In Oilers history, drafting and developing goalies hasn’t been an easy square on the developmental bingo card. Andy Moog, Grant Fuhr, two decades to Devan Dubnyk, crickets. That’s almost 40 years of drafting and there have been a lot of misses along with the hits.
OILERS (DRAFTED) GOALIES AND NHL GAMES PLAYED
- Grant Fuhr 868
- Andy Moog 713
- Devan Dubnyk 358
- Jussi Markkanen 128
- Jeff Deslauriers 62
- Mike Morrison 29
- Daryl Reaugh 27
- Joacquin Gage 23
- Mike Greenlay 2
- Tyler Bunz 1
- Mike Minard 1
- Adam Hauser 1
And that’s it. 42 goalies drafted, 12 played in an NHL game (29%) and three (7%) have played in over 200 games. Needle, meet haystack.
Entering his draft year (2016), Dylan Wells was a substantial goalie prospect. His draft season did not go well at all. Here are two takes from my favourite OHL blog pre-draft 2016:
- Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: No doubt about it. Wells did not have a good year. Originally pegged to be the next star OHL goaltender, Wells struggled mightily this year. Of his 27 appearances this year, 16 of those saw him post a save percentage below .875. And he didn’t play for a weak team either. I managed to catch a few of those games this year and he really seemed to be fighting the puck, struggling with his positioning and rebound control in particular. Is there light at the end of the tunnel though? Absolutely. Wells remains a talented goalie. He was great at the Ivan Hlinka this past summer. Source
- Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: Wells has all the pieces you look for in a netminder. He has size. He is extremely athletic. And he has proven to be a quality netminder in the past (he had some fantastic performances as a 16 year old and looked great at the top prospect’s game). Getting his confidence back, and refining his positional approach will be key. First order of business is earning the starter’s job. Source
Entering this season, Wells had some questions surrounding him. The Peterborough Petes clearly felt he was a strong option, but there’s a major difference between faith and performance. Wells was chosen by the Oilers No. 123 overall, and he was the 10th goalie chosen overall in 2016.
Since then, Wells has re-emerged as the substantial talent Otten talked about at the Hlinka. During the regular season, his .916SP ranked him No. 4 among all OHL starters. Early in the playoffs, he is playing very well.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Miles to go, but it appears Wells has corrected as a prospect and is far more likely to emerge as a solid pro than his draft number implies. Goalies are difficult to project, but Wells performance during the regular year and early in the OHL playoffs should give fans hope. The scouts may have found one, and that is rare historically.