Fog Devils choose goalie, but will he choose them?

Brendan McCarthy
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St. Johns selects San Jose draft pick Timo Pielmeier, who has other options besides major junior

Timo Pielmeier Kolner Haie photo

It look likes Timo Pielmeier could be that special someone who will alleviate a lot of the concern about the St. Johns Fog Devils goaltending situation heading into the 2007-08 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season.

Thats if the Fog Devils can get him across the Atlantic.

St. Johns made Pielmeier, who turns 18 in less than two weeks, its lone selection in Wednesdays Canadian Hockey League import draft, choosing the German national junior team netminder 12th overall.

From all reports, this was a solid pick, one that can be seen as being indirectly pre-approved by the San Jose Sharks, who made Pielmeier their third-round choice, 83rd overall, in last weekends National Hockey League Entry Draft.

However, the Fog Devils selected Pielmeier without any real assurance that he will come to their training camp in August.

Hes definitely a goalie who has talent, but a player at that level usually has options, and in this case, we know he has options besides us, said Fog Devils head coach/general manager Real Paiement shortly after making the pick.

In fact, Pielmeier, who played with Kolner Haie (Cologne Sharks) in Germanys top-level junior league last season, has an agreement in place that would see him move up to the German Elite Leagues (DEL), that countrys top pro circuit next season. However, according to Paiement, that deal, which is with the Berlin Eisbarens (Ice Barons), has an opt-out clause that would allow Pielmeier to come to North America.

Now, the Devils must convince the young netminder and his agent to exercise that option.

We think we can bring arguments to him that will bring him over, said Paiement.

It can be expected San Jose will do some lobbying on behalf of the Fog Devils in that regard since NHL teams generally prefer to have drafted European players continue their development at the major junior level.

Pielmeier, who was the first German player taken in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, was the No. 1 netminder for Germanys national under-18 team last season and the backup on his countrys latest world junior entry. The five-11, 175-pounder made just one start at the 2007 world junior championship in Sweden, but it was one that widened the eyes of fans and scouts alike, as he starred in a 3-1 loss to Canada.

At that age, all players need to be coached, but you can see where hes received some good coaching so far, said Paiement. When it comes to his style, he plays the butterfly and forces teams to shoot high.

Hes got good feet ... hes very quick side to side, he sees the puck well and has good rebound control.

It is always a risk taking a player who hasnt already agreed to come over, but this is certainly a case where we think the risk is worth the rewards, added Paiement, who spoke with Pielmeier Wednesday and found the young goaltender agreeable, if non-committal.

Now we need to do our work. My summer has gone from one where I could lay on my deck, to one where I will be very busy.

With Swedish winger Mario Kempe set to return, the Fog Devils passed on their second-round pick in the import draft.

If Pielmeier does opt to join the Fog Devils, it would certainly widen the St. Johns goaltending options.

The Devils two top netminders from last season Ilia Ejov and Pier-Alexandre Marion will both be overagers for the 2007-08 campaign. And with QMJHL teams permitted just three overage players, its almost a certainly that Paiement would only keep one of Marion and Ejov. However, should Pielmeier agree to play major junior, the Devils may not need either of the veteran backstops, clearing the way for other goalies like 19-year-old Bradley Dyke of Corner Brook, coming off a solid season in the tier 2 MJAHL, or recent midget draft pick Jake Allen, while also opening a 20-year-old berth for a forward or defenceman.

However, Paiement says, as it stands, he intends to bring Marion, Ejov, Dyke, Allen and two or three other goalies to camp.

Whatever happens, were going to have a competition for jobs, he said.

Tim Spencer, who played most of last season as a Fog Devils overager, has been invited to the St. Louis Blues rookie camp in September.

The 20-year-old left-winger from Carnduff, Sask., enjoyed career highs in games played (67), goals (8), assists (15), points (23) and penalty minutes (150) in 2006-07, his only season in St. Johns.

His only other season in the QMJHL was spent with Moncton, where he had 14 points and 140 penalty minutes in 64 games, on the way to helping the Wildcats capture the 2006 Presidents Cup.

Organizations: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Wednesdays Canadian Hockey League, San Jose Sharks National Hockey League Entry Draft German Elite Leagues NHL St. Louis Blues

Geographic location: San Jose, Atlantic, North America Sweden Canada Corner Brook Carnduff Sask. Moncton

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