When the San Jose Barracuda made their unbelievable late season push to claim an AHL playoff spot, just about no player made a bigger contribution than Antoine Bibeau.
After three years of service in the crowded Toronto Maple Leafs system, Bibeau came to San Jose on a one-year deal last season with a chance to start fresh in 2017-18 and he made the most of it. The native of Victoriaville, Quebec played in 41 contests for the Barracuda, posting a record of 23-14-2 and finishing 11th among AHL starters in save percentage with .919. His work in the San Jose crease also earned him a spot on Team Pacific at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica.
Another stat Bibeau scored high on was Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA). GSAA takes the amount of shots a netminder faced and the league’s average save percentage to create a plus/minus that measures how many extra goals the netminder prevented.
According to a chart by Silver Seven’s Colin Cudmore, Bibeau saved 13.74 goals, putting him tenth among AHL goalies who faced 100 shots or more in the regular season. As the icing on the cake, at just 23 years old Bibeau was one of the three youngest goalies in the top 10, with only Utica’s Thatcher Demko (22) and San Antonio’s Ville Husso (23) finishing with a higher GSAA.
Bibeau’s first year for San Jose was undoubtedly a success, and it earned him a new two-year, $1.35 million contract with the Sharks back in March. He also stands as the undisputed number one netminder for the Barracuda going into this year after the club lost Troy Grosenick last season.
All that’s really left for Bibeau is to take the next step and make the big club. He’s arguably ready for a backup role at the NHL level now, but as long as Martin Jones and Aaron Dell are healthy and playing well, his role remains in the ‘Cuda cage — but that may be tricky. Bibeau is no longer waivers-exempt, meaning he’ll be open to being claimed at the start of the season.
What we like
Bibeau’s numbers speak for themselves, and he brings stability to a Barracuda team in transition. If he’s able to build on his success from his first season in the Bay Area, Bibeau could end up being the key to taking the ‘Cuda on a deep playoff run.
Areas of improvement
While there isn’t a particular spot in Bibeau’s game that needs improvement, it’s worth noting that compared to his first three AHL seasons with the Toronto Marlies, 2017-18 stands out in a lot of ways.
Bibeau hit personal bests in games/minutes played, shutouts and save percentage last year, and it’s worth questioning if he can match or improve his totals this season. Was last season a one-off or a sign of better things to come? Only time will tell.
Bibeau’s amazing stop on
Utica’s Cleveland’s Tyler Motte on October 22 not only led to an eventual 1-0 Barracuda overtime victory, but ended up being one of the little difference makers that helped San Jose make the Calder Cup Playoffs.