2013 NHL Draft: Ranking the Top 10 Goaltenders Among This Year's Prospects
The intrigue of the 2013 NHL draft need not end for any interested observers once Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin learn where they are going. There is a decent chance that one of MacKinnon and Drouin’s fellow key cogs on the Memorial Cup champion Halifax Mooseheads can join them as a first-round pick.
If Zach Fucale goes that early as the first goaltender selected, or even if he does not but still blossoms into a top-notch performer, he will embolden the 2012-13 Mooseheads legacy. He may also retroactively stress his importance to an offensively spoiled team for those who overlooked him at the time.
Beyond that, there is ample opportunity for virtually any other prospect to defy his picking position en route to a steady NHL career, as many have done in this particular position.
10. Antoine Bibeau
In a breakout year with the PEI Rocket, Antoine Bibeau finished sixth among Quebec League netminders on the goals-against average leaderboard and second in save percentage. He also closed out the regular season with a 9-0-2 hot streak over his final 11 decisions, a performance that doubtlessly fueled his rise from being unranked to No. 9 among North Americans in a matter of months.
At 6’2” and 210 pounds, Bibeau has an abundance of size to fill the net and, given his finish to the season, should have a solid foundation of self-assurance to build upon.
One caveat, however, is the fact that he is more advanced, age-wise, than the majority of his fellow draft prospects. He turned 19 on May 1 of this year.
In addition, one will not know until he resumes playing whether the Bibeau that was at his best in 2012-13 is for real or fool’s gold. The fact that he crashed the rankings out of nowhere when he did means that there will be a degree of pressure to validate his new persona as a touted prospect.
9. Eamon McAdam
As Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News noted last week in a feature on Eamon McAdam, the Penn State-bound stopper split the crease duties with fellow draft prospect Calvin Petersen in the USHL. But, he figures to see a greater percentage of the workload once he joins the fledgling Nittany Lions program.
This past season, McAdam logged 31 games played for the Waterloo Black Hawks, and Petersen logged 35. In turn, his annual game log at the college level should at least not be quantitatively different from what it was in his busiest USHL season.
In his column, Kennedy quoted one scout as follows on the subject of McAdam: “High energy, high risk, high reward goaltender…Great athleticism, but quirky. Attacks the puck, challenges shooters, but he does guess a lot…Great kid in person, you can’t shake his confidence.”
On the subject of guessing, until he is deep into his freshman campaign, it is anyone’s guess as to how McAdam handles a decided starting role at a high level. As mentioned, the cumulative physical workload should not be much of an issue, but the intangibles are up in the air, particularly the “confidence” that the scout alludes to in his interview with Kennedy.
That is why McAdam can expect to be a somewhat later selection and to go to an organization that has room in its stable of budding backstops for a maybe-maybe not prospect.
8. Ebbe Sionas
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Admittedly, there is not much readily available information on Ebbe Sionas.
Looking him up on search engines, let alone the news section of those engines, yields frustratingly minimal results. Ditto the search for video highlights on YouTube.
Even so, he does stand at No. 2 in the rankings among European goaltenders and there is this assessment from New York Islanders goaltending instructor Mike Dunham, per that team’s website: “Ebbe Sionas moves well around his crease which allows him to be in good position to make saves. He has quick feet and hands, and controls his rebounds well.”
Over the past three seasons, Sionas has made enough of an impression to continuously represent his native Sweden in various international tournaments of various age groups. He is relatively young in this draft class, having turned 18 on March 7, and thus should have one or two cracks at the World Junior Championship still to come.
7. Calvin Petersen
Unlike his now-former colleague McAdam, Calvin Petersen is bound for a more established college program at Notre Dame. Although, per a Black Hawks press release from last October, he will not enroll until 2014, opting for one more USHL campaign.
How much game experience Petersen picks up right away and down the road remains to be seen, but he should at least be facing some worthwhile rigor at the hands of his own teammates every day in practice.
According to Neate Sager of Yahoo! Sports, Petersen will have some unique qualities to hone in the process. Sager recently wrote the following:
“As a long-limbed left-hander, he poses a unique challenge to shooters. Not only do opponents have to adapt facing a goalie whose glove is on the ‘wrong’ hand, but Petersen also uses his legs very effectively to cover the low corners of the cage on dekes and jam plays.”
For the moment, though, he will be refining his attributes at the same level against the same basic competition. But with McAdam leaving, he should log a greater quantity of extramural experience in Waterloo next year.
6. Spencer Martin
In his second season with the Mississauga Steelheads (nee St. Michael’s Majors), Spencer Martin took on roughly three times as much action in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12. In over 46 appearances, his primary task was helping to bail out the Ontario League’s shallowest offense, which mustered a mere 179 goals in 68 total contests.
As it happened, he did just enough of his part to help Mississauga to the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. He finished the season No. 10 in goals-against average and 11th in save percentage.
Martin’s profile from Hockey’s Future credits his comparative success to “poise and an even-keeled temper” and notes that those qualities fuel “a tall goaltender who embraces the butterfly” and is “quick to go down and uses his speed and agility to scramble back into the play.”
On that note, one of his topmost questions is whether he can scramble back into rhythm after an unsavory ending to his 2012-13 campaign. Whoever picks Martin in the draft ought to watch for resiliency and improvement by virtue of growing pains in the coming season.
The Steelheads snuffed out of the OHL playoffs to no one’s surprise against Malcolm Subban and the Belleville Bulls in six games. But Martin’s season ended even earlier after he allowed eight goals in Game 1 and played only half of another contest thereafter.
5. Philippe Desrosiers
In an offensive-minded Quebec League, Philippe Desrosiers was one of only eight goaltenders to finish 2012-13 with a .900 save percentage or better, trailing the league leader by 13 points. His overall output, particularly his 22-8-5 record, made him a hard-to-match candidate for the QMJHL’s best among rookie netminders.
In addition, he put in five appearances with Team Canada at the 18-and-under World Championship, stamping an otherworldly .970 save percentage and 0.70 GAA in that span.
The aforementioned Sager of Yahoo! Sports underscored “a well-honed butterfly technique that increases his chance of making the first save” as one of Desrosiers' strengths, but added that “Scouting reports note his glove hand and rebound control are works in progress.”
The latter point need not stand as much of a worry in the long run, though. There will be plenty more post-draft action with the Rimouski Oceanic as well as various external events for Desrosiers to refine his game and translate that improvement to an even better statistical stature.
4. Tristan Jarry
Although he did not play as much as comparatively seasoned colleague Laurent Brossoit, Tristan Jarry still topped all of the Western League’s qualified leaders in goals-against average and save percentage.
Over 27 regular-season appearances, he retained a .936 save percentage and 1.61 GAA in 2012-13. That marks an encouraging developmental spike from the .894 save percentage and 2.83 GAA he stamped through 14 outings as a rookie in 2011-12 and his game-to-game consistency improved after New Year’s.
Because Brossoit turned 20 on March 23 of this past season, Jarry is the clear-cut heir-apparent for the Edmonton Oil Kings’ starting job effective this coming autumn. Having competed for crease time with a stopper as solid as Brossoit and having turned in the performances he did when given a chance, he has an enticing foundation to build upon.
3. Juuse Saros
Juuse Saros is coming off a career year in Finland’s top junior league and a stingy showing in the 18-and-Under World Championships. In each case, he posted an identical 1.86 goals-against average over a combined 44 games and he also has two strong Jr. A SM-Liiga playoffs on his transcript.
The aforementioned Dunham gave the Islanders’ website this talent evaluation: “Jusse Saros is a butterfly goalie that has extremely quick feet. He’s good at covering the low part of the net, and scrambles to find loose pucks well.”
Granted, as one interviewer in the embedded video clip points out, Saros’ aspirations go against the dense presence of taller and weightier prospective and established NHL stoppers. But so far, his energy level and compete level look big enough to trump any size-related worries.
2. Eric Comrie
A fellow Western Leaguer of Jarry’s, Eric Comrie took on a heavier workload on a somewhat less dominant team, the Tri-City Americans. In all, over two WHL seasons, he has aggregated 68 appearances with a solid 39-20-5 record.
As one testament to his impact on his team, Comrie played roughly half of Tri-City’s regular-season minutes with 2,178 and authorized 95 goals in that span for the aforementioned 2.62 GAA. Conversely, three other goalies combined for 2,144 minutes and 112 opposing goals for a 3.13 GAA.
There is one not-so-small drawback, though, as John Vogl of the Buffalo News notes: “Comrie’s season ended in February because of hip surgery. Scouts don’t have a full season to judge, and teams can’t be sure how he’ll fare under playoff pressure. He has no postseason experience.”
With that being said, if he can bounce back from that hip surgery and return to full form, which is more than plausible, Comrie will not have much left to prove in major junior.
1. Zach Fucale
One of the top testaments to Zach Fucale’s compete level, and there are plenty of them, is the embedded highlight package from the first game of this year’s Quebec League playoff championship.
In relatively unfamiliar territory, Fucale found himself engaged in a goaltender’s duel for the better part of the evening. But all he did was preserve a scoreless deadlock until his explosive Halifax Mooseheads broke through at the other end at 16:20 of the middle frame and kept up his unconditional stinginess long enough for Halifax to cultivate insurance.
Even when that reliability is lost in the stat sheet, it is not lost on those who have scouted Fucale.
Patrick King of Sportsnet assessed the prospective first-rounder as follows: “He’s a big-game goalie who doesn’t panic and plays with the mental resolve and maturity that belies his age. Fucale is strong in his positioning and lets the play come to him.”
In the same report by King, David Burstyn of McKeen’s Hockey weighed in on Fucale’s “good net coverage…he’s always in the right position” and added that “He’s used to pressure, he’s a very cool, calm and collected kid on the ice and off the ice.”
Fucale looks more likely to join the former someday, meaning he has exactly what an NHL organization should crave to foster in its pipeline.