Two years ago the career of goaltender Brent Krahn seemed stuck in neutral, maybe even reverse. These days it’s a much different story.
Krahn is coming off an outstanding 2009-10 season with the Texas Stars. The knee problem that had slowed his career seems to be behind him thanks to a surgical procedure two years ago. He’s got a new one-year contract from the Stars. And he’s got big opportunity ahead of him too.
“It’s exciting. This is going to be my third year in the organization. They gave me a chance after my knee surgery,” said Krahn, who was in Frisco earlier this month working out with Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley. “They’ve been so good to me and they’ve offered me an opportunity every year, and this year is no different. There’s even more of an opportunity now.”
The opportunity this coming season will be to compete for a job in the NHL. Krahn and Andrew Raycroft, signed as a free agent, will battle it out in training camp and the preseason for the job of backing up Kari Lehtonen.
“That’s definitely what I am going for,” said Krahn, who at 6-4, 212 pounds fits the much coveted mold of a goalie with size. “I’m here and I want to let them know I can do the job.”
The climb up the ladder to a shot at the NHL has been a long one for Krahn, taken 9th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. It’s been a climb derailed over the years by the injury problems, most notably a recurring issue of a dislocated kneecap. He had surgery in the spring of 2008 to correct the p problem and he got a fresh start on his career thanks to the Stars, who signed him prior to the 2008-09 season.
The Stars didn’t have an AHL team in 2008-09, so Krahn spent time with Las Vegas of the ECHL, Chicago of the AHL and even made his NHL debut, giving up three goals in one period of action against the Chicago Blackhawks.
But it was this past season, with the Texas Stars, when he finally got a chance to show why he was a highly touted goalie when the Flames took him so high in the 2000 draft.
“It was great. We were a very good defensive team. With our defense, you stop the first shot and they would clear out the rebounds. That makes the game simpler for a goaltender,” said Krahn. “Our forwards battled hard and blocked shots. It was a lot of fun down there. The atmosphere was great. It was fun to go to the rink every day because most of the games we played were close during the regular season, and I think that brought us close together.”
The goaltending of Krahn and Matt Climie was a big part of the team’s success. Krahn put up spectacular numbers to start the season, posting a 10-2-0 record, 1.41 goals against average and .958 save percentage. Then there was an injury. He missed three-and-a-half months following sports hernia surgery.
He returned late in the regular season and ended up with a 17-4-0 record, 1.83 goals against average and .945 save percentage. He carried the Texas Stars in to the West Division Finals against Chicago, but suffered a concussion in Game 6 of that series and missed the next 13 games.
“It was a heartbreaker. It was so frustrating. The playoffs are the most fun time of the year and no one wants to be on the sidelines. It was a hard pill to swallow,” he said. “I had a tough time watching the games. When I was on the ice I was calm and relaxed, but when I was watching I was nervous. I could barely watch. I was paying attention but I couldn’t watch because my heart was beating 100 miles per hour. Not good for trying to get over a concussion.”
He did make it back in time to start Game 6 of the Calder Cup Final against the Hershey, but the Stars lost the game 4-0 and the championship series 4-2.
“I wish I could have won, but it gives me more motivation to start the season,” said Krahn.
He’ll have motivation and plenty to build on following his on-ice performance of last season.
“This was the first year, coupled with the previous year, where I was able to keep building my confidence and find myself as a goaltender, how I wanted to play and what kind of mentality that I needed,” said Krahn. “And to get those pressure games in the playoffs is a chance to get more experience. As a person, it helped me put things in perspective, realizing that I can only control what I can control and trying to establish that confidence my teammates and coaches need to have in me.”
Despite the success with the Texas Stars last season, there were the injuries. But at least this time around it had nothing to do with the knee.
“That was probably the positive,” Krahn said. “This year I’ve got to get my body into top shape and give my body every chance to stay healthy. Missing that time last year was tough. Like I said, you don’t want to be on the sidelines. You want to contribute and you want to win.”
And this season he’d like to get that chance to contribute and win at the NHL level.
“It’s up to me,” said Krahn. “I’m looking forward to training camp.”