They say goaltending wins championships. But needless to say, scouting goaltenders is an inexact science at best.
Despite the difficulty in scouting goaltenders, there is plenty of talent to serve up in the 2013 NHL Draft that scouts will be paying particularly close attention to.
Halifax Mooseheads tender Zachary Fucale – the only goalie ranked in the first round by Future Considerations – is one such goalie.
The Rosemere, QC product has been very impressive as a rookie last season for Halifax before backstopping Canada to a gold medal finish at this summer’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial. Needless to say, Fucale has set the stage for an impressive draft season.
Fucale is a throwback to the QMJHL days of old when you could count on at least one top flight goaltending prospect to come out of the league. He’s not the biggest goalie in the class, but has some natural coverage to him with his real strength being found in his ability to play a strong reflex driven, strong quick mobility game as well as using his strong technical understanding to play his angles and remain in position to make second and third saves.
Fucale will need that composure to stay ahead of Tri-City Americans stopper Eric Comrie.
Comrie, the half-brother of ex-NHLer Mike, has been a highly regarded prospect since his days playing in Los Angeles with the U16 selects team. Despite all the celebrity in his family, Comrie is all about the game and shows the skill to carve his own path. He, just like Fucale above, is not overly large physically but compensates with strong technical skill, aggressively challenging shooters and displaying quick mobility in the crease.
Finnish butterfly stopper Ville Husso is hoping to create some attention overseas. He already has many talent evaluators excited for his draft season since his impressive play as a 15-year-old for the U18 HIFK team.
The athletic stopper is mentally strong, quick on his feet and reads the play well. While rebound control is usually an area that is a weakness needing more development for many prospects his age, Husso handling of the puck and rebound control has to be considered one of his strengths.
Swedish netminder Marcus Högberg has the size and mobility blend that just screams high-end NHL potential.
The six-foot-three puck stopper’s play for the Linkoping J20 squad last season in the playoffs backed up that projection as he was almost unbeatable when it counted most. Högberg should get the change to let his play do the talking in the Elitserien this coming season.
The OHL’s newest franchise name, the Mississauga Steelheads, hold a promising goaltender that is sure to have some eyes on him. Spencer Martin had just 15 appearances last season but looks to be the man in the pipes for the newly renamed Steelheads in his draft season.
Martin has the size at just over six-foot-two as well as the strong positional play and aggressive nature to make some waves in this, his draft eligible season.
And what would the draft be without some bloodlines between the pipes?
Brendan Burke, son of former journeyman Sean, is an intriguing player moving forward. His draw is not so much in what he has done but more in what his tools show he is capable of developing into.
The six-foot-three tender was raised in the sunny state of Phoenix as he followed his father but played for Portland of the WHL last season. He already has the size and smarts, now he just needs to refine his technical skills.
He isn’t the only one in the WHL to add some flavour to the draft. Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry is another promising talent. While he does not have the size of others, Jarry does have good quickness and reflexes to be a reactionary goaltender.
In the QMJHL, Domenic Graham with the Drummondville Voltigeurs has been hot and cold leading up to his draft year.
Graham started off strong as a late ‘94 rookie two seasons ago but faltered somewhat last season and into the playoffs as the team’s starter. He still shows some good positioning and quickness but also went through stretches were he just looked tired last year. Improved conditioning and overall consistency of play will push his name up most draft lists.
Andrei Filoneko could find himself in a similar position.
The high-end CSKA MHL stopper stands at six-foot-five and over 215 pounds, but size is not all the raw talent has as he moves well and is solid at getting his body in front of pucks. Like most Russian trained goalies, he has much developing to do; much work and time to put in but could be another one of those mid-to-late round gems teams look back on five years from now.
Though the draft is littered with quality goaltenders, perhaps none may get more attention then that of Anthony Brodeur.
As the name would indicate, Brodeur has some hockey lineage in that of father Martin. Brodeur, who is tending goal in Minnesota with Shattuck St. Mary’s prep. may not get first round consideration but he does have some of the same qualities that made his father such a success at the NHL level. He has that never-give-up attitude and plays a similar butterfly style.
While this is the early view regarding the 2013 NHL Entry Drafts goaltending crop, it should be noted that puck stoppers generally are the hardest prospect to judge as they do not all tend to develop or show the potential as early as their skating brethren do.