17. Joey Daccord (Reader Rank: 15, Last Year: 21)
In 2018, Daccord just cracked the top-25 with a decent sophomore season in the NCAA. The following season Daccord took collegiate hockey by storm earning his way to the cusp of our top-20. Now, coming off a solid professional rookie campaign, Joey barely missed the top-15 in what may be the deepest pool of prospects the Senators have ever had. With Marcus Högberg now in the NHL, and having surpassed Filip Gustavsson on this annual ranking, Joey looks like Ottawa’s number one goaltending prospect (albeit with the aforementioned Gustavsson and a few other youngsters closing in). The question remains the same for Daccord every off-season among Senators fans: can he take the next step?
Hailing from Massachusetts and clocking in at 6’2” 197 lbs., Daccord, as you may recall, went 199th overall to the Senators in the 2015 NHL entry draft (his second year of draft eligibility). He committed to a completely unknown Arizona State University program where he backstopped some defensively thin teams from 2016-19. As we have documented on this site before, Joey carried ASU to their first tournament action in 2018-19 and became the first ASU alumnus to make it to the NHL when he signed with the Senators that spring. Daccord received a nomination for the Mike Richter Award for NCAA goaltending and for the Hobey Baker. Greg Powers, the coach who recruited Daccord to ASU, said following that season, “That’s the difference in Joey this year. He’s always had the technique and talent and fundamentals. It’s just his brain and maturity catching up to his talent. Now he has all three.”
So, as one of the voters who had Daccord as my number-one ranked net-minder, I feel compelled to offer some critical analysis of Joey’s development from the NCAA to the AHL. In summary, Daccord has patience to his game, he tracks loose pucks really well, he has a skater’s eye for reading the play, and he loves to make first passes (almost like a third defender). The video below captures a lot of those skills. At the 0:58 mark, Belleville find themselves on the wrong end of an odd-man rush and the only defender back somewhat mistimes the play. If you freeze the video, Utica has Belleville dead to rights and Daccord somehow prevents a goal with his patience, vision, and good lateral movement:
The next video, courtesy of the ever valuable Sens Prospects, has a lot of the same footage but I want to focus on the “ender.” It’s another clip that shows up in both highlight packs but SP took note to close with it as a real five-alarm save. You can catch it at the 1:54 mark. I find it remarkable simply because there are so few of these types of saves when you watch Daccord. My explanation: Joey rarely gets caught out of position. Ben Scrivens once wrote that great goalies don’t like to get featured in highlight packs making those types of saves because it means they weren’t where they needed to be in the first place. I think about that a lot with Daccord. This is why I rank Daccord above someone like Gustavsson who makes a lot more highlight reel saves yet has a lower overall save percentage.
Joey understands offensive systems, he identifies the trigger-man, and he’s not overly aggressive, usually staying within a foot of the crease. He may not have the fastest reflexes of Ottawa’s prospects in net but he plays a cerebral game and that sets him apart along with his fancy stick-work. But don’t take my word for it. Courtesy of Dobber: “[Daccord] spreads out well and plays the top of the paint on most shots, has excellent balance in his stance and lateral movements. He’s got great instincts, reads and reacts very well.”
Following his whirlwind final season at ASU and having established himself as a professional with a 91.5 save percentage in his rookie season with AHL Belleville, Daccord did an interview with our SB Nation sibling site for the Sun Devils that had some really illuminative thoughts. On going pro:
Another big factor was that I felt like my game was ready. After three years of college, I had my stats and wins, and improved every season. I felt like I played a very pro style of game my junior year and was ready to make the jump.
And on his style as a “third defender”:
My job is just to get the puck in the defensemen’s hands as quick as possible and get it out of the zone. The trapezoid has limited how adventurous and aggressive I get (laughs). It’s not as fun but it doesn’t matter. It’s just about making the easiest play and helping our team. It was a little bit of an adjustment at the beginning of getting used to the trapezoid, but I’ve gotten used to it.
I also found it reassuring to read that on his role in a tandem with Gustavsson, Daccord said: “It doesn’t really feel like it’s a competition in the sense that we are all buddies.” Joey has certainly made a significant contribution to Belleville’s establishment as one of the best teams in the AHL. After recently signing a three-year extension with the Senators, Daccord naturally got some praise from Ottawa’s GM as Pierre Dorion explained:
“He’s a big, athletic goalie and an excellent puck handler who exudes the necessary confidence to compete at the highest level. He’s become a valuable asset within our pool of goaltending prospects.”
And that brings me back to the question I opened up with, can Daccord take the next step? From 2015-18, Joey was at the back of our minds. In 2019 he exceeded all of our expectations but we had to accept the possibility that that season was something of an aberration. In 2020, Daccord proved he’s no fluke with an exceptional rookie season at the professional level. I feel confident saying that with one more season on this current trajectory, Joey can confirm his status as a future-NHL net-minder and possibly the Senators’ goaltender of the future. I often have to remind myself that Daccord only made his AHL debut a year ago.
Joey Daccord joined the #BellevilleSens in impressive fashion on this date last year, backstopping the Sens to a 3-1 win over Hershey with 26 saves in his @TheAHL debut! #fortheB pic.twitter.com/CSRmUg1KAX— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) November 30, 2020