Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, NHL teams have avoided drafting goalies early

It’s been often said that goaltenders are voodoo. Compared to the other positions in hockey, goaltending is a mystery. The development is nowhere close to linear and often the best goaltenders are found outside the NHL Draft – or buried in the late rounds.

As we’ve documented, the goaltender drafting history of the Calgary Flames is riddled with netminders that didn’t really pan out – especially when they were taken in the early rounds of the draft. It probably shouldn’t surprise you that two trends have emerged over the past few years of the draft.

  1. Teams aren’t drafting very many goaltenders early in the draft.
  2. The teams that are drafting goalies early in the draft aren’t getting a heck of a lot of NHL games out of them.

The general outcome of these two trends is that teams are avoiding taking goalies early on – especially in the first round – and are more and more taking them later on, where the relative risk of them not panning out is theoretically closer to that of skaters not panning out.

Goalies taken in first three rounds (2012-16)

Players are listed with draft position and NHL regular season games played.

First Second Third
2012 Andrey Vasilevskiy (19th to TB, 208)
Malcolm Subban (24th to BOS, 45)
Oscar Dansk (31th to CBJ, 4)
Anthony Stolarz (45th to PHI, 25)
Joonas Korpisalo (62th to CBJ, 90)
Daniel Altschuller (69th to CAR, 0)
Jon Gillies (75th to CGY, 12)
Chris Driedger (76th to OTT, 3)
Matt Murray (83th to PIT, 161)
Frederik Andersen (87th to ANA, 317)
2013 nobody Zachary Fucale (36th to MTL, 0)
Tristan Jarry (44th to PIT, 29)
Philippe Desrosiers (54th to DAL, 0)
Eric Comrie (59th to WPG, 5)
Spencer Martin (63th to COL, 3)
Eamon McAdam (70th to NYI, 0)
Marcus Hogberg (78th to OTT, 4)
2014 nobody Mason McDonald (34th to CGY, 0)
Thatcher Demko (36th to VAN, 10)
Alex Nedeljkovic (37th to CAR, 2)
Vitek Vanecek (39th to WSH, 0)
Brandon Halverson (59th to NYR, 0)
Jonas Johansson (61th to BUF, 0)
Elvis Merzlikins (76th to CBJ, 0)
Ilya Sorokin (78th to NYI, 0)
2015 Ilya Samsonov (22th to WSH, 0) MacKenzie Blackwood (42th to NJD, 23) Felix Sandstrom (70th to PHI, 0)
Daniel Vladar (75th to BOS, 0)
Adin Hill (76th to ARZ, 17)
Sam Montembault (77th to FLA, 11)
Mike Robinson (86th to SJS, 0)
Matej Tomek (90th to PHI, 0)
2016 nobody Carter Hart (48th to PHI, 31)
Tyler Parsons (54th to CGY, 0)
Filip Gustavsson (55th to PIT, 0)
Evan Fitzpatrick (59th to STL, 0)
Joseph Woll (62th to TOR, 0)
Jack LaFontaine (75th to CAR, 0)
Wouter Peeters (83th to CHI, 0)
Connor Ingram (88th to TBL, 0)

While it’s too early to judge the 2017 and 2018 drafts, only one goaltender was taken in the first round in either of those events – Jake Oettinger in 2017 by Dallas.

For the curious, the most NHL regular season games played by the goaltenders in the 2012-17 Drafts:

  • 2012: Frederik Andersen, drafted 88th overall (317)
  • 2013: Juuse Saros, 99th overall (79)
  • 2014: Thatcher Demko, 36th overall (10)
  • 2015: MacKenzie Blackwood, 43rd overall (23)
  • 2016: Carter Hart, 48th overall (31)

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  • deantheraven

    Yep. There’s Jon Gillies at 75 and two bona fide starters a little later. A lot of zero starts after that.
    Sheesh. The Flames would have better luck if they investing in cloning technology. One hair from Kipper and a few million dollars would net better odds. (Pun intended)

  • The GREAT WW

    “Teams aren’t drafting very many goaltenders early in the draft.
    The teams that are drafting goalies early in the draft aren’t getting a heck of a lot of NHL games out of them.
    The general outcome of these two trends is that teams are avoiding taking goalies early on – especially in the first round”

    So the outcome of not drafting goalies early is that teams don’t draft goalies early……..ok.


    • freethe flames

      His numbers:
      2013-14 Chicago Wolves AHL 1 2.78 0.912 |
      Kalamazoo Wings ECHL 40 2.35 0.922 | PLAYOFFS 3 1.88 0.946
      2014-15 Chicago Wolves AHL 45 2.35 0.916 | PLAYOFFS 5 2.16 0.938
      2015-16 St. Louis BluesSt. Louis Blues NHL 1 4.69 0.750 |
      Chicago Wolves AHL 41 2.85 0.907 |
      2016-17 Chicago Wolves AHL 32 2.71 0.911 | PLAYOFFS 2 1.86 0.950
      2017-18 St. Louis BluesSt. Louis Blues NHL 0 – – |
      Providence Bruins AHL 28 2.04 0.926 | PLAYOFFS 3 4.38 0.865
      2018-19 St. Louis BluesSt. Louis Blues NHL 32 1.89 0.927 | PLAYOFFS 23 2.52 0.909
      San Antonio Rampage AHL 16 2.08 0.927

        • freethe flames

          Thanks for the information. My point is that while we want to bail on guys is that sometimes goalies take time to arrive. Sometimes all it takes is to have the right goalie coach that finds the right way to help the goalie. Maybe playing deep in your net when you are big goalie is not the best way to play. Having watched a couple of practices with the Flames it sure seems like this is the way they are being coached.

        • freethe flames

          SF: Here are Jarr’s numbers as well:
          2015-16 Pittsburgh PenguinsPittsburgh Penguins NHL 0 – – | PLAYOFFS 0
          Wilkes-BarreScranton Penguins AHL 33 2.69 0.905 | PLAYOFFS 3 2.24 0.902
          2016-17 Pittsburgh PenguinsPittsburgh Penguins NHL 1 3.06 0.880 |
          Wilkes-BarreScranton Penguins AHL 45 2.15 0.925 |
          2017-18 Pittsburgh PenguinsPittsburgh Penguins NHL 26 2.77 0.908 |
          Wilkes-BarreScranton Penguins AHL 16 3.05 0.901 | PLAYOFFS 3 3.31 0.894
          2018-19 Pittsburgh PenguinsPittsburgh Penguins NHL 2 3.50 0.887 |
          Wilkes-BarreScranton Penguins AHL 47 2.66 0.915

      • freethe flames

        Gilles numbers for comparison:
        2015-16 Stockton Heat AHL 7 2.31 0.920 |
        2016-17 Calgary FlamesCalgary Flames NHL 1 1.00 0.964 |
        Stockton Heat AHL 39 2.93 0.910 | PLAYOFFS 3 3.49 0.915
        2017-18 Calgary FlamesCalgary Flames NHL 11 2.88 0.896 |
        Stockton Heat AHL 39 2.52 0.917 |
        2018-19 Calgary FlamesCalgary Flames NHL 0 – – |
        Stockton Heat AHL 45 3.51 0.889