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Report Card: Frederik Dichow needs to become more even in his performance

The goaltender had some quality games, but a large number of poor outings as well.

Montreal Canadiens Headshots

It was a season of up and downs for Frederik Dichow, the Danish goalkeeper whom Montreal Canadiens drafted last summer. He stood on his head some games and let in a few easy ones in others. He didn’t get to play much in the World Junior Division IA Championship where Denmark played to requalify for the main event, but on the other hand he did get an opportunity to experience the SHL when he was called up to Malmö’s A team, as a backup, for two games.

Malmö’s general manager, Patrik Sylvegård, said to Eyes On The Prize in December that “We are considering Dichow as a backup goalie in SHL next season, but he has more to prove.”

Will Dichow earn that role next year? The question lingers a bit as he didn’t prove it all in a season that was cut short due to a concussion and the coronavirus outbreak.

Elite Prospects

He played the fifth-most of all goalies in the opening stanza of the Swedish Under 20 league: 984 minutes over 17 games. He came away with seven wins and 10 losses on a Malmö team that didn’t settle into a rhythm. His .883 save percentage was nothing to write home about. Some of this is down to finding his game in a new league and some of it is down to a defence that sometimes was all over the place.

However, when the second portion of the season started, Dichow was positioned better and ready for the challenge. Now in a group with the bottom 10 teams in Swedish U20 hockey, Dichow stepped up his game and won nine out of the 16 games he played in, including a game when he came on in relief being 4-0 down. His save percentage rose to third-best in the league at .911, and both Malmö’s defence and Dichow seemed to have found the best way of working together. Malmö was solidified in a playoff spot when the season was called off, and Dichow didn’t get a chance to showcase himself in the playoffs.

Pluses

Dichow reads the game well, and can stand on his head when needed. These are all important qualities for a goalie in order to take the next step. He tracks the puck quite well, and his size really helps him in that situation. He is not slow for being a big goalie, and his agility and explosiveness benefit him enormously.

Minuses

In the games I have watched Dichow, I think he tends to go down into the butterfly position too early. This makes him a bit less explosive, and less able to react, while also leaving gaps up high for shooters. He has work to do on filling out his large frame as well in the next few off-seasons.

Discussion

While Dichow has stood on his head in a few games and sometimes saved Malmö, he has also looked a bit lost during certain games. One of the toughest aspects of Junior hockey for a goalkeeper is the mental part of the game, being able to bounce back after a call from the referees or after a situation where the goalie is at fault. In some instances he will also have to lead his defence and make sure they know what he wants and needs them to do.

Coach Blomqvist said that Dichow needs to learn how to be a professional, with all that entails. It seems to me that Dichow has taken the first step toward the hockey life that he has dreamt of his whole life. It takes time to develop as a goalie, and it is a good thing that Montreal holds Dichow’s rights for another three years and can let him develop slowly.

Grade: C-

The Gnome performed incredibly well in some instances, and that would warrant a higher grade. However, he also underperformed in some games, something that lowers his evaluation. It’s also true that he performed better against slightly inferior competition in the second part of the season, hence why I give him the minus after the grade.

A lot of his problems seem to be due to losing his focus, be it with himself or the game, but he needs to channel that frustration or disappointment into his effort and use it to enhance his focus rather than lose it.

What it all comes down to is that Dichow didn’t perform with consistency over a season. The peaks were high, and the valleys low. In order to get a flat C or higher, he will have to perform at the level we have seen in some games — at least with more regularity, but ideally over a full season.

He certainly has the potential to become a good goalie. It is my belief that he will play pro hockey in his career, the question is what level he will play in the end.

Relevant podcasts

Danish Under 20 National Team Coach Olaf Eller, about Frederik Dichow:

Frederik Dichow and Malmö Redhawks Under 20 coach Anton Blomqvist: