In the run-up to seemingly every National Hockey League entry draft, the discussion inevitably turns to goaltending. Nobody has enough strong goaltenders, and the debate often shifts to if and when a hockey club should draft a goaltender.
There are a good many strong netminders available in the 2016 NHL Draft. Should the Calgary Flames take a look at any of them? The short answer is “yes,” but the more complicated question is “but when?”
Here’s a quick glance at first round netminders over the past decade:
- 2006: Jonathan Bernier, Riku Helenius, Semyon Varlamov, Leland Irving
- 2007: none
- 2008: Tom McCollum, Chet Pickard
- 2009: none
- 2010: Jack Campbell, Mark Visentin
- 2011: none
- 2012: Andrei Vasilevsky, Malcolm Subban
- 2013: none
- 2014: none
- 2015: Ilya Samsonov
Bolded names are basically NHLers at this point.
As you can see, there’s a pretty distinct divergence of outcomes from selecting first round netminders. If you presume (like I do) that the 2012 draft is the most recent one from which we can reasonably expect a goalie to have become an NHLer, the success rate of first rounders is 3 out of 10 (or 30%). In Flames history, names such as Jason Muzzatti, Trevor Kidd, Brent Krahn and Irving appear – often hauntingly – in fans’ minds.
There are no definite first round netminders this year, with Everett’s Carter Hart and Sweden’s Filip Gustavsson occasionally appearing in the very late stages of the first round in mock drafts. There’s no chance the Flames take a goalie at sixth overall.
Here’s a rundown of second round goalies of recent memory:
- 2006: Michal Neuvirth, Jhonas Enroth
- 2007: Joel Gistedt, Antoine Lafleur, Trevor Cann, Jeremy Smith
- 2008: Jacob Markstrom, Jake Allen, Tyler Beskorowany, Peter Delmas
- 2009: Mikko Koskinen, Robin Lehner
- 2010: Calvin Pickard, Kent Simpson
- 2011: Magnus Hellberg, John Gibson, Christopher Gibson
- 2012: Oscar Dansk, Anthony Stolarz
- 2013: Zachary Fucale, Tristan Jarry, Philippe Desrosiers, Eric Comrie
- 2014: Mason McDonald, Thatcher Demko, Alex Nedeljkovic, Vitek Vanecek, Brandon Halverson
- 2015: Mackenzie Blackwood
The Flames have taken three goaltenders in the second round during their history, and none of them have blown the doors off: Evan Lindsay, Andrei Medvedev and Mason McDonald. The relative success rate of the 2006-12 class is 7 out of 19 (37%), though if you Google some of these names a few of the non-NHL bodies are non-entities in hockey at this point.
If no netminders are selected in the opening round, there’s a distinct possibility that a few netminders could be drafted in the latter part of the second round – perhaps in rapid succession ala 2014. In addition to Hart and Gustavsson, you could see Sherbrooke’s Evan Fitzpatrick, London’s Tyler Parsons or the CCHL’s Colton Point selected.
There’s a decent mix of fringe NHLers and players we’ve never heard of in the third round mix:
- 2006: Steve Mason, Jeff Zatkoff, Daniel Larsson
- 2007: Timo Pielmeier, Josh Unice, Tyson Sexsmith
- 2008: Michael Hutchinson, Marco Cousineau, Jacob DeSerres
- 2009: Anders Nilsson, Igor Bobkov, Matt Hackett, Adam Morrison, Michael Lee
- 2010: Scott Wedgewood
- 2011: Samu Perhonen, David Honzik, Jordan Binnington
- 2012: Joonas Korpisalo, Daniel Altshuller, Jon Gillies, Chris Driedger, Jake Paterson, Matt Murray, Frederik Andersen
- 2013: Spencer Martin, Eamon McAdam, Marcus Hogberg
- 2014: Jonas Johansson, Elvis Merzlikins, Ilya Sorokin
- 2015: Felix Sandstrom, Dan Vladar, Adin Hill, Samuel Montembeault, Mike Robinson, Matej Tomek
The Flames have selected three goalies in the third round ever: Mike Vernon, Craig Anderson and Jon Gillies. It’s not a bad track record, to be honest. The overall success of third round netminders is a bit all over the place, with 5 of 25 (20%) chosen establishing themselves as NHLers and several of them falling off the face of the Earth.
Along with the previously-mentioned netminders who could be chosen in the first two rounds, you can add in Moose Jaw’s Zach Sawchenko and Joseph Woll of the U.S. National Development Team to the mix.
AT A GLANCE
Here’s a brief rundown of the seven goaltenders that are likely to be chosen early in this year’s draft.
||Primary Team (2015-16)
|Carter Hart||Everett (WHL)||63||.918|
|Filip Gustavsson||Lulea HF (Sweden Jr.)||20||.893|
|Evan Fitzpatrick||Sherbrooke (QMJHL)||54||.896|
|Tyler Parsons||London (OHL)||49||.921|
|Colton Point||Carleton Place (CCHL)||33||.915|
|Zach Sawchenko||Moose Jaw (WHL)||51||.916|
|Joseph Woll||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)||33||.918|
Hart is an August 1998 birthday and was the WHL (and CHL)’s top goalie. He also won gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He’s listed as 6’1″.
Gustavsson is a June 1998 birthday and played six SHL games as a 17-year-old. He took silver at both the World Under-18s and the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He’s listed as 6’2″.
Fitzpatrick (a January 1998 birthday) arguably has the weakest resume, as he hasn’t really won any awards and his results haven’t been fantastic in the Q. He’s 6’2″.
Parsons is a September 1997 birthday and one of the oldest first-year draft eligible players in this draft. But he had great results this season, backstopping the Knights to OHL and Memorial Cup titles. He’s 6’1″.
Point is a March 1998 birthday. He was the top goaltender in the CCHL last season and is committed to play at Colgate University next season. He’s 6’4″.
Sawchenko is a December 1997 birthday and a Calgary native. He was almost as good last season as Hart was. He captured bronze at the World Under-18s two years ago and gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He’s 6’1″.
Woll is a July 1998 birthday. He’s committed to Boston College for next season. He captured bronze at this year’s World Under-18 tournament. He’s 6’3″.
SUM IT UP
Based on age and performance, the best bets are probably Parsons and Woll. Parsons was excellent for the Knights during the post-season and could probably be had with a late second rounder (or the Flames’ third round pick). However, Woll is appealing because he’s going to be headed to Boston College to take over for Thatcher Demko and he’ll have plenty of time there to round out his game and mature. In terms of managing the internal succession plan of their goaltenders, Woll would provide the Flames with the most flexibility going forward.