The NHL world has slowly been shying away from drafting goaltenders early. A goalie’s value over their career, for the most part, does not match the value of the pick they were selected with. With teams becoming more and more value conscious, they would rather try their luck (Henrik Lundqvist was a sixth rounder!) in later rounds than potentially slip up early on.
That doesn’t mean there are no good goalies. Carter Hart has earned consistent praise from scouts and the CHL Goaltender of the Year award despite being relatively undersized for a goalie (6’1″, 165 pounds). He has enormous talent, but the Flames are most likely not looking at a goaltender for this draft. Could Hart be able to change their minds?
Projected as the top golfer in the class. A confident goalie who is
agile and flexible, and possesses a super-quick glove. Has the ability
to swing momentum in his team’s favor. Squares up on shooters and is
quick going post to post. Displays good rebound control, excellent
reaction time, flexibility and flattens very low in the butterfly. Teams
will be concerned if he is going grow bigger than his present six foot.
His glove, reflexes, and quick pads are what have got him this far.
Folks in Washington State have plenty of other reasons to cheer Hart,
however. The Edmonton native and 2016 draft prospect is one of the top
netminders in the WHL, rocking a .930 save percentage and 2.18
goals-against average as Everett’s starter. At 6-foot-1, he’s not a
monster, but he also won’t let his frame dictate his worth.
Hart would like to improve on his puckhandling ability, but otherwise
he has a lot of nice attributes. The youngster prides himself on his
calm in the crease and he plays a reactive hybrid style. Hart also
helped Canada win gold at the summer’s Ivan Hlinka tourney, platooning
with buddy Dylan Wells of OHL Peterborough, who is also up for the draft.
He’s calm in his net, doesn’t panic, shows great side-to-side
movement, always makes the first save, and controls rebounds
beautifully. He plays at the top of his crease and makes it difficult
for shooters to find any holes to shoot for.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to offer here. We barely have complete data for NHL goalies, much less CHLers.
Nonetheless, we’ll make do. Hart was the workhorse for the Silvertips in his 63 games, posting a .918 SV% with a 2.14 GAA. Amongst qualifying goalies (1440 minutes played), he placed sixth in SV% and second in GAA. Hart was tied for second in shutouts with six, splitting the distinction with the Wheaties’ Jordan Papimy.
An injury kept him out of the late season and three out of four first round playoff games (a sweep against the Portland Winterhawks). Hart rounded back into form regardless, putting up a .929 SV% (fourth in the Dub) and one shutout, however he was not enough to stop the Seattle Thunderbirds from winning the second round series 4-1.
Hart also played in the Hlinka Memorial tournament for Team Canada, splitting the net with Peterborough Pete Dylan Wells. In his two games, he allowed three goals (1 vs. CZE, 2 vs SUI) on 31 total shots (.903 SV%), losing the starting position to Wells. With regards to other goaltenders in the tournament, he placed eighth in SV%.
All in all, Hart seems to be able to hold his own throughout a lengthy schedule (it seems he would nearly play the whole dang season if it wasn’t for his injury). He certainly did have some very bad days at the office, but he had way more positive outings than negative ones (game log here). Hart looks like someone who could be a solid NHLer with some time.
Fit with the Flames
The Flames’ goaltending depth may not be as sturdy as we once thought. Joni Ortio has disappointed in his pro appearances, Jon Gillies is coming off major knee surgery, Mason McDonald and Nick Schneider are hovering around average in their respective leagues, and David Rittich is a completely unknown asset. Perhaps it is wise to take out some insurance right about now.
If the Flames took Hart, he could play his two remaining CHL years while the Flames analyze their current goaltender situation and make their decisions. If the Flames manage to hit the bull’s eye with one of the five current goalkeepers, they could keep Hart around and groom him as the next in line in the AHL. He’s certainly a long time project, but the payoff could be absolutely worth it if the Flames are willing to wait five years for his arrival.
Hart is certainly talented, but if the Flames are going to use a second round pick on a goalie, it’s going to be one already in the NHL. If there are no sellers, don’t count him out as a potential pick. He is certainly not worth pick #35, but he could be still be available at the 50s. I certainly feel the Flames will spend at least one pick on a goalie this year; might as well spend it on one of the better ones.
Previous draft targets: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi | Clayton Keller | Alex DeBrincat | Sam Steel | Vitalii Abramov | Jake Bean | Tyson Jost | Mikhail Sergachev | Tyler Benson | Griffin Luce | Logan Brown | Samuel Girard | Will Bitten | Cliff Pu | Taylor Raddysh | Adam Mascherin