What we don’t know about goalies is a lot. When scouts talk about forwards or defensemen, or we read an online scouting report, we come away with some idea about the player. He’s fast and small, or big and slow, etc. Goalies? Who would play you in the movie? It’s difficult to figure out what scouts look for and the verbal we get from scouting services is either so technical it’s impossible to understand or it sounds like what we might say when asked the same questions. The entire idea of projecting goalies is voodoo. What’s a fan to do?
For me, as a fan of the game for over 40 years, the scouting report for goaltenders is something I usually skim over. Why? Once I’ve read the height and weight, nothing else really rings true. “He plays his angles well” sounds like something you could say about any goalie and “tends to be inconsistent” can be said about any teenager ever born.
What then, can a fan look at with an eye to future success? Not much, really. I like to look at a goalie’s save percentage and even that tends to be a moving target.
Take Zach Fucale as an example. If you recall, he’s the guy Edmonton wanted badly in 2013 and then traded out when he was taken by the Montreal Canadiens. Fucale’s pre-draft fame (or a lot of it) came from Craig Button, who was a very successful scout and is an excellent source of information for draft fans.
Fucale’s success since draft day has not come, if we use save percentage.
- 2012-13 55GP, .909SP (this was the draft year)
- 2013-14 50GP, .907SP (draft +1)
- 2014-15 41GP, .885SP (draft +2)
Now a few things: The QMJHL has been fertile ground for goalies going back exactly forever. There were five goalies this season with a SP over .900 (among starters) and young Fucale could recover and go on a 10-year run with percentages in the .920’s. He didn’t stop as many pucks this season as the last two years and that could be for all kinds of reasons.
Goalies. We simply don’t know.
#1 G Daniel Vladar
8-5-3 1.97GAA .933SV%. Intimidating 6’5 frame and presence in net. Developing pro level tools.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) March 5, 2015
WHO ARE THE BEST GOALIES IN THE 2015 DRAFT?
As we continue the least informative post in the history of ON, you’ll be shocked to find out I don’t know. I can tell you there are some impressive goalies based on save percentage:
- Daniel Vladar (Cze2) 8GP, .933
- Matej Tomek (NAHL) 33GP, .928
- Evan Smith (NAHL) 15GP, .923
- Adin Hill (WHL) 46GP, .921
- Ilya Samsonov (MHL) 18GP, .918
- Veini Vehvilanen (SML-JR) 17GP, .918
- Denis Godla (Slovakia U20) 16GP, .915
- Michael McNiven (OHL) 24GP, .914
- Ryan Bednard (NAHL) 37GP, .913
- Jordan Papirny (WHL) 59GP, .910
- Chris Birdsall (USHL) 30GP, .910
- Felix sandstrom (Swe Super Elite) 14GP, .907
- MacKenzie Blackwood (OHL) 51GP, .906
- Ryan Toth (WHL) 56GP, .904
- Callum Booth (QMJHL) 41GP, .900
- Luke Opilka (USHL) 14GP, .900
- Samuel Montembeault (QMJHL) 52GP, .891
Now, what can we tell from this list? And don’t say “find out who Nashville likes and take that guy!” because everyone has probably tried and failed. First, the NAHL either has crappy shooters or a flock of great goalies. My sense is the answer is probably somewhere in between.
Who would I take? I like the sounds of Vladar, Tomek, Samsonov and Adin Hill. I’ve seen Papirny good. After that? No idea. I can say that Blackwood—ranked No. 1 mid-term by Central Scouting—doesn’t look especially good.
That’s where it gets complicated for me. Remember when we discussed the NAHL’s shooters? Well, that’s kind of the problem for NHL scouts. If Blackwood is facing Connor McDavid and this Tomek fellow is facing less impressive players, how do we suss out the difference and apply it to the goalies?
No idea at all. I think my list would be:
because they all played a lot (or enough) and their save percentages are among the best in the league. However, if the Oilers draft MacKenzie Blackwood, are they wrong?
That’s the issue I have with drafting goalies. I think the best plan is probably taking one every year in the third round and trying to sign college goalies to fill out the depth chart and maybe catch lightning in a bottle.