April 29, 2020

Rangers prospect Adam Huska solid Rookie season shows real promise

Adam Huska (AHL)

Rangers goaltender prospect Adam Huska completed his rookie season with Hartford after spending three seasons with the University of Connecticut in Hockey East. The Rangers elected to sign Huska to an entry level contract last Spring. Prior to the completion of his first full season, Huska played in 9 games with Hartford in the tail end of the 2018-19 season. Despite being drafted in the 7th round as the 184th pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Huska has shown potential to become a depth goalie for Hartford.

Early Developmental Stages

Before Huska was given a sniff of life as a pro, the goaltender had spent time playing in the same building as the Hartford Wolf Pack with the University of Connecticut. I was excited to see Huska in the early stages of his career at the Hockey East level. The prospect played a good amount of games during his tenure with the Huskies. UConn didn’t shy away from putting him in tough games and he showed a keen ability to make clutch saves.

Huska also had to bounce back from a lengthy injury in his sophomore season with the Huskies (2017-18). The prospect struggled in his Junior year finding it difficult to win. However, the Huskies were also struggling during his tenure as well and the Rangers took that into consideration. At the conclusion of the season, the Rangers gave Huska a deal to begin his career outside of college, rather than having the prospect complete senior year with the Huskies.

Once signed with New York, Hartford signed Huska through a PTO in the 2018-19 season to adjust his game through the professional ranks. Huska was thrown into the fire immediately, considering the lackluster roster and a diasterous season with multiple issues. Huska was exposed to numerous chances and struggled with a weak Wolf Pack roster. Huska went 1-7-1 with a 3.45 goals against average during his tryout.

Huska (UConn)

Huska Beats AHL Veteran For Spot

The Rangers prospect focused and trained well to prepare for his first full year in the AHL. After exposure with Hartford last season and the incoming goalies for this season, Huska had to fight for a spot to stay on Hartford’s roster.

At the time, Igor Shesterkin was a lock in Hartford as the top goalie after he was sent to the Wolf Pack. Adam Huska was competing against Tom McCollum for the backup role. McCollum was a July 1st free agent signing that summer and was suppose to help the Pack in net. At the time, expectation was for Huska to start in the ECHL with the Maine Mariners.

As the games continued and both goalies had a chance to showcase their skill, Adam Huska was excelling for Chris Drury and Hartford’s new coaching staff as they were impress with his play. Tom McCollum was assigned to the Maine Mariners of the ECHL while Huska was given the backup role in Hartford. That speaks volume for the prospect, overcoming tough competition to have a spot in Hartford for the entire season.

Season Progression

Huska maintained the backup role for majority of the season. Head coach Kris Knoblauch had a great goalie rotation that allowed Shesterkin to play plenty of games without being overworked. Coach Knoblauch played Huska just enough to not get cold and be ready when called.

In the later portion of the season, Huska was given the nod to become the starting goalie briefly once Shesterkin was called up to Broadway. This also gave a chance for Hartford to see if the netminder could handle a bigger role potentially next season. Unfortunately, the role was too big for Huska as he was not ready for that spot. Once JF-Berube joined Hartford, Huska was back in his backup spot. Periodically, Huska played with the Maine Mariners as well (3 games) to keep him sharp.

The goaltender continues to show strides in his game and looking back at the 2019-20 season, Huska did grew in some aspects of the game. He still has work to do in various aspects of goaltending. I expect him to have another strong off-season where he focuses more on his game and will be ready for more action next season.

Rebound Control

Teams began to figure out how to score against Hartford when Huska was in net thanks to inconsistent rebound control. Huska was spotty and teams found a way to capitalize on that weakness many times. The Hershey Bears did that often against Huska when he was in net. Another area is his five hole which is something he needs to fix quickly.

His Strengths and Future

Huska’s positioning, composure, and ability to bounce back from games gives him a solid ceiling for development. He has the ability to read plays well and is calm in net regardless of the situation or score. The prospect may not have consistency on all nights, but he can break his rut after a rough outing. His mindset is strong for a goalie and he is not afraid of making mistakes. He’s embracing his roles well and has worked diligently with the coaching staff.

Adam Huska will return next season with additional progression in his development. Despite the tough goaltending log, Huska will find a way to return to Hartford next season one way or another. I look forward to training camp for next season with the goalies in the system.

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