Examining two of the Calgary Flames’ three young Russian goaltending prospects
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
Friends, anybody that tells you they understanding goaltending or goaltender development is either a liar or a goaltender themselves. Of all the positions in hockey, goaltending has the most bizarrely-shaped development path, to the point where some teams seem to avoid selecting them particularly early.
As we kick off our annual off-season dive into the prospect pool, let’s take a look at a pair of Russian-born goaltenders that didn’t place in this year’s top 20 prospect rankings as voted by our staff, but remain interesting individuals nonetheless: Daniil Chechelev and Yegor Yegorov.
A fourth-rounder in 2020, selected with a pick the Flames acquired from Buffalo in exchange for Michael Frolik, Chechelev stands 6’3″ and 185 pounds. He’s a classic tall goalie.
In his draft year, Chechelev played 49 games in Russia’s major junior league, the MHL, for Russkie Vityaz Chekhov (the Russian Knights), posting a .922 save percentage. He split his Draft+1 season between the MHL and the minor-pro VHL; he had a .924 save percentage in 19 junior games and a .912 save percentage in 21 minor-pro games.
With no clear developmental path in Europe (teams don’t usually jump to offer spots to players they expect to leave for North America soon), Chechelev headed to North America and spent 2021-22 and 2022-23 on American Hockey League contracts (with the Stockton Heat and Calgary Wranglers, respectively). But because of the Heat/Wranglers’ goalie depth, he spent both seasons in the ECHL.
And therein lies the dilemma. In two seasons in North America, Chechelev has played three games in the AHL (with an .870 save percentage) and 72 games in the ECHL (with an .894 save percentage). The hope was probably that, despite the spotty nature of ECHL defensive coverages, that he would thrive and progress there. That didn’t really happen; he was 53rd in save percentage in 2022-23 after being 63rd the season prior. Because of his lack of progression, it’s tough to assess what he is and what he could become.
For now, he’s without a home for 2023-24. He’s only 22 and the Flames retain his rights indefinitely due to the lack of an NHL transfer agreement with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. He could end up back with another AHL contract, or he could end up somewhere else. It’s difficult to predict.
A sixth-rounder in June’s draft, Yegorov is super-young; he doesn’t turn 18 until the end of August. He spent his Draft season with MHK Dynamo Moskva, an MHL team in the Dynamo Moskva system. (Prior to that, he was in Dynamo’s youth academy.)
Yegorov was one of effectively two second-stringers for MHK in 2022-23, playing behind 20-year-old starter Rostislav Glushchenko. He played 15 games (posting a .915 save percentage) and Maxim Yeryomenko played 13 games (posting a .925 save percentage). With Glushchenko aged out of junior, Yegorov and Yeryomenko will be joined by newcomer Matvei Spichyov, and it should be a bit of a free-for-all in terms of who gets the most starts.
Yegorov is another tall goalie, listed at 6’3″ and 180 pounds, but his lack of high-end sample size makes him both (a) a bit of a blank slate and (b) challenging to project. We should know a bit more about him in a year, but for now he’s tough to analyze.
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