Another NHL draft has come and gone leaving teams looking at shiny new prospects that they hope will turn into quality NHLers. So first off to the 21 goalies that were drafted this weekend I say congratulations! It’s a moment not a lot of people get to take part so feel free to enjoy it because the hard work is coming up very quickly. To those who weren’t drafted don’t stay discouraged or disappointed for too long. There are NHL camp invites and a season to look forward too. Do your job and you’ll get noticed next season.
With a day behind us we can now reflect on what happened along with what didn’t happen during the 2017 NHL Draft. If there is a winner of the day it’s the Dallas Stars. They came in needing to boost their pipeline and Jim Nill deserves credit for a job well done. Nill knew the Senators were going to take Jake Oettinger so he jumped in front of them. Than to end the draft he took the Giants in the Crease 10th Ranked North American Goalie prospect in Dylan Ferguson. The Stars leave the draft with the top ranked amateur goalie system in the NHL which was a far cry from what they had two years ago.
If there is a loser to be named after the draft it has to be the Chicago Blackhawks. They went into the draft needing to take a goalie as their goalie pipeline is severely lacking a high end goalie not named Corey Crawford. True they did add Anton Forsberg via trade but at best you get an average back-up out of him. The Blackhawks needed to take a goalie and they didn’t. They’ll have another shot though at getting the goalie they want via their rookie camp. There were some good goalies that went undrafted in Stephen Dhillon and Dayton Rasmussen who would be perfect camp invites.
I just love teams that view goalies as a valuable resource and are always looking to strengthen what they have. In this case there were three NHL teams that are rich in goalies who made themselves even richer. First off is the Montreal Canadiens who leave the draft with the best goalie pipeline in the NHL boasting a goalie depth chart of Price/Montoya/Lindgren/McNiven/Fucale/Hawkey/Primeau. I thought Philadelphia might forgo adding a goalie this time around but they decided to add the highly rated Russian Kirill Ustimenko. Lastly was the Columbus Blue Jackets who added Danil Tarasov who missed the entire season because of needing to get rid of a growth tumor in his leg. He might have surpassed Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as the top European goalie had he been healthy.
There’s also an interesting trend forming in Colorado. Before the draft Head Scout Alan Hepple said that the later rounds is the perfect place to pick a European, overager goalie. Last year the Avalanche selected 2nd time draft eligible Swede Adam Werner. This year they took 3rd time draft eligible Czech Petr Kvaca. Usually these overager goalies are used to supplement the high end goalie prospects teams draft early on. The Avalanche though are looking like they are looking to create a goalie pipeline completely constructed out of overager, Euro goalies. You can be assured teams will be watching closely to see how this experiment works out.
The team to watch this draft though for me was the Vegas Golden Knights. I mentioned before that this draft was important for them to build a proper foundation to their goalie pipeline. Respect to GM George McPhee and his staff for accomplishing that goal by taking a high end goalie prospect in Maksim Zhukov and Jiri Patera. It won’t end there though for McPhee and the Golden Knights. They have another opportunity to add even more talent or at least get a look at more goalie talent with their rookie development summer camp.
The work of a scout never ends though and it’s time to change gears for the 2018 NHL Draft. So here’s a quick ranking of goalies to watch for (mostly NA goalies) before the next season starts:
1. Jakub Skarek
2. Jacob Ingham
3. Alexis Gravel
4. Kevin Mandolese
5. Keegan Karki
6. Olof Lindbom
7. Olivier Rodrigue
8. Justin Blanchette
9. Jordan Kooy
10. Carl Stankowski