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Midterm under-25 prospect report: Goaltenders

The Montreal Canadiens are thin on goaltending prospects.

St. John's IceCaps /

Before the 2015-16 season began, Habs Eyes on the Prize ranked the Top 25 Prospects Under 25 in the Montreal Canadiens organization. With the 2015-16 season over half done, how have these prospects fared thus far, and are they meeting expectations? We review their progress and offer an early opinion on whether they will rise or fall in this summer's rankings.

Montreal is not very deep at the goaltender position, as only three goalies qualify for the next edition of the ranking. The goalies currently at the NHL level — Carey Price, Mike Condon, and Ben Scrivens — are all over 25 years of age.

New Arrival - Michael McNiven

Contract Status: RFA 2019-20, eligible to slide

Current team: Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

Michael McNiven is the youngest prospect in the Habs organization, turning 19 years old just recently, yet he earned a three-year entry-level contract after solid performances in both last summer's development camp and the rookie tournament in London prior to the NHL training camp.

He was reassigned to his junior team in the OHL, meaning that his entry-level contract will slide for at least another year before kicking in. He is the starter for the Owen Sound Attack; a middle-of-the-pack team playing in a very difficult division with the Erie Otters, Kitchener Rangers, and London Knights.

McNiven is holding his own against those top teams, with a 0.910 save percentage. He will likely stay in the junior ranks next season to complete his underage eligibility before joining the Habs' AHL affiliate for the 2017-18 season.

Given his solid play, he makes a good case to be ranked in the T25U25 next year.


N/R- Hayden Hawkey

Contract Status: Unsigned, Rights retained until August 15th, 2019

Current Team: Providence College (NCAA)

It's been a very slow season for the goaltender in his freshman season, playing very little due to a very strong performance from starting goalie Nick Ellis, who is posting a 0.927 save percentage.

This is far from an ideal situation for Hawkey, who may be seeing his development suffer as a result, but realistically he still has three more seasons of development before General Manager Marc Bergevin has to decide whether to sign him or not.

As it stands, given limited ice time, it's very likely that Hawkey will remain unranked in the next edition of the T25U25.


#22 Zachary Fucale

Contract Status: RFA 2018-19

Current Team: St. John's IceCaps (AHL)

Ranked at #22 in the Top 25 Under 25 prospect ranking, Zachary Fucale was the highest-ranking goalie on the list. For an organization that boasts the best goaltender in the world, this might not be such a problem. However, as this season has demonstrated, having a backup plan in place is actually quite important. Fucale is the heir apparent to the throne in Montreal.

This is Fucale's first professional season. Coming into training camp, he was fourth on the goaltending depth chart behind Price, Dustin Tokarski, and Condon. It was assumed that he would start by having backup duties for the St. John's IceCaps, or possibly even start games for the ECHL's Brampton Beast.

But Tokarski struggled mightily at both the NHL and AHL levels, and eventually found himself traded. The injury to Carey Price caused a shuffle throughout the organization, forcing Fucale into the starting role for the IceCaps and speeding up his development.

Fucale continues to be plagued by the same inconsistency that he demonstrated in the junior ranks. He struggles with maintaining his composure, and often allows a second (and even a third) goal quickly after being scored upon. In order to reach his NHL potential, he will need to work just as hard at strengthening his psyche as he will at improving his technical game.