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FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2019: #14 Dustin Wolf

There’s a very good chance that in a number of years, fans and scouts alike will marvel at how Dustin Wolf went 214th in the draft. “Remember how we thought him being small would matter more than literally everything else about him?” they’ll say as Wolf wins the Vezina.

Okay, so that may be getting ahead of ourselves here, but we ranked Wolf 200 spots ahead of his draft pick at 14th for the Flames top prospects, so clearly there’s a ton of potential in this kid.

How did we get here? 

Wolf was born in Tustin, California, which is fun because it rhymes with his first name. He played minor hockey for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings for three years before playing in the Western Hockey League for the Everett Silvertips the last two, where he played backup/successor to now-Philadelphia starting goalie Carter Hart.

He was then drafted in the final round at this year’s draft, with the fourth-to-last pick. Thanks to Vancouver being so close to Washington state, Wolf and his family drove up for the draft and waited until the end hoping to his name called.

His mother cried when it did. The Flames brought him a jersey when they realized he was still there. It’s a very heartwarming story.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

Where do we start?

As detailed in a fantastic closer look at Wolf by Christian Tiberi, there are a number of incredible statistics that Wolf boasts. Some of the highlights are:

  • Best goalie in the WHL by SV% (among regular goaltenders)
  • 27 games total where his SV% was over .950
  • Most minutes played of all goaltenders
  • His .936 SV% was nearly 40 points higher than the WHL average (.899)
  • Speaking of averages, he maintained a 100% scholastic average

It’s incredible that someone that can boast all that amongst a plethora of other statistics was still available in the seventh round, but that’s the obsession with height that NHL scouts have.

Even in the playoffs when those numbers dipped, he still had a .914 SV% as he and the rest of the Tips fell just shy of the WHL Championship. With the goalie slots all full at the professional level, it’ll be very exciting to see how Wolf builds off those numbers in his draft+1 year.

Those in the know 

The future is bright for Wolf, and that sentiment is echoed by those who spent the most time watching him, like Director of Broadcasting and PR for Everett Mike Benton:

At this point it’s fine tuning his details. People tend to forget he’s just turning 18, and still has more room to fill out, which is quite frightening based on the numbers he put up. Good goaltending coach in James Jensen (Devan Dubnyk, Freddie Andersen, Eric Comrie pupils) working with him.

Julia Hamilton, Everett’s beat reporter for the WHL Network, thinks that adjusting to his size is the only thing Wolf has to work on:

I would say that the only thing he needs to continue to work on would be the way he uses his small frame in net. He excels at this now in the WHL, but his height was a point of contention in the NHL Draft, so he has something to prove in terms of how we would match up against larger, professional hockey players.

On the horizon 

Similar to most Flames prospects, there is no need to rush Wolf into the NHL. He’ll have at least one more season in the Dub to continue to impress before he makes the jump to the pros. Perhaps he will be the Flames goaltending draftee that works out, delivering on a promise that so many have failed to.

If he doesn’t, then the Flames took a worthwhile gamble with the 214th pick, and it didn’t pan out. C’est la vie.

Previously

#20 – Lucas Feuk #19 – Josh Nodler
#18 – Linus Lindstrom #17 – Carl-Johan Lerby
#16 – Artyom Zagidulin #15 – Demetrios Koumontzis



  • cjc

    I guess I don’t really have a problem with Wolf being at 14. It probably speaks more to the lack of high-end talent in the system right now. Still, his was the fourth best season all-time by a 17-yo in the WHL (and none of the goalies ahead of him was a full-time starter). It really was a unicorn season. Here’s hoping he’s the Goalie equivalent of Gaudreau.

    • Derzie

      I had the same thought about the JG comparison. Simply because his stats are not worth of his dropping so far so it must be a size thing. We got JG early in the era of small guys getting a chance. Seems that Wolf is the goalie version, on paper anyway. Nothing at all to lose for Wolf or the Flames. Good story.

  • Longshot1977

    While goalie development is, as they say, “Voodoo”, there’s at least a decent chance that Wolf is considered a major draft steal in future years. His performance over his Junior career suggests that his numbers are a fluke, but are repeatable. To the eye, his technique and crease movement is phenomenal.

    I’m guessing (and hoping) that he might leapfrog the other Flames goalie prospects in rapid succession.

  • The GREAT WW

    Perfect spot to pick a goalie; he has just as good a shot at making the NHL as the goalies we wasted second round picks on…….that still being; a long shot….

    VOODOO!!!!!!!

    WW

    • cjc

      The thing to remember is that it’s a homer commenting (Director of Broadcasting and PR for Everett) who may or may not know something about goalies. What about the goalies Jensen tutored that amount to nothing? Also recall that Dubnyk and Andersen both had many goalie coaches after Jensen, so to attribute all of their success to him seems tenuous.

      I am not saying Jensen is a bad goalie coach, only that the link between goalie coaching and eventual NHL performance is unclear at best. So goalie coaches are the wrong place to start when trying to explain why some prospects make it and others do not.

      • The GREAT WW

        I don’t know if Jensen is a good goalie coach either……but I think he is better than anyone we currently have in our system; bar set very low……

        What do we have to lose with him in Stockton…?

        WW

    • The GREAT WW

      I’ll answer my own question: according to db he is 48 years old and is in his first year of coaching.
      He himself was 6’3 205 so interesting that he has had success coaching smaller goalies. Also interesting is that he was not much of a goalie as a player (only one year over 0.876 save % that was his last at 0.901%.

      WW

  • Baalzamon

    Okay, so I was going to post a comment about an absolutely hilarious “top 10 flames prospects” article, but apparently the site won’t let me post the link. So I’ll just tell you all a few quick notes about it:

    – Nearly every claim of fact is objectively and obviously false
    – The writer sometimes directly contradicts himself between paragraphs
    – He has Milos Roman ranked ahead of Dillon Dube

    Read it if you feel you need a laugh (and with the offseason going the way it is, why wouldn’t you?). It’s on My NHL Trade Rumors.

  • everton fc

    What I like about Wolf – and what I think gives him a possible edge to make it farther than his draft selection number – are his combination of character, and academic smarts. He seems to not be easily “ruffled”. He seems absolutely balanced, as a person. He wants it bad, and seems to take conditioning – both mental and physical – seriously. And he’s an eager, and willing student.

    I like Wolf’s chances…

    • HarveysFleaCollar

      I seen him play 3 times last season, really liked his poise. He has a lot of tools and by thevsounds of it has the capabilities to put in to his tool box.

  • The GREAT WW

    I don’t get it; if you have 100% in skool…..and your goalie numbers are that good as a 17 year old…..why not attend university on a scholarship?

    Seems like a no-brainer……

    WW

    • Albertabeef

      WHL is considered semi-pro in the NCAA, he makes a small salary with Everett. He is not eligible to play NCAA hockey now because of that. That’s why Canadian college bound kids like Janks play in the provincial-JHL instead of the CHL.

    • HarveysFleaCollar

      He cannot attend an NCAA school after playing in the CHL. He would have to red shirt I believe for a year before being eligible. He could go Canadian university route, but that is for older players, usually who have aged out of the CHL.

    • TheBigChef

      He’s going to get his school 100% paid for anyways by the CHL if pro hockey doesn’t work out for him.

      College hockey can also be tougher for some goalies in terms of development. Even if you’re the starter, you’re only playing like 22 games. Wolf played 61 games last year plus another 10 or something in playoffs. Working out and practicing all week and only playing games on weekends is great for some guys, but can also lead to bad habits when you’re not playing that often, especially when some college teams don’t even have full time goalie coaches.

      Eric Comrie was also a whiz kid and was supposed to go to U. Michigan I think but opted for Tri Cities instead so that he could get more minutes.

  • buts

    Leland Irving a former first round pick had awesome numbers in junior as well. Stats say a lot but I would rather have a goalie that has had more high danger chances and many more shots against versus impressive stats. Still as a 7th rounder what have you got to lose……nothing. Wolf is an excellent pick.