netwolf wrote:How much different (better or worse) would this team be if the Pens had drafted Staal instead of Fleury? Franchise goalies are much harder to come by than top-flight centers and they take longer to develop.
It is hard to say how much better or worse the Penguins would be because it would not be fair to assume that Caron/Thibault would have been the goalies this year if Fluery was not around. The Penguins may have drafted another goalie at some point or made a bigger push to sign someone different in free agency.
In a way it is also unfair to compare the two players as well and not because one is on a very good team and one is on a very bad team. Your second sentence says it all, goalies take longer to develop so it should make sense that Staal would be farther along at this point.
Staal has great numbers as we all know and for a while Fluery had numbers that were amazing for the caliber of team he is playing behind. Even right now his save percentage is .897 and if he would get that back above .900 he should get some kind of plaque. Fluery is wearing down, as was to be expected, and I don't expect him to be able to get that number back above .900. (It would also help Fluery if his goaltending partner could actually play a whole game more than once a month when given the oppurtunity but that is a different story)
To take the cynic's point of view on both players it is possible that Fluery will not continue to develop and never be a true #1 goalie. It is also possible that this could be Staal's best season and never put up that many points again. I do not think either one of those two scenarios will happen but anything is possible and they would not be the first player of their caliber to fall short of expectations even after having NHL success.
I think the Penguins made the right pick by drafting Fluery and part of that is the fact that franchise caliber goalies do not come along all that often. The other is that he is extremely talented and seems to want to work hard to get better (No matter what Errey says, I have heard way more about how hard he practices than one or two blurbs from Errey).
Staal is a very good player and it may be that in the end it may turn out that the Penguins could not have went wrong picking either player but I think the Penguins can feel safe in the pick they made.