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Ottawa Senators Draft Profiles: Goalies

Four goaltenders who stood out to us as potential Sens targets

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Rimouski Oceanic v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

In the last piece of our series looking at players for the 2019 NHL Draft, we decided to take a gander at the best goaltenders available.

The Ottawa Senators have drafted a goaltender in the 6th round in each of the last two drafts, and selected Joey Daccord in the 7th round back in 2015. While organizationally speaking, the position is as deep as it’s ever been at the NHL and AHL levels, the team may be looking to add another goaltender whose timelines may lineup with the others in the system. For example, adding a goaltender who’s two-to-four years out might not be the worst plan of action, as by that time, the pros (Hogberg, Gustavsson, and Daccord) will have been evaluated and either have moved on to another organization, or be in the NHL — leaving space in Belleville.

We both consider goaltending as our weakest area of analysis, so take the information presented in this article with an extra grain of salt. With many goalies developing later, and often available through the free agency route — either as past NHL backups, the NCAA, or Europe — we’re also mixed on the idea of spending draft picks on them. Nonetheless, there were a few that caught our eye.

Spencer Knight

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
U.S. National U18 Team USDP 6'4" 193 lbs 18 - 31 1 (NA Goalies)

If the U.S. National U18 Team wasn’t stacked enough, they just so happened to also have one of the best goalie prospects we’ve seen in years. Spencer Knight has the potential to be picked as high as in the top-15, something we haven’t seen since Jack Campbell in 2010. Even if he ends up being taken before pick #32, which is almost a guarantee, a first round goalie prospect is extremely rare.

It takes a lot to reach that level, and Knight’s resume has highlights. Playing in the USDP and USHL, he put up 91.3% and 90.3% save percentages respectively. Those numbers don’t really jump off the page, although considering the league’s high scoring nature, it’s less common to see save percentages over 90%. He shined at the World Under-18s, with a tournament-best 93.6% save percentage, stealing games left and right.

Knight is committed to play for Boston College next year, the team that recently produced Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko. And with Joseph Woll departing to join the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, the starting spot is wide open for Knight to take over right away.

What vaults Knight up most draft boards is that goalie scouts love his technical abilities. He has everything you would want: size (6’3”), agility, speed, very strong positioning, strong mentality... it’s hard to find a flaw in his game without doing some deep nitpicking.

Personally, I think Knight’s reputation has gotten a bit out of hand on some scouting lists, as although he’s a top goalie prospect, the development paths for netminders are extremely volatile. That shouldn’t mean teams should avoid drafting goalies at all costs — there’s still a lot of value based on his current play. I wouldn’t touch him in the first round, but whoever does will know that they’re getting the best goalie prospect in the 2019 draft.

Highlights

Colten Ellis

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Rimouski Océanic QMJHL 6'1" 188 lbs Late round 8 (NA Goalies)

One of the top goalies in the QMJHL this past year, Ellis backstopped the Rimouski Oceanic to a 5th place finish in the QMJHL regular season (91.0% save percentage), and a spot in the conference semifinals (91.9%). This kind of success stopping pucks isn’t new to Ellis, who previously won top goaltending honours in the NSMBHL, and had the best save percentage in NSMMHL before joining Rimouski last season. He was named to the Q’s All-Rookie Team and Second All-Star Team in his first season.

Ellis is a smaller goaltender in comparison to the players currently in the NHL, but makes up for his size with his athleticism. His lower body strength helps him move laterally very well, and he made a number of highlight reel stops on one-timers all season. His play was impressive enough to have him be the backup goaltender at the U18s last season — he wasn’t eligible this year as an older, October 2000 player.

His athleticism also worries some scouts, as, like Jonathan Quick, he may move too much, and may get caught by deceptive forwards who can regularly make feints with the puck. If drafted by the Sens, Pierre Groulx may work to calm his movement and help him track the puck on a more consistent basis to help him advance to the pro level.

Highlights

Isaiah Saville

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Tri-City Storm USHL 6'1" 198 lbs Late round 13 (NA Goalies)

Sometimes you just look at a goalie’s results, see he stops a lot of pucks, and want to take a chance. It’s hard to say too much more about Isaiah Saville, who has stopped pucks everywhere he’s been, yet is still seen as a mid-to-late-tier goalie prospect. NHL Central Scouting has him as the 13th ranked North American goalie in this draft, which is absurd.

Hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, Saville played this past season for the Tri-City Storm in the USHL. He posted a save percentage of 92.5% in 34 games, en route to being named the USHL Goaltender of the Year. He was also phenomenal at the World Junior A Challenge, where he stopped 94.4% of shots faced en route to the championship.

Saville isn’t extremely tall at 6’1”, but works mostly on his athleticism. The Storm were a strong team on defence with Ronnie Attard and Zachary Jones manning the blue line. He’s committed to join the University of Nebraska-Omaha next season, who were the weakest defensive team in the NCHC. To say it’ll be a challenging transition might be an understatement, but the expectations of a freshman goalie also shouldn’t be too high.

If Saville continues to keep the puck out like he did in the USHL, it’ll bode well for his future. He doesn’t seem to be getting the attention he deserves, which could possibly see some more mediocre CHL goalies taken ahead of him. Saville’s performance this season shouldn’t be overlooked — maybe he could be the Sens’ next Joey Daccord.

Highlights

Dustin Wolf

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Everett Silvertips WHL 6'0" 161 lbs Late round 12 (NA Goalies)

The Everett Silvertips continue to pump out goaltenders that dominate the Western Hockey League. Named to backstop the Silvertips after the Carter Hart era, Dustin Wolf has picked up where the Flyers prospect left off, leading the league in save percentage (93.6%) on his way to being named CHL Scholastic Player of the Year. As Hart’s backup, Wolf had the league’s second-best save percentage (92.8% in 20 games) last season. Your first thought may be, “well, maybe this is just Everett’s system” and while I can’t dispute that there’s something in the water in Everett, the team changed goaltending coaches last offseason. Shane Clifford (Hart), joined the Erie Otters as their goaltending coach, and was succeeded by James Jensen. Some of it is Wolf. Over in The Athletic ($), Corey Pronman noted: “The next highest save percentage ever among a goalie with 40-plus games at the same age was Leland Irving in 2006, with a 92.5%.”

How does Wolf do it? By all accounts, he’s extremely detail oriented, which manifests in a ‘tender that can read the play well, calm his mind in crucial situations, and recover quickly on the (rare) occasion that he lets in a shaky goal. Pronman noted in his piece that some scouts don’t think his game will translate to the NHL, as, at 6-foot, 161 pounds, NHL shooters will be able to find holes that they can shoot through.

With Spencer Knight taking most of the primo opportunities for the U.S. in net internationally, Wolf hasn’t had a lot of playing time against the best in the world. He was the U.S. starter at this year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup and ranked fourth among all starters in save percentage. An April 2001 birthday, adding Wolf to the Sens organization gives them a player that they can wait two years to make a decision on. Hogberg, Daccord, and Gustavsson will all be thoroughly evaluated at that time, and Kevin Mandolese has to be signed next season or else he’ll re-enter the draft. Timelines may work out if the Sens decide to make Wolf a pick in the later rounds of the draft.

Highlights


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