NHL Draft

Breaking down late-round goalie options at the 2021 NHL draft

The Calgary Flames are set in goal at the NHL level for the foreseeable future. Jacob Markstrom, by virtue of price tag alone, will start in goal for the Flames for the next several years. Luckily, he is also supremely talented, so it’s about more than just salary.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not acceptable to prepare down the timeline. With Dustin Wolf moving up to the AHL next year, the Flames’ goalie pipeline is going to be a bit thin. Tyler Parsons’ injury history makes his future with the team uncertain, and he is now 23 years old with only limited AHL experience and middling ECHL results. The Flames’ fourth-round pick last year, Daniil Chechelev, is coming off a strong season, but he is not yet under contract with the organization.

Artyom Zagidulin, 25 years old and with mixed results in the KHL, is currently awaiting his next contract, which might not even be with the Flames organization. All this is to say while the NHL starter position is set, the future is not exceptionally bright outside of Wolf. While the team shouldn’t use a high round pick to fill this void, it would be in their best interest to have another young goalies in the pipeline. It’s no guarantee Wolf pans out, and even if he does, there always needs to be organizational depth in goal.

Goalies are notoriously unpredictable, and the Flames have more pressing needs, but in the mid to late rounds, the success or failure of every pick largely comes down to luck, regardless of position. The team would be wise to select at least one goalie to help fill out the depth chart. Below, I’ve put together a list of draft-eligible goalies the team should consider later in the draft.

Tristan Lennox

Tristan Lennox is an interesting option at this year’s draft. The main reason why? He didn’t play a single game this year, signing with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies when the OHL season was cancelled, but never actually hitting the ice. Despite this, he is projected by some to be picked in the third or fourth round.

It speaks to how highly scouts regarded him heading into the season that he has maintained this fairly high projection without playing even once in the 2020–21 season. Even going back a year, his statistics were nothing special. He posted an 0.876 save percentage in 2019–20 on a successful Saginaw team.

Still, he has the raw tools scouts love. He’s big and athletic, and has a reputation for being calm under pressure—in particular when it comes to puck-handling. With the skills he has, coaching and experience could lead him to become a really strong goalie, something he’s shown flashes of.

If his lack of recent ice time scares away teams and he falls into the fourth round, he could be a good pick for the Flames. With no hurry to have an NHL-ready goalie, the team is in a good position to patiently develop Lennox’s raw talent into a strong goalie.

2018–19OJHLBrantford 99ers11.918
2018–19OHLSaginaw Spirit15.907
2019–20OHLSaginaw Spirit 33.876

Thomas Milic

Thomas Milic of the WHL’s Seattle Thinderbirds has a lot of promise. Not ranked very highly by most scouts, Milic is a bit of a smaller goalie who could fall to the sixth or even seventh round. If he were a few inches taller, I suspect that projection would have been much higher.

Playing only nine games due to the pandemic, Milic managed to put up solid numbers in the WHL. He also played two games with Canada’s U18 team, where he allowed only one goal between his two appearances. With numbers better than some goalies projected to be picked ahead of him, there is the chance Milic outperforms his draft position.

It’s also promising to see a steady improvement in his game. He clearly took a step forward between the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons, and didn’t see too much of a drop off when jumping up to the WHL level.

2018–19CSSHL U18Burnaby Winter Club Prep20.908
2019–20CCSHL U18Burnaby Winter Club Prep17.946
2020–21WHLSeattle Thundderbirds9.913

Patrik Hamrla

Hamrla caught my eye for one big reason. He plays in a Czech pro league. Nostalgic for the days of David Rittich, I looked further. As it turns out, Hamrla has actually broken into the pro leagues at a younger age than Rittich did. This year, Hamrla not only played in the second tier pro league in the Czech Republic, he also played in the top league, and a few games in the under-20 league there.

Unsurprisingly, his results differed across the three levels. And, while his .881 save percentage across 6 games in the top division is nothing exciting, it speaks volumes that he was there at all. Should he be available for the Flames in the sixth round, he could help fill in the depth chart.

His big weakness is being a bit too active in his net, a knock on many young goalies. Another critique heard about him is a bit of over eagerness when playing the puck—again, a tendency that is fairly common in young goalies.

2020–21Czech U20HC Karlovy Vary4.916
2020–21CzechHC Energie Karlovy Vary6.881
2020–21Czech 2HC Banik Sokolov 3.921
2020–21Czech2SK Kaden3.826

Considering the strength of competition Hamrlik has faced, he could becomes one of the better goalies selected this year.

Taylor Gauthier

Taylor Gauthier is a bit different than the other goalies mentioned so far for a few reasons. At 20 years old, age is is the first big separator. Passed over in 2020 and 2019, it looks like it could finally be Gauthier’s turn to hear his name called. Another big difference? Gauthier catches with his right hand—a rarity.

At 6’2″, size is not a concern (though not being drafted two years in a row is), as his play over the last few seasons has been solid. This year, he was even selected to play for Team Canada at the World Juniors, although he never hit the ice for the team.

If Gauthier can continue to improve, he too could be a good goalie to take a flyer on in later rounds. He is projected to go very late in either the sixth or seventh round, but he is considered a hard worker who will keep working to improve his game regardless of draft position. Goalies are so difficult to project, why not take a chance on one of the WHL’s more consistent goalies over the last few seasons?

2018–19WHLPrince George Cougars55.899
2019–20WHL Prince George Cougars 50.917
2020–21WHL Prince George Cougars 15.915

Rasmus Korhonen

Rasmus Korhonen is simply enormous. Standing 6’5″ at just 18, he definitely has a size advantage over his peers in this draft. Playing for Assat in Finland, he played most of his games in the Fininsh U20 league this season, but also made a brief appearance in the pro ranks.

In junior, he played well, posting a .908 through 17 games. His two games at the pro level went poorly, but just like Hamrla above, the fact that he was trusted in the pro ranks at all says a lot about the potential he has. He is also not projected to be picked until quite late and could be another worthwhile option for the Flames.

2019–20U18 SM-sarjaIlves15.912
2019–20U20 SM-liigaIlves 24.877
2020–21U20 SM-sarjaAssat17.908

Saving up for the future

None of the goalies on this list are surefire future NHLers like their much higher projected first or second round peers, but among the middle and late round draft-eligible goalies, they are more than worthy of being targeted. With the Flames focused on their more pressing needs in the early rounds, these late round goalies could be nice additions to the depth chart moving forward.

Be sure to follow along with The Win Column as the draft unfolds over the next two days to find out if any of these goalies are taken by Calgary!

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