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NHL prospect profile: Kent Simpson

Yahoo Sports

Each day in the lead-up to the NHL Draft on June 25-26 in Los Angeles, Yahoo! Sports will feature one of the Central Scouting Bureau's Top 100 North American prospects from the Canadian Hockey League.

Kent Simpson will likely be a NHL team's goalie of the future come June 26.

There is more behind that than the mere fact the Everett Silvertips netminder is NHL Central Scouting's No. 3-rated North American goaltender for the entry draft. Simpson, who is on Hockey Canada's radar for a future world junior team after cadging an invite to its June 17-20 Program of Excellence goaltending camp, appears to have developed faster than most of his 18-year-old peers.

Simpson's .925 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average, each of which were second in the Western Hockey League last season, probably were somewhat a product of coach Craig Hartsburg's system of clampdown hockey. (Thomas Heemskerk, the other 'Tips 'tender, led the Dub at .927.)

The upshot is Simpson has taken full advantage of a good setup for a goalie, having a defensive-minded coach and a former NHL goalie, Doug Soetaert, as his general manager. Relatively few goalies post such gaudy stats in their age-17 season. Simpson has done so by virtue of being the quintessential bigger goalie (6-foot-2, 182 pounds) who doesn't let shooters see much of the net.

The goalie rated one spot above Simpson, Jack Campbell of the Windsor Spitfires and U.S. national team development program, already has a world junior gold medal. Don't be surprised if Simpson plays in the tourney eventually.

1. How would you say your past season progressed, from start to finish?

"I think it was awesome. I grew a lot as a player. My development is going in the right direction ... Coming in after last year, I didn't have the greatest confidence. As the year went long, I got more and more comfortable. I got more caught up to the pace instead of it being me trying to catch up to the game.

"Now, for next next season, I have a chance to take the ball and run with it."

2. In your mind, what would scouts say you have to work on between now and when you'll be on the cusp of turning pro?

"One thing scouts have talked with me about is being more aggressive when pucks are lying around the crease, not just making a stop, but putting them to a good area and getting out to the top of my crease. Another thing is getting more specific on my angles. As you go up a level, the shooters get that much better."

3. Whom do you consider your biggest hockey influence?

"Definitely just being in Everett with an organization like that and being with Doug Soetaert, our general manager who's won a Stanley Cup [as Patrick Roy's backup with the 1986 Montreal Canadiens]. Just learning from him, drawing experience from him.

"Having Craig Hartsburg come in as coach has been important in terms of learning to be a pro, just the little things he's taught us. He's always teaching us about little things you wouldn't even think about, but if you do them, people know you're making an effort."

4. Whom in the NHL do you look at and say, 'That's someone I need to be playing like?'

"I think I can relate to someone like [the Carolina Hurricanes'] Cam Ward or [the Boston Bruins'] Tuukka Rask. They're each technically poised but are still athletic goalies who can make that athletic save. Those are two guys I definitely look up to."

5. Favourite TV show or movie?

"I like The Guardian as a movie. It's pretty inspirational. TV show, I would have to say Seinfeld."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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