Don’t expect the Calgary Flames to take a goalie early in the 2023 NHL Draft

Photo credit:Jeremy Champagne/Brandon Wheat Kings
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
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Since 2000, the Calgary Flames have selected seven goaltenders in the first 100 picks in the NHL Draft. Those goalies have combined for 25 games with the Flames, and none turned into full-time, NHL goalies.
There are a few pretty good goaltending prospects available early in the 2023 NHL Draft. But based on the club’s history you probably shouldn’t expect them to use one of their early picks, 16th and 48th overall, on a goaltender.

A recent history of early goaltender picks

Since 2000, the Flames have drafted seven goaltenders in the first 100 of an NHL Draft:
  • 2000 – Brent Krahn, 9th overall
  • 2001 – Andrei Medvedev, 56th overall
  • 2006 – Leland Irving, 26th overall
  • 2012 – Jon Gillies, 75th overall
  • 2014 – Mason McDonald, 34th overall
  • 2016 – Tyler Parsons, 54th overall
  • 2020 – Daniil Chechelev, 96th overall
Krahn played one period in the NHL (for Dallas). Irving played 13 games, all with the Flames. Gillies has played 35 games, but just a dozen with the Flames. The remainder failed to reach the NHL.
Selecting a goaltender early carries with it a big opportunity cost. When you select a goalie early, you’re not selecting a forward or defenceman who may have a smoother path to the NHL. Considering that a lot can go wrong with goaltender development, that’s a big gamble.
Conversely, two recent late round goaltending draft picks look pretty good right now. In 2019, Dustin Wolf was selected 214th overall and he’s pushing for NHL duty. In 2021, they selected Arsenii Sergeev at 205th overall, and he’s performed well in college so far.

Goaltenders ranked in 2023’s top 100 on multiple public lists

If the Flames insist on getting a goaltender early, here are six goaltenders that have appeared in the top 100 on multiple public draft rankings.
Trey Augustine, U.S. National Development Program (USHL)
(Ranked 55th by Daily Faceoff, 77th by The Hockey News, 55th by FC Hockey, 35th by Dobber Prospects; 3rd-ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting)
A Michigan product, Augustine spent two seasons with the USNDP and has a .915 save percentage over 60 appearances. He backstopped Team USA’s entries at the men’s Under-18 World Championship to a gold medal and the World Juniors to a bronze. He’s committed to Michigan State University.
Carson Bjarnason, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
(Ranked 52nd by Daily Faceoff, 45th by The Hockey News, 49th by FC Hockey, 75th by Dobber Prospects; top-ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting)
A Manitoba kid, Bjarnason spent two seasons (and a portion of a third) with the Wheat Kings. He’s played 70 games so far, but only registered an .894 save percentage. He captured gold with Team Canada at the Hlinkas (as backup) and bronze at the men’s Under-18 Worlds. A June 2005 birthday, he’s on the young end of the first-time eligible age spectrum.
Jacob Fowler, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
(Ranked 58th by Daily Faceoff, 71st by FC Hockey, 51st by Dobber Prospects)
A kid from Florida, Fowler was the USHL’s top goaltender in 2022-23 and back-stopped the Phantoms to a Clark Cup championship. In 58 USHL games, he has a .923 save percentage. He back-stopped Team USA to gold at the World Junior A Challenge. He’s committed to Boston College.
Adam Gajan, Chippewa Steel (NAHL)
(Ranked 65th by Daily Faceoff, 33rd by The Hockey News, 76th by FC Hockey)
Originally from Slovakia, Gajan made the trek over to North America last summer and after a brief stop in the USHL, he really found a niche with the NAHL’s Chippewa Steel. Sure, the NAHL is a secondary junior league, but he was also excellent at the World Juniors and was named the tournament’s top goaltender. He’s committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Michael Hrabal, Omaha Lancers (USHL)
(Ranked 47th by Daily Faceoff, 34th by The Hockey News, 61st by FC Hockey, 45th by Dobber Prospects; 2nd-ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting)
Originally from Czechia, Hrabal came to North American for 2022-23 and had himself a pretty solid season with Omaha. He also represented his country at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the men’s Under-18s, but didn’t medal in either tournament. He’s committed to the University of Massachusetts.
Scott Ratzlaff, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
(Ranked 81st by FC Hockey, 98th by Dobber Prospects)
The understudy of Thomas Milic this season in Seattle, Ratzlaff was their starter for a chunk of the season when Milic was at the World Juniors and performed quite well. In 59 career WHL games he has a .912 save percentage, and he was Canada’s starter when they won gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

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