Part Three of our 2017 Draft series continues with a look at five top-ranked goaltenders who will likely hear their name called in Chicago on June 23rd and 24th.
We’re not generally fans of drafting goalies in the first round, as there seems to be good talent available in later rounds or as undrafted FAs. In fact, only 5 goaltenders have been drafted in the first round since 2012! That being said, given Craig Anderson’s age and the uncertainty of Chris Driedger after a rocky 2016-17 season, the Sens may want to leave the 2017 Draft with an insurance policy, and thus, use one of their top picks to acquire it.
In the Murray/Dorion regimes, the Sens drafted Robin Lehner with a high pick (46th overall, 2009), the unsigned Francois Brassard with a late pick (166th overall, 2012), and both of Belleville’s current ‘tenders Hogberg (78th overall, 2013) and Driedger (76th overall, 2012) with mid-round picks. Given this variety, we’ve decided to showcase some goaltenders who are ranked as first and second rounders, but also some mid/late-rounders to show that there are options throughout the draft.
Adam Ahman, HV71 J20
|2013-14||Västerviks IK J18||J18 Div.2||1||4.62||0.853|
|Västerviks IK||Division 1||0||-||-|
|2014-15||Västerviks IK U16||U16 Div.1||16||3.49||0.897|
|Västerviks IK J18||J18 Div.2||0||-||-||Qualification||2||3||0.895|
|Västerviks IK||Division 1||0||-||-||Kvalserien AS||0||-||-|
|2015-16||HV71 J18||J18 Elit||14||1.98||0.937|
|HV71 J18||J18 Allsvenskan||14||2.56||0.919|
|2016-17||HV71 J18||J18 Allsvenskan||1||0||1||Playoffs||2||4.63||0.879|
|Sweden U18 (all)||International-Jr||10||2.33||0.922|
One of the youngest options in this draft, Swede Adam Ahman is a top-ranked EU goaltender that has a good chance of being available for the Sens fourth round pick. Listed at 6’0, 163lbs, he doesn’t have the size of some of the other options on this list, but the fact that he’s been able to put up some great performances regardless shows that he has some talent. There isn’t much publicly available information on Ahman, but it appears that he’s an extremely mobile goaltender who relies on his quick reflexes to make stops. He could stand to work on refining his positioning to limit as many angles as possible to the shooter, in addition to gaining muscle mass to fill out his slight frame.
Ahman beat out Olle Eriksson Ek for the top starting job at the U18s — a positive — but had a rough outing overall, finishing 10th in tournament save percentage over 5 games. However, one should take his larger sample into account, and it’s here that Ahman shines. His .927 sv% in 34 U20 starts for HV71 wound up winning him the “best goaltender” award in the SuperElit (top Swedish U20 league), a feat also won by drafted ‘tenders Soderstrom (NYI), Ullmark (BUF), and Ottawa’s own Marcus Hogberg.
Fit with the Sens:
I’d expect a career trajectory for Ahman to be similar to Marcus Hogberg, who was drafted in 2013 but is having his first season in North America three years later. HV71 just won the SHL Championship, so I’m not sure that they’d be ready to put a U20 goalie in anytime soon, especially since U20 talent playing in the SHL is rare as it is. Thus, if Ahman does get drafted by the Sens, I’d wonder if they push him to apply for the CHL Import Draft to get to North America earlier. A plus of drafting Ahman is that if you think that he’s close in talent to the higher ranked DiPietro, Eriksson Ek, and Oettinger (all below), you could potentially get him for a mid-round pick instead of a first and second.
Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires
|2014-15||Sun County Panthers Mn Mdgt AAA||AHMMPL||21||2.12||0.916||Playoffs||9||1.89||0.933|
|Canada Red U17||WHC-17||5||1.75||0.929|
|2016-17||Canada U18||Hlinka Memorial||3||2||0.92|
Chosen as the first goalie in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, Michael DiPietro (not related to Rick DiPietro) has provided excellent value as the Windsor Spitfires’ starting goalie (the same team as Logan Brown). In his rookie season he posted the best GAA amongst all goalies (2.45), while also having impressive at the World Hockey Championships (SV% of .929). He’s not a particularly tall goalie standing at an even six feet, although he still has room to grow after just turning 18 earlier this month. He’s known to play an aggressive style for being slightly undersized, while also being praised for his athleticism.
As impressive as his rookie season was, DiPietro improved even further in 2016-17. He led the OHL in shutouts with six, and carried a heavy workload playing the fifth most minutes in the league (second most amongst draft eligibles). As you can see in the title image, DiPietro backstopped the Spitfires all the way to the Memorial Cup Championship, putting up an impressive .932 SV% in the process. He piled in the awards as well, being named the CHL’s most outstanding goaltender while also being named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team.
Fit with the Sens:
The Sens currently have a bit of a mid-tier goalie log jam that will be partially solved by not qualifying Matt O’Connor, although as for prospects in the U20 range, the space is completely unoccupied. The Sens using their first or second round pick on DiPietro could fix that. It’s also worth noting that although the Spitfires already employed goalie coach Paul Billing, longtime goalie coach for the Detroit Red Wings Jim Bedard was hired to help DiPietro with his season. He should be in good hands for his future development.
Olle Eriksson Ek, Farjestad BK J20
You may recognize the name from his older brother Joel Eriksson Ek (1st round pick for the Minnesota Wild), although Olle has been gaining recognition of his own with his steady development through the ranks of Sweden. Hockey runs through his whole family, in fact, as he’s surely been receiving great training from his father, who’s employed as the conditioning coach for Farjestad BK of the SHL. Olle has played in numerous junior tournaments throughout the years, winning bronze at the U17 World Hockey Championships and silver at the U18 World Junior Championships (despite not getting a start in the tournament). His size is around average for goalies at 6’2”, and is known as a good puckhandler.
Playing for Farjestad in the SuperElit division, Olle Eriksson Ek put up an impressive .924 SV%, which ranked 7th in the league, and second highest amongst first year draft eligibles (Adam Ahman was first). As already stated, Ahman’s success slightly got in the way of Eriksson Ek’s performance, reducing his playing time at the U18’s. Olle still managed to play two games, being reduced to an unimpressive .889 SV%. That shouldn’t stop Olle Eriksson Ek from going within the first four rounds of the draft, though, as his strong regular season performance has kept his draft stock in full bloom.
Fit with the Sens:
The Sens’ seem to find success with their Swedish goalies, with Robin Lehner fetching them Colin White in a trade and Marcus Hogberg having a season for the ages in the SHL. Could they possibly go for the three-peat?
Lassi Lehtinen, Lukko U20
|2013-14||Lukko U17||Jr. B2 SM-sarja||0||-||-|
|Lukko U16||Jr. C SM-sarja Q||6||-||0.871|
|Lukko U16||Jr. C Mestis||1||-||0.96|
|2014-15||Lukko U16||Jr. C SM-sarja Q||12||-||0.911|
|Lukko U16||Jr. C SM-sarja||31||-||0.922||Playoffs||11||-||0.939|
|Lukko U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||0||-||-|
|Finland U16 (all)||International-Jr||3||4.01||0.878|
|2015-16||Lukko U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||33||-||0.939||Playoffs||5||-||0.916|
|2016-17||Lukko U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||6||-||0.928|
|Lukko U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||36||1.91||0.936||Playoffs||11||2.16||0.924|
|Finland U18 (all)||International-Jr||7||-||0.925|
|2017-18||Lukko U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||-||-||-|
|2016-17||Finland U18||Hlinka Memorial||2||3.37||0.885|
|Sweden U18 (all)||International-Jr||11||2.93||0.894|
|Färjestad BK J20||SuperElit||-||-||-|
Although he isn’t projected to be drafted until the later rounds, Lassi Lehtinen has ‘steal’ written all over him. He may have been playing in lower tier leagues in Finland, but everywhere he’s gone, he’s found success. In 2014-15, playing Junior C, he was named to the league’s All-Star team and named top goalie, while backstopping his team to a bronze medal with a .939 SV%. The following season, playing Junior B, he was once again named to the All-Star team and named top goaltender, although he was also awarded the league MVP! He’s small for a goalie at 5’11”, although he makes up for it with his fantastic lateral movement.
Moving up to Junior A, the accolades continued to pile on, being named a first team All-Star, top goalie and once again top player. He’s the second goalie in league history to be named MVP (titled the Teemu Selanne award), with the first belonging to Predators goalie Juuse Saros in 2013. His SV% of .936 led the league, which warranted him a single game call-up to the professional stage (Liiga). He was the only U18 goalie to earn a game that year, the first to do so since 2012-13. Quite the impressive season for a goalie projected to go as late as he is.
Fit with the Sens
The biggest knock on Lehtinen is his size, although with the NHL gradually moving towards smaller equipment, tall goalies will be able to rely less and less on their equipment. He could provide excellent value for a late pick, and of course, there’s the whole track record of Finland producing some quality goaltending talent.
Jake Oettinger, Boston University
|2013-14||Lakeville North High||USHS||9||1.86||0.931||Playoffs||2||0.5||0.973|
|U.S. National U17 Team||USDP||29||2.57||0.916|
|U.S. National U18 Team||USDP||3||2.8||0.889|
|U.S. National U18 Team||USDP||37||2.38||0.908|
|2013-14||Lakeville North High||MN State||3||3.8||0.844|
Oettinger is the consensus #1 goaltender for the draft. At 6’4, 205lbs, he has the modern-day size that most NHL scouts look for in a goaltender, and he has the Team USA pedigree: starring for both the USNTDP USHL squad, the U18 team, and now Boston University. His size helps him over a ton of net, but he also seems to have good lateral mobility and is quick in his net. His coach at BU, David Quinn, has praised Oettinger’s mental toughness and focus, lending support to the notion that Oettinger has a low floor; most believe he’ll at least be a depth ‘tender at the NHL level. Oettinger himself has said that he’d like to work more on his feet, in addition to puck tracking.
Oettinger followed up his wonderful performance last season (U18s gold medal) with a top NCAA season, finishing the year with a .927 sv% in 35 starts. This was the third highest in his conference, where he was named to the second all-star team in addition to being an all-rookie team member, and the 9th highest save percentage in the NCAA. He made the USA’s U20 team as the third string goalie, and is expected to battle for the top spot in 2017-18.
Fit with the Sens:
Oettinger’s been linked to Ottawa, with some reading into the fact that goalie coach Pierre Groulx was part of the player interviews at the NHL combine — an event that generally features only top picks — but take that as you will. If the Sens do decide to take the U.S. netminder, the key will be deciding on when he turns pro. I’d expect at least 1 more season of NCAA play but Oettinger could technically be in college for three more seasons. This means that the Sens will likely need a stopgap for at least 1-2 years in between Anderson and Oettinger if he is in fact the goaltender of the future.
Which goalie would you like the Senators to select most?
This poll is closed
Olle Eriksson Ek
Other (leave a comment!)