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Atlantic Forecast Vol. 1

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Mapping the division’s goaler landscape

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

I first starting thinking about this concept when Melnyk made his infamous unparalleled success statement. As soon as the organization officially timestamped their rebuild, I started wondering what the division might look like over the next five years. After all, no matter how good of a prospect pool Ottawa creates, they still have to keep the pace with their rivals. Now, it should go without saying that there are an infinite number of moving parts involved: salary cap, trades, drafts, expansion, expiring contracts, and injuries among others.

Just like John Donne said though, no man is an island, and as promising as the future seems in Ottawa, the seven other teams in the Atlantic division have stockpiled young talent too. With this series, I would like to give you an idea of what the future of the division could look like, starting this week with backstops. Goalies seemed to me the best (because of the manageable amount of data) and worst (because of the volatility of goalie stats) place to start. I consider everything here subject to change and you may really have to relax your eyes before the picture comes into focus.

Just to explain my methodology here, I focused on prospects 25-and-under as opposed to veterans. For all goalies, I used all-situation save percentage at the midway mark of this current season. Ideally with more resources at my disposal I would rank all players across their entire leagues and across seasons instead of limiting myself to to this lone season. With that in mind, let’s start with what we know best.

Ottawa Senators

Assuming Craig Anderson (2020) and Anders Nilsson (2021) move on by the end of their current contracts, Marcus Hogberg profiles as heir to the throne in the nation’s capital. And, at age 25, Hogberg’s projected prime years line up almost exactly with Melnyk’s promised window of contention this decade. Ottawa’s depth chart looks like:

  • Marcus Hogberg: 90.1% in the NHL and 89.7% in the AHL
  • Joey Daccord: 91.4% in the AHL and 90.1% in the ECHL
  • Filip Gustavsson: 88.4% AHL
  • Kevin Mandolese: 2nd in QMJHL among qualifiers at 92%
  • Mads Sogaard: Failed to crack the top 15 among WHL goalies at 90%

While they never received the type of hype that prospects like Gustavsson and Sogaard earned given their daft pedigree (both second-rounders), Daccord (seventh round) and Mandolese (sixth round) remain my dark horses in the Senators system to challenge Hogberg given their numbers. All of Gustavsson, Sogaard, and Mandolese have several years to put it together. In the meantime Ottawa could do much worse than a young tandem of Hogberg and Daccord.

Boston Bruins

Much to my surprise, Boston only has Tuukka Rask, age 32, under contract until the end of next season and from what I’ve seen putting this article together, they may have to consider letting their current franchise goalie walk away when the time comes. Boston also has Jaroslav Halak and Maxime Lagace on affordable professional contracts for this season for depth. In terms of the future in Boston’s crease, the Bruins have:

  • Daniel Vladar: 93.5% AHL
  • Jeremy Swayman: 93.6% NCAA
  • Kyle Keyser: 89% AHL

With Swayman, age 21, putting up a 93.6% through 22 NCAA games and Vladar, age 22, rocking a 93.5% for Providence in the AHL, Boston looks like a much more formidable opponent in the Atlantic division over the next five years if they choose to tap into that young potential as opposed to overpaying for Tuukka Rask’s mid- to late-thirties.

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo, in the short term, has a rather straightforward goalie situation with veterans Andrew Hammond :( and Carter Hutton coming off the books this year and next. At age 26, Linus Ullmark currently holds court for the Sabres and should continue to do so for at least the next couple seasons if he continues to provide a respectable 91% as a full-time NHLer. In terms of prospective talent in the crease, Buffalo should make Ottawa somewhat nervous. And as a Senators fan who considered Dominik Hasek the boogeyman as a child, it really pains me to inform you that Buffalo may have another Sens-killer waiting in the wings. Behold the horror:

  • Jonas Johansson: 92.4% AHL
  • Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen: 91.7% ECHL
  • Erik Portillo: Tied for 5th in USHL at 91.2%

At age 24, Johansson is hot on the heels of Ullmark. The Belleville Senators should get familiar with Jonas in the AHL as they will likely continue squaring off against both Johansson and Ullmark in Ottawa over the next few years. Luukkonen ranks among the top goaltending prospects in all of hockey and if he keeps up his current pace of development, he could start tormenting us in Ottawa right in time to spoil our projected window of contention. At just 19 years of age, the jury remains out on Erik Portillo.

Detroit Red Wings

I don’t envy myself writing this one as Detroit currently hasten goalies in their system and not without a few duds. At age 35 and with an expiring contract, Jimmy Howard finds himself in a situation not unlike Craig Anderson’s. The Red Wings have veterans Johnathan Bernier and Calvin Pickard backing up Howard at the professional level and then we get into the seven prospects:

  • Victor Brattstrom: 7th in Allsvenskan at 91.2%
  • Joren Van Potelberghe: 11th in NLA at 91.2%
  • Filip Larsson: 84.3% AHL and 88.6% ECHL
  • Kaden Fulcher: 83.1% ECHL
  • Keith Petruzzelli: 91.5% NCAA
  • Jesper Eliasson: 19th in Allsvenskan at 89.7%
  • Carter Gylander: 1st in the AJHL at 92.6%

Detroit’s two most intriguing prospects bookend that list with a lot of mediocrity in the middle. At age 22, Brattstrom could come over to North America in the the coming months as Detroit must offer a contract or lose his rights this summer. Petruzzelli has a respectable 91.5% in the NCAA this season while Eliasson and Gylander look promising but require several more years of seasoning. Despite lacking a clear-cut heir apparent like Marcus Hogberg, Detroit’s pipeline reminds me the most of Ottawa’s with a lot of names across several leagues as opposed to one or two high-profile prospects.

Florida Panthers

The Cats have a bit of everything going on. Bloggers have discussed Sergei Bobrovsky’s mammoth $70,000,000 contract that runs through 2026 (and coincidentally through Ottawa’s ‘years of unparalleled success’). At age 31, and quickly declining in performance, Bobrovsky may serve as the one of the NHL’s most expensive stopgaps until the young Cats come of age. A familiar fellow has backed up Bobrovsky recently and tops off Florida’s depth chart:

  • Chris Driedger: 93.5% in the NHL and 93.8% AHL
  • Philippe Desrosiers: 91.9% AHL
  • Samuel Montembeault: 88.9% in the NHL and 91.6% AHL
  • Ryan Bednar: 91% ECHL
  • Spencer Knight: 93.7% NCAA

It turns out Ottawa may have passed on a good one in Chris Driedger. Their former third-round selection has enjoyed quite the renaissance season down south and he could step into a starting role depending how dire the Bobrovsky situation becomes. Overall, Florida’s goalie depth chart may impress me the most of any in the division. It doesn’t hurt that their youngest netminder may arguably hold the title of most-hyped goalie prospect since Carey Price. In his freshman season in the NCAA, Spencer Knight already has an exceptional 93.7 sv% at age 18(!). Everything I said about Luukkonen applies for Knight and his potential to torment the Senators for years to come while the other four prospects on this list have numbers over 90% in the minors.

Montreal Canadiens

Much like Bobrovsky, Carey Price and his mastodonic contract should determine what happens in Montreal’s crease in the coming years. With six years and $63,000,000 left on the books for the 32-year-old, Montreal with have to swallow a very bitter pill to pave the way for a younger ‘tender. The Canadiens have Keith Kinkaid under contract for the remainder of this season and Charlie Lindgren until 2021 in backup capacities at the professional level. In the pipeline, Montreal has:

  • Michael McNiven: 90.9% ECHL
  • Cayden Primeau: 93.1% NHL and 90.2% AHL
  • Frederik Nissen Dichow: Tied for 20th in Superelit at 87.8%

With a very shallow pool to work with, we can almost guarantee that Ottawa will predominantly see a Price and Primeau tandem in the coming years as McNiven doesn’t really seem like a prospect and Nissen has several years of development ahead before Montreal knows what they have in the young Dane.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning have their starter locked up through 2028 in Andrei Vasilevskiy. Meanwhile they have Mike Condon’s dead contract on the books for the remainder of this season and Scott Wedgewood’s somewhat alive contract for the purpose of professional depth. Curtis McElhinney will back up Vasilevskiy until the end of 2021. The Lightning’s youth movement looks like this:

  • Andrei Vasilevskiy: 91.5% NHL
  • Spencer Martin: 88.8% AHL and 91.5% ECHL
  • Kristian Oldham: N/A NCAA
  • Ty Taylor: 89.5% NCAA
  • Magnus Chrona: 91.7% NCAA
  • Hugo Alnefelt: 92.3% SHL (would qualify for top five if he had ten or more games played)

Tampa Bay took something of an unorthodox approach signing Vasileskiy to his BIG contract in his twenties (many netminders don’t get to cash in until their thirties). Ottawa can realistically expect to face Vasilevskiy as the Lightning’s starting goalie for the foreseeable future as Tampa Bay’s two most intriguing prospects in the crease, Chrona and Alnefelt, don’t have to sign professional contracts before 2022 and 2023 respectively and Vasilevskiy has tied up the Lightning’s goaltending budget for the better part of the decade.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Much like my misconceptions about Boston, I had not reckoned that Frederik Andersen had entered his thirties and that his contract expires after next season. Given Toronto’s cap situation, I wouldn’t feel surprised to see the Leafs part ways with Andersen after 2021 and roll the dice on one of their younger, more affordable goalies. For this season at least, Toronto has veteran Michael Hutchinson in a backup role and knocking at the proverbial door they have 26-year-old Kasimir Kaskisuo. In the minors and juniors, Toronto has:

  • Ian Scott: N/A AHL
  • Joseph Woll: 89.2% AHL
  • Zach Bouthillier: 20th in QMJHL at 89.4%

None of the numbers associated with Toronto’s young goalies inspire a tonne of confidence and that includes Kaskisuo. With Andersen’s free agency looming and a shallow talent pool at their disposal, I would consider Toronto’s situation in the crease the most tenuous of any team in the division heading into the next decade of hockey in the Atlantic.

All stats and figures courtesy of capfriendly and elite prospects.

Goalers

Name Affiliation Drafted overall Age League Games Sv% Contract Cap hit (in millions)
Name Affiliation Drafted overall Age League Games Sv% Contract Cap hit (in millions)
Condon, Mike Lightning N/A 29 AHL 4 87.6 UFA 2020 2.400
Daccord, Joey Senators 199 23 AHL 11 91.4 RFA 2020 0.925
Desrosiers, Philippe Panthers 54 24 AHL 17 91.9 RFA 2020 0.700
Driedger, Chris Panthers 76 25 AHL 14 93.8 UFA 2021 0.850
Gustavsson, Filip Senators 55 21 AHL 15 88.4 RFA 2021 0.762
Hammond, Andrew Sabres N/A 31 AHL 22 90.2 UFA 2020 0.700
Hogberg, Marcus Senators 78 25 AHL 15 89.7 RFA 2021 0.700
Howard, Jimmy Red Wings 64 35 AHL 2 91.7 UFA 2020 4.000
Hutchinson, Michael Maple Leafs 77 29 AHL 3 94.2 UFA 2020 0.700
Johansson, Jonas Sabres 61 24 AHL 18 92.4 RFA 2020 0.759
Kaskisuo, Kasimir Maple Leafs N/A 26 AHL 19 91.1 RFA 2020 0.675
Keyser, Kyle Bruins N/A 20 AHL 6 89.0 RFA 2022 0.733
Kinkaid, Keith Canadiens N/A 30 AHL 7 89.5 UFA 2020 1.750
Lagace, Maxime Bruins N/A 27 AHL 22 91.7 UFA 2020 0.700
Larsson, Filip Red Wings 167 21 AHL 7 84.3 RFA 2022 0.837
Lindgren, Charlie Canadiens N/A 26 AHL 16 89.3 UFA 2021 0.750
Martin, Spencer Lightning 63 24 AHL 20 88.8 RFA 2020 0.700
Montembeault, Samuel Panthers 77 23 AHL 9 91.6 RFA 2020 0.709
Pickard, Calvin Red Wings 49 27 AHL 24 90.2 UFA 2021 0.750
Primeau, Cayden Canadiens 199 20 AHL 18 90.2 RFA 2022 0.881
Scott, Ian Maple Leafs 110 21 AHL N/A N/A RFA 2022 0.806
Vladar, Daniel Bruins 75 22 AHL 12 93.5 RFA 2020 0.729
Wedgewood, Scott Lightning 84 27 AHL 14 89.1 UFA 2020 0.700
Woll, Joseph Maple Leafs 62 21 AHL 16 89.2 RFA 2021 0.800
Gylander, Carter Red Wings 191 18 AJHL 24 92.6 ELC 2024 N/A
Brattstrom, Victor Red Wings 160 22 Allsvenskan 32 91.2 ELC 2020 N/A
Eliasson, Jesper Red Wings 84 19 Allsvenskan 15 89.7 ELC 2022 N/A
Bouthillier, Zach Maple Leafs 209 20 CHL 30 89.4 ELC 2020 N/A
Mandolese, Kevin Senators 157 19 CHL 23 92.0 ELC 2020 N/A
Sogaard, Mads Senators 37 19 CHL 25 90.0 ELC 2021 N/A
Bednard, Ryan Panthers 206 22 ECHL 22 91.0 RFA 2021 0.818
Daccord, Joey Senators 199 23 ECHL 12 90.1 RFA 2020 0.925
Fulcher, Kaden Red Wings N/A 21 ECHL 2 83.1 RFA 2022 0.733
Keyser, Kyle Bruins N/A 20 ECHL 1 81.8 RFA 2022 0.733
Larsson, Filip Red Wings 167 21 ECHL 3 88.6 RFA 2022 0.837
Luukkonen, Ukko-Pekka Sabres 54 20 ECHL 20 91.7 RFA 2020 0.779
Martin, Spencer Lightning 63 24 ECHL 4 91.5 RFA 2020 0.700
McNiven, Michael Canadiens N/A 22 ECHL 1 90.9 RFA 2020 0.682
Vladar, Daniel Bruins 75 22 ECHL 1 90.9 RFA 2020 0.729
Chrona, Magnus Lightning 152 19 NCAA 18 91.7 ELC 2022 N/A
Knight, Spencer Panthers 13 18 NCAA 17 93.7 ELC 2023 N/A
Oldham, Kristian Lightning 153 22 NCAA N/A N/A ELC 2021 N/A
Petruzzelli, Keith Red Wings 88 20 NCAA 21 91.5 ELC 2021 N/A
Swayman, Jeremy Bruins 111 21 NCAA 22 93.6 ELC 2021 N/A
Taylor, Ty Lightning 214 20 NCAA 6 89.5 ELC 2022 N/A
Andersen, Fred Maple Leafs 87 30 NHL 35 91.4 UFA 2021 5.000
Anderson, Craig Senators 77 38 NHL 21 89.7 UFA 2020 4.750
Bernier, Jonathan Red Wings 11 31 NHL 28 90.4 UFA 2021 3.000
Bobrovsky, Sergei Panthers N/A 31 NHL 34 89.6 UFA 2026 10.000
Driedger, Chris Panthers 76 25 NHL 7 93.5 UFA 2021 0.850
Halak, Jaroslav Bruins 271 34 NHL 19 92.3 UFA 2020 2.750
Hogberg, Marcus Senators 78 25 NHL 9 90.1 RFA 2021 0.700
Howard, Jimmy Red Wings 64 35 NHL 17 88.4 UFA 2020 4.000
Hutchinson, Michael Maple Leafs 77 29 NHL 11 89.2 UFA 2020 0.700
Hutton, Carter Sabres N/A 34 NHL 17 89.2 UFA 2021 2.750
Kaskisuo, Kasimir Maple Leafs N/A 26 NHL 1 84.2 RFA 2020 0.675
Kinkaid, Keith Canadiens N/A 30 NHL 6 87.5 UFA 2020 1.750
Lindgren, Charlie Canadiens N/A 26 NHL 2 90.8 UFA 2021 0.750
McElhinney, Curtis Lightning 176 36 NHL 11 90.4 UFA 2021 1.300
Montembeault, Samuel Panthers 77 23 NHL 7 88.9 RFA 2020 0.709
Nilsson, Anders Senators 62 29 NHL 20 90.8 UFA 2021 2.600
Pickard, Calvin Red Wings 49 27 NHL 2 81.8 UFA 2021 0.750
Price, Carey Canadiens 5 32 NHL 37 90.4 UFA 2026 10.500
Primeau, Cayden Canadiens 199 20 NHL 2 93.1 RFA 2022 0.881
Rask, Tuukka Bruins 21 32 NHL 27 92.5 UFA 2021 7.000
Ullmark, Linus Sabres 163 26 NHL 28 91.0 RFA 2020 1.325
Vasilevskiy, Andrei Lightning 19 25 NHL 33 91.5 UFA 2028 9.500
Van Pottelberghe, Joren Red Wings 110 22 NLA 17 91.2 Indefinite N/A
Alnefelt, Hugo Lightning 71 18 SHL 9 92.3 ELC 2023 N/A
Nissen Dichow, Frederik Canadiens 138 18 Superelit 19 87.8 ELC 2023 N/A
Portillo, Erik Sabres 67 19 USHL 17 91.2 ELC 2023 N/A