The Montreal Canadiens currently have a franchise goalie signed to a long, expensive contract, and if the Habs have any hope of winning the Stanley Cup in the next few years it will be because Carey Price is able to improve and return to his 2011 level. As a result, some might think that goalie depth for this team is trivial, and one wouldn't be entirely wrong. As has been seen with recent situations in Los Angeles and Vancouver, developing young goalies with an established number one goalie tends to create complications rather than help in the way that developing a top forward or defenseman always does. That said, you never know what will happen with Price, and developing alternatives isn't a bad idea. Currently, the only other netminders the club has under contract are Peter Budaj, Peter Delmas, and rookie Mike Condon. Dustin Tokarski will likely get an extension.
If you believe the rumors, Timmins and the Canadiens were poised to take Swedish keeper Oscar Dansk with the 33rd overall pick last year before Columbus drafted him 31st, so to be honest we shouldn't be completely shocked wherever a goalie is selected in 2013, whether that's 25th overall, or the seventh round. With that being the case, here is a look at some of the top draft-eligible goalie prospects in 2013, sorted by average rankings according to Future Considerations and McKeen's hockey magazines, Central Scouting, Kyle Woodlief, The Hockey News, and Corey Pronman.
1. Zach Fucale, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
6'1", 175 lbs, catches left. 55 GP, 45-5-3, 2.35 GAA, .909 sv%, 2 shutouts.
Fucale, the consensus top goaltender in this year's class, is a sound positional goalie with a calm demeanor who excelled this year, winning a Memorial Cup with the Mooseheads. While acknowledging that his record is largely the result of playing for a powerhouse team, scouts praise his composure and ability to stay focussed despite long stretches without much action, able to make the big save when it counts. Fucale's biggest assets are likely his mental toughness, anticipation, and sound technical play, while his largest weakness would have to be his athleticism and quickness, as he's the type of goalie that relies on angles and positioning to make saves rather than using reflexes to cover for his own mistakes. Bulking up will be important to make that style work.
Average goalie ranking: 1.2
Projected round selected: Late first round
2. Eric Comrie, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
6'0", 175 lbs, catches left. 37 GP, 20-14-3, 2.62 GAA, .915 sv%, 2 shutouts.
Comrie, brother of former NHLers Paul and Mike, is a great thinker of the game, able to anticipate plays and see through traffic well. Although he is prone to occasional breakdowns in which he shrinks back into his net exposing his small physique, he has better athleticism than Fucale, and is one of the quickest goalies in the class. Comrie plays in Tri-City, with one of his predecessors being Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, and he had the privilege of working with Price during the lockout this past fall. One of the bigger concerns about Comrie, who put up great stats in limited time this year, is the hip condition that prematurely ended his season. If team doctors judge that it isn't a long-term concern, it wouldn't be surprising to see some teams with Comrie as the top goalie on their board.
Average goalie ranking: 2.8
Projected round selected: Mid to late second round
3. Tristan Jarry, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
6'2", 180 lbs, catches left. 27 GP, 18-7-0, 1.61 GAA, .936 sv%, 6 shutouts.
If Fucale is a positional wiz and Comrie is somewhere in the middle, Tristan Jarry is definitely the reflex king.The Oil Kings keeper has to work on his positioning and anticipation, but he has a great glove hand, handles the puck very well, and is able to cover for his mistakes, as evidenced by his sparkling numbers. Jarry tends to play deep in his net, modeling his game after former NHLer Marty Turco. He plays calm under pressure, and won player of the game at the Top Prospects Game, making all sixteen saves. Likely the biggest knock or worry at this point would be the fact that Jarry was, for all intensive purposes, a backup goalie this year behind Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit. As a result, the sample size is small, and he only saw 27 minutes of playoff action. Goalies are already far from a sure thing, and Jarry is definitely an upside pick.
Average goalie ranking: 2.5
Projected round selected: mid to late second round
4. Philippe Desrosiers, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
6'1", 185 lbs, catches left. 43 GP, 22-8-5, 3.07 GAA, .900 sv%, 1 shutout.
Desrosiers was Canada's starting goalie at the U-18s and was virtually flawless (5-0, 0.8, .970) in winning gold for his country, which really put the Quebec native on the map. As a rookie this year, he took the starting job with Rimouski and ran with it, posting the eighth highest save percentage in the league, and tops among rookies. He is a solid hybrid goalie with good lateral movement and rebound control, and the ability to to make big-time tough saves with his athleticism, while also being perhaps the most consistent goalie in the class. Reports differ on his puckhandling, as some think it's average and some feeling it needs serious work. His biggest weakness may be his footwork, as he tends to be a little too frantic in his movements, allowing him to be beat by quick shots low; that will need to be improved.
Average goalie ranking: 5
Projected round selected: late second to late third round
5. Juuse Saros, HPK (Jr. A SM-liiga)
5'10", 175 lbs, catches left. 37 GP, 24-13-0, 1.86 GAA, .933 sv%, 0 shutouts.
Let's get the baggage out of the way first. Saros is a very small goalie, small enough that if he were in the NHL right now, he would be the smallest in the league (behind the likes of Jaroslav Halak, Richard Backman, and Jhonas Enroth, although not by much). That said he still has room to grow, and his upside is tremendous. Saros posted incredible stats in the Finnish junior league, winning top goalie and leading his squad to a championship. He also backstopped Finland to an U-18 championship bronze, and won top goalie at the tournament (5-2, 1.86, .946) including stopping 49 of 50 shots in a game against the United States. Saros is incredibly agile, with great reflexes, and keeps his back straight to lower the impact of his stature. He has a good glove and solid lateral movement. He has a small issue with rebound control, although his athleticism can allow him to make second and third saves. Very much a project pick, Saros has intriguing upside if he can overcome his size.
Average goalie ranking: 6
Projected round selected: early third to late fourth round
6. Spencer Martin, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
6'2", 200 lbs, catches right. 46 GP, 17-21-4, 3.02 GAA, .906 sv%, 0 shutouts.
Spencer Martin is a polarizing prospect who had a rough year in Ontario, losing his starting job in the playoffs after a very strong first half of the season. He's a big goalie who exploits his size with solid positioning, staying square to shooters and utilizing a strong glove hand to make big saves. He's very competitive which can be both a positive and a negative, as he works hard and doesn't take shortcuts, but he is also hard on himself and it can hurt him mentally, as he tends to be rattled by allowing a bad goal and struggles to regain confidence. Besides the mental aspect, Martin's biggest flaws are likely his blocker hand, which will require work, and closing his five hole when moving post to post. He also occasionally overplays the pass and winds up beyond the net, or what I like the call the "Fleury Effect". Martin played well as the backup to Desrosiers at the U-18s (1.0, .941) in two starts.
Average goalie ranking: 4.8
Projected round selected: early third to late fourth
7. Eamon McAdam, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
6'2", 185 lbs, catches left. 31 GP, 17-9-3, 3.45 GAA, .896 sv%, 2 shutouts.
McAdam is a large, butterfly goalie who uses his size effectively to close down angles, challenge shooters, and force low-percentage shots. He communicates well with teammates on the ice, closes off the bottom of the net, and is solid moving post-to-post. Perhaps his biggest weakness is his consistency, as he has nights where he's on his game and making tough saves and others where he fights the puck, unable to grab anything cleanly, and leading scouts to forget why he's a highly ranked prospect. Perhaps his most notable performance was in the USHL Top Prospects Game, where he was named MVP and made one of the saves of the year, diving to his left to rob the opposing forward with his glove.
Average goalie ranking: 8
Projected round selected: early fourth to late fifth round
8. Austin Lotz, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
6'0", 185 lbs, catches left. 42 GP, 15-19-4, 3.37 GAA, .907 sv%, 1 shutout.
Austin Lotz overcame a slow start to register a very solid year playing out west. He's not the biggest goalie, and relies more on athleticism and reflexes over positioning. Scouts feel that his best characteristic may be his competitive edge, as he is constantly fighting for pucks, never giving up on a play, and as a result manages many spectacular desperation saves. Predictably, his biggest weakness is getting beat off his angle and allowing the occasional bad goal, when his lack of structure lets him down. He is also a victim of the Fleury Effect at times, which is something he will have to work on.
Average goalie ranking: 9.5
Projected round selected: early fourth to late sixth round
9. Marcus Hogberg, Linkoping U-20 (SuperElit)
6'3", 195 lbs, catches left. 11 GP, 8-2-0, 2.20 GAA, .914 sv%, 1 shutout.
Marcus Hogberg is a large, high-upside keeper who played most of the year in the Swedish juniors but also got the call in the senior league and performed admirably. He is a good positional goalie, able to challenge shooters when necessary but also play deep in his net to avoid the back-door play and use his size to cover the space. He is an intriguing physical specimen as he is quite mobile despite his size, reminiscent a little of Nashville's Pekka Rinne. His biggest weakness is likely the Fleury Effect, as well as general excess movement when down in the butterfly, which is a problem that many large goalies have since they rely on their big frame more than they should.
Average goalie ranking: 10.5
Projected round selected: fifth-sixth round
10. Evan Cowley, Wichita Falls Wildcats (NAHL)
6'3", 165 lbs, catches left. 50 GP, 22-24-4, 2.90 GAA, .900 sv%, 3 shutouts.
Evan Cowley is very much a project goalie playing in an unconventional league, with a lanky frame. Because of his long limbs, he is able to make saves that not many goalies can, but as a mostly self-taught goalie he tends to struggle with technique and shooters often find holes when he slides cross-crease. He does have good mental makeup, however, shaking off bad goals and never blaming his teammates. Don't expect him in the NHL any time soon, but he has intriguing potential.
Average goalie ranking: 10.25
Projected round selected: fifth-seventh round
It'll be fascinating to see how high Trevor Timmins wants to select a goalie. There's always the chance he likes Fucale enough to select him in the first round. Otherwise, I could see a local guy like a Desrosiers being the pick, as well as possibly a project like a Hogberg in the later rounds.