Conversation with Scott Wedgewood
First Devils goalie drafted since 2005 talks about hopes for the future
|Scott Wedgewood (Photo credit: Walt Dmoch, Plymouth Whalers)|
The Devils selected Wedgewood, who turns 18 on Aug. 14, with their third-round pick, 84th overall, at last weekend's Entry Draft in Los Angeles.
"He's essentially a bit of a revelation this year in that he played behind an All-Star level goalie, but when he did play there at the end, he really carried the ball well for a team that lost out to Windsor in the playoffs," said David Conte, the Devils' Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Scouting. "He had one spectacular 70-save game. I think he's just beginning to scratch the surface of the potential we think he has."
The native of Brampton, Ontario, became the first goaltender drafted by the Devils since Jeff Frazee (2nd/38th overall) in 2005. That speaks highly for the 6-1, 190-lb. netminder, who will return to Plymouth (OHL) for his third season with the Whalers this fall. He posted a 5-9-0 record with a 3.26 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and one shutout in 18 appearances in 2009-10. Overall, Wedgewood is 5-11-0 with a 3.45 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in 24 games with Plymouth.
The Devils added Gatineau (QMJHL) goalie Maxime Clermont with their sixth-round pick, 174th overall, marking the first Draft since 1997 in which New Jersey selected two netminders (J.F. Damphousse 1/24; Scott Clemmensen 8/215).
What was your first reaction to being drafted on Saturday?
Wedgewood: Actually, I had left my house about midway through the third round. I had a family reunion to go to, so we were about 20 minutes down the road, not even, and I texted one of the staff members on the Whalers that was actually in L.A., and I said, 'Let me know when [Plymouth defenseman] Austin Levi goes in the Draft. Tell him good luck, and wish the best for him.' I texted her that and she sent me back, 'You just went.' I texted her back, 'Ha ha, you're funny.' I wasn't expecting that at all, and she said, 'No, seriously, you just went.' Then Levi, texted me saying, 'Congratulations,' then [Bruins' second overall pick and Plymouth teammate] Tyler Seguin texted me. My agent called and I got the shivers thinking, 'Wow, is this for real?' I was really excited. I was in the car with my family and we were definitely happy – screaming a little bit. Definitely was very pleased and excited. I was a little more shocked because I wasn't rated that high, but I feel honored to be a part of the Devils, for sure.
Levi went to Carolina with the very next pick, 85th overall.
Would you have attended the Draft if not for the family reunion?
I had a talk with my agent, and we just kind of decided nothing's for certain. I wasn't sure if I was going to get drafted at all, or if I was going to go in the top four rounds, top three rounds. It was a lot of money to ask my parents to spend for something that might not have happened. We decided we'd lay low and stay mellow and if it happens, it happens, if not, I still have another year. I only played 18 games this year. I think it would've been nice to be there and be able talk to them, and get the jersey, but I'm definitely still happy that I got the call.
So it was a happy day in the Wedgewood household?
For sure. My brothers and parents are all smiling ear to ear. It's a fantastic day for us.
Did you know the Devils were interested?
I had a meeting with them at the end of the Combine week, the Monday after in Toronto. They had me come out and do a little interview. I spent some time there with the scouts, had a nice little meeting. I think we meshed really well. I enjoyed that interview a lot. It's a great group of guys. They said they were interested and just wanted to get to know who I was. They said they had seen some video on me, so they were definitely in the back of my mind. I guess I left a little bit of a good impression, and it worked out well for me.
What's your impression of the organization? Obviously goaltending has been a strength here with Martin Brodeur.
Growing up, Marty was definitely my idol. You can look around my house, and I've got his Team Canada jersey from this year, his Devils jersey from I don't know how many years back. Over my bed I have a couple of his goalie figures and his plaques on the wall of him with Team Canada and with the Devils. He's definitely been a guy I've looked up to playing the game. Me and him kind of have similar stories: he was a player first, I was a player first, then we both switched to goalie. Watching him and what he's done with the game and the Devils organization, it's definitely an honor, and to meet him will be a great experience for me. To learn from a guy who's done pretty much everything in the goaltending role for an organization, so I think it's going to be a fantastic learning experience.
How do you describe your goaltending style? So much has been written about Brodeur's hybrid style.
I'm not going to say the same thing, but I don't like to just butterfly on everything and I don't like to just stand up. I'm considered a hybrid. I like to make a save in a lot of different ways, I like to play the puck and I like to read and anticipate situations. I think I have good ice awareness and can read plays before they happen. Watching Brodeur, it's been something I've picked up from him over the years, to stay calm and cool and have a strong mental game. I think there's some areas of similarity between me and him, but definitely nothing like breaking records. I see a little bit of me in him. I wasn't really a guy who went to goalie schools, I was a guy that watched and learned from other goalies. I'm more of a visual guy.
With the Devils drafting a goaltender for the first time since 2005, and two goalies in one draft for the first time since 1997, does a young goalie entering the system think that someday the No. 1 job could be his?
Just the fact that they think and definitely have, I guess, a little bit of a feel that maybe I could fill that position and role is definitely a big shoe to step into. I don't plan on doing that this year or in the coming couple of years. Marty has held that job for almost 20 years. But not having drafted a goalie in five years and being that next one is definitely something to wrap your head around. I don't think I'm looking into it as coming in there right away. I definitely still have time to develop and still could have a fair bit of time with Plymouth to develop and grow as a goalie and learn different aspects of the game that I still haven't experienced yet. I think it's going to be a fun road and I'm definitely excited to mesh in with New Jersey, meet the guys, become a part of their system. I have a teammate who's from New Jersey [defenseman Nick Malysa of Bridgewater], he says it's a great place. I'm really excited and can't wait for what's ahead of me.
What was last season like for you with the Whalers?
Last season was a learning experience. We had [goaltender] Matt Hackett drafted last year in the third round by Minnesota and touted as probably the best goalie in the OHL last year. I didn't get the playing time that I would have liked, but he taught me a lot and we learned a lot from him and goalie coach Stan Matwijiw. This year, I had opportunities; games when we played three in three nights, and I would usually get one of those. I took every game as an opportunity to let whoever was in the stands see me. I didn't think about it much. I said I've got a chance to play and that's all I'm here to do is play. I love the game and every time I step in there, I just wanted to win for the team and keep playing. I went in there as a backup goalie and when you do that, you have to play well or else you probably won't have a shot at the next game. I definitely think this year went really well for me. I didn't play as much as I wanted to, but I think I did well with what I had, and I think a lot of teams saw that in me. I think it worked out well.
Do you know where you stand for next season in Plymouth?
We have Matt Mahalak coming up, he played in Youngstown last year in the USHL, and he's a good goalie himself. The situation's going to be going into the year that I need to step in and take [the starting job]. It's definitely not sitting there with my name on it. I've got to work for it and prove I can handle it. If not, I'm going to have some competition with Matt – he's a good goalie. So I'm going to have to battle for my spot and battle to keep it. I like that. Healthy competition is going to be great. Me and him get along quite well, we've hung out a few times through the summer before I came home from school. He's a good kid and a good goalie, so I think we're going to have a lot of fun this year and he's definitely going to keep me on my toes. We're going to battle. He's going to push me, I'm going to push him, and it's going to be a good year. I think we have a good team, nice and young, and we're going to battle. It's going to be nice to see where we end up.
Talk about the 70-save performance in Game 4 of your playoff series against Windsor.
The 70-save game, Hackett got suspended [for an incident in Game 3]. We were down in the series 3-0 to Windsor, who won the Memorial Cup last year and ended up continuing on to win it again this year. Going into the game, I've had people ask me, 'Were you nervous,' 'What were you thinking?' It was more like, I'm the backup goalie and Matt [Hackett] and Tyler [Seguin] are our ticket to this series, and now it's only Seguin. I went in there thinking I'm going to play the best I can – I want to give my team a chance to win. I think playoffs are a strong point for me. I had a nice, calm head. I didn't think about who was in the building. I thought more about each stop. Every shot was a new shot, but they kept coming. Our team did really well with the shots – they were from the outside, so it wasn't like every shot was a breakaway. A lot of people say it was really a fascinating game to watch, but in my mind it was another game. They kept shooting and I guess it was one where I really didn't want to lose. We ended up losing [3-2 in overtime]. Definitely a heartbreaking moment for me, but I think that game got my name out there and got some people looking at me. That's going to be a game to remember, and it'd be hard to top for me, I think. It's not that often you get over 70 shots in a game, but it was a lot of fun and a great experience for me and my team.
Devils' prospects Adam Henrique and Harry Young were on that Spitfires team. What's the goalie's perspective on a player like Henrique?
Playing against him, he's not my friend, but off the ice he's a good guy. He's definitely a goal scorer. He's one of the 'Whaler killers,' we called him. He scored the first goal in the third period on the power play on me, took a nice shot over my blocker. He's a great player. Harry Young, a big leader defenseman. Henrique is a guy I've played against for the last two years; I've had a couple of appearances against Windsor. It's going to be a fun, joking manner when I go out there. He was the one that lit me up to open the floodgates for them in that last game. [Plymouth led 2-0 after two periods.] He's definitely scored a fair bit of key goals against the Whalers. He might not be my best friend on the ice, but off the ice, he's one of those guys that's great to get to know.