Before we get started, there’s a goaltender in this year’s draft named Matthew Murray… alright, carry on.
Let’s close out this draft prospects blog series by taking a look at one of the most important positions in all of hockey: goaltenders. Teams need a solid goaltender, a brick wall if you will. A team can’t do well or have success on the ice if their goaltender isn’t steady in net. They don’t need to be Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur or Dominik Hašek or even Henrik Lundqvist (I know, that hurt my Devils fan heart to say) but they were (are) once-in-a-lifetime goaltenders and only one of those four was selected in the first round. Spoiler alert: it was Brodeur, who was selected 20th overall by the Devils in 1990.
Roy was drafted 51st overall by the Canadiens, after being passed up the Devils, who selected Craig Billington 23rd overall (in the 2nd round); Billington had 441 fewer wins than Roy. Lundqvist was selected 205th overall in 2000 by the Rangers and I don’t need to tell you just how dominant he’s been over the course of his NHL career. Other notable current goaltenders? Jonathan Quick was selected 72nd overall by the Kings in 2005. Braden Holtby was selected 93rd overall by the Capitals in 2008. Pekka Rinne, who had an outstanding 2016-17 postseason, was selected 258th overall by the Predators in 2004. These are all goaltenders who have had great careers and still play at a high level in the NHL today.
But Hašek is probably the biggest draft steal in NHL history; the Blackhawks selected him 199th overall (10th round) in the 1983 draft but later traded him to the Sabres for Stephane Beauregard and a fourth-round pick, a very, very lopsided trade. Hašek is one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the NHL and was taken in the 10th round of the draft. So again, draft position doesn’t really matter. You can find good goaltenders and prospects no matter when you’re selecting so let’s take a look at some of this year’s top goaltending prospects and some names to watch out for.
The top four North American goaltenders are all excellent netminders. Jake Oettinger, ranked #1, just played his freshman year at college hockey powerhouse Boston University; in 35 games played, he posted a 21-11-3 (W-L-T) record with four shutouts, a 2.11 GAA, and a .927 save %. He’s had pretty similar numbers throughout his career and has spent a ton of time playing for the U.S. at international tournaments and World Juniors. This past year, he was also named to the All-Rookie Team, the Second All-Star Team, and named a D1 All-Star; he also won a gold medal with the WJC U20 team. He’s arguably the best goaltending prospect in the draft and could be a solid netminder going forward.
Keith Petruzzelli is ranked #2 (on the North American side) and is going to play for Quinnipiac University (NCAA) in the fall. In his rookie season in the USHL last year, he played 35 regular season games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, and earned a 2.40 GAA and a .918 save %. In two playoff games, he had a 2.61 GAA and an .885 save %. He had a 22-10-1 record and posted a pair of shutouts. He was a USPHL U18 champion, and was named Goaltender of the Year and MVP in 2015-16; this past year, he was on the All-Rookie Team. He’s also a good goaltender and could make the jump to the NHL soon.
Ian Scott is next; he’s spent the last two years playing for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL. He played 50 games this past season, and he earned a 3.69 GAA and an .895 save %. He’s never had a GAA below 2.00 and his career numbers are around those as well. He could be a good late-round draft pick if there’s a team still looking for a goaltender.
Then you have Michael DiPietro, who is coming off of a remarkable Memorial Cup run with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. He posted an incredible 31-12-4-2 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record, and had a 2.35 GAA, a .917 save %, and six shutouts in 51 games played. He was one of the biggest reasons that the Spits made it as far as they did; he was also named to the Mem Cup All-Star Team and was named Most Outstanding Goaltender. He is also a solid netminder and could be the next big thing.
The top two European goaltenders are also really good in net. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has played 67 games with the HPK U20 team in the Finnish Junior A. SM-liiga. Here are his stats:
He’s been a solid goaltender his entire hockey career thus far and could be a good asset going forward for any team.
You also have Olle Eriksson Ek, who’s played in the Swedish SuperElit league for the past three years. Here are his stats:
Both are impressive goaltenders and have shown glimpses of NHL-level netminding, as have the other top prospects in the draft. Other names to look out for: Stuart Skinner, Dayton Rasmussen (who had a good scouting combine), Cayden Primeau, Dylan Ferguson, and Adam Ahman.
Even though analysts say that this draft is “weak”, there are still good prospects and good players; they just need some development. It should be a fun draft for all 31 of the teams involved this year! Tune in on June 23rd and 24th to find out who your team selects and be sure to stay tuned for more draft content!