms of style of play. He is adept at cutting down angles of opponents by playing towards the top of the crease and not letting himself get out of position. With quick reflexes he possesses an above average glove hand and is aided by great lateral movement. 

Blackburn has become a master of mental toughness and become a “big game” goalie that thrives in the spotlight as seen by his accomplishments thus far. Daniel also understands that the competition will only get better and he must continue to improve. 

His solid all around game needs some refining in the area of stickhandling and skating, especially with the nets having moved further out from the end boards, though he has been known to make the safe play which by all accounts is the right decision (ask Patrick Roy). 

Heading into his first training camp fully expecting to make the Rangers this year is Blackburn (you just have to love his attitude of confidence while maintaining his humbleness). While that would in fact be a grand accomplishment Daniel knows in the back of his mind that he is probably headed back to the WHL for his final year of eligibility there. 

As a young netminder (who often take more time to develop) he will not be rushed into the limelight. Besides, with the addition of Blackburn other goalies in the Ranger system already feel the heat of his arrival and are working hard this off-season to better their chances to stick with the big club. Knowing right now there is an open spot for a goaltender at the NHL level competition is sure to be hot.. 

He may get a chance in 2002 in a backup role provided management thinks they can get him enough work, which will still be key to his development at this young age. Daniel Blackburn can more likely expect to be backstopping for the New York Rangers in 2003 after finishing out his junior eligibility.

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