The New York Islanders only have one goalie, Rick DiPietro, under contract for the 2009-2010 season. With all the injuries that DP has had over the last two-plus years, only signing a free-agent goalie will not do.
The Islanders have basically ignored the goalie position in the early rounds since making DP the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. It is time, though, for the Isles to take a goalie in the early rounds, in case DP can never put the injury problems he has had the last few seasons behind him.
The Isles should use one of their three second-round picks on a goalie. Here's a look at the top five goalie prospects in the 2009 draft.
1. Matthew Hackett, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Hackett shot up the draft boards, going from eight on the mid-term rankings to No. 1 on the final rankings. He went 34-14-3 in 55 games with a 3.04 G.A.A. and a .913 save percentage.
Hackett is also a big goalie at 6'2". He takes up a lot of the net, and is said to be a very sound goaltender. He plays the angles well, and he keeps himself well positioned. Also covers the net well, and is confident in his abilities.
Hackett is also the nephew of former NHL goalie Jeff Hackett, who currently is a goalie coach for the Avalanche, so he already has had some work with an NHL goalie coach.
2. Robin Lehner, Frolunda (Swedish League)
Lehner posted a 3.05 G.A.A. and a .903 save percentage in 22 games this season for Frolunda. He also played for Team Sweden in the Under-18 World Championships. He is also the top-ranked European goalie.
Lehner is another tall goalie at 6'4". He takes up the net well, and is said to have a strong glove. His big weakness, though, is his tendency to give up big rebounds. Scouts say he needs to work on directing rebounds to the corners instead of out in front of the net.
Lehner said he would like to play one more year in Sweden before coming to North America but is open to playing in the CHL next season.
3. Oliver Roy, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Roy set league records for wins by a 16-year-old with 27, and shutouts by a rookie with four. This past season, Roy went 35-13 with a 2.80 G.A.A. and a .906 save percentage.
Roy plays a hybrid style, combining the butterfly with a more upright stance. This allows Roy to move to the top of the crease quickly and come out to challenge shooters.
Roy does like to challenge shooters, and is said to have very quick legs.
The one main weakness Roy does have is his puck-handling skills. He will need to work on that as he continues to develop because many teams now look for goalies who can handle the puck.
4. Edward Pasquale, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Pasquale won 32 games while posting a 3.02 G.A.A. and a .911 save percentage this past season for the Spirit.
Pasquale has excellent foot speed, and his butterfly is so good he takes up almost the entire bottom of the net. Pasquale's lateral movement is also good, as he can get from post to post quickly.
Pasquale is also 6'4", so he covers the upper part of the net when he goes down.
Projected top prospect John Tavares also complimented Pasquale, saying it is hard to find a weakness on him when shooting.
5. Mikko Koskinen, Blues Espoo (Finland League, SM-Ligga)
Koskinen posted a 1.91 G.A.A. and a .912 save percentage in 33 games this past season for Blues Espoo. He is the second-ranked European goalie in this year's draft.
Koskinen could be a dark horse in the draft. He is 6'7", and is lightning-quick for a guy his size. Obviously, Koskinen takes up a lot of the net with his size.
No one knew about this guy until this past year. Now many teams have scouted him, but no one is saying much about him because every team interested is hoping that he falls to them wherever they have him on their draft board.
So, there is a look at some of the top goalie prospects in this years draft. It is a relatively weak year for goalies in the draft, but with so many extra picks, the Isles can afford to draft one of these guys, and hope they turn into something.
I hope they take Koskinen, if they can. Why not take a goalie that big, and see if they can make something out of him?