by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com.
After grabbing netminder Tyler Weiman in the fifth round of the 2002 Entry Draft, Colorado has taken its time breaking him in at a few different places and levels.
Right now, the fit is looking as comfy as the one between a young goalie’s hand and his favorite glove. Nearly seven years into the relationship — and at a stage when most prospects would be more than itchy — Weiman is both settling in and taking off. His six shutouts for Lake Erie pace the AHL, his goals-against average of 2.33 is fourth and his save percentage of .922 is tied for sixth.
"You don’t realize until you get drafted and go to camp how far (away) you are from playing in the National Hockey League,” said Weiman, 24. "I had a lot of proving to do. You have to prove you’re better than the next guy. Right now, I’m a Lake Erie Monster. You never want to look too far forward. You just have to wait your shot."
Weiman got one of those last season, in his one and only game with the Avalanche. Colorado had him zig-zagging the minors to reach that brief apex. As a rookie in 2004-05, he played for the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League. The next year he played for San Diego of the ECHL and Lowell of the AHL. In 2006-07 he played for Albany, before joining Lake Erie last season. All of that time, he remained Avalanche property.
"I’ve played in all levels of hockey. It’s made me stronger, the places I’ve played. It’s been an uphill battle," said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Weiman. "Everybody doubts you. You’re not a first- or second-rounder, you’re not over 6-foot-2. You wonder when you are going to get your shot. Sometimes you shake your head."
But not for too long. The tipoff to Weiman’s success is that at a point now when he might have gotten stale in the organization, his numbers are better than ever by far. Last season, for instance, he was 3.32, .903. In his one season in Albany, he was 2.99, .905. And this season he’s standing tall for a Monsters team that, while improving, is still much more challenger than contender.
"We take a lot of pride how we’ve turned around the year systems-wise. We pay more attention to detail. We hold everybody accountable," Weiman said. "It’s just another learning curve in your career. You have to get stronger, faster. The biggest thing is to take advantage of your opportunities when you get them."