No. 13: Marcus Högberg (Reader rank: 18, Last year: 20)
Swedish goalie Marcus Hogberg makes our list at the number 13 spot. It doesn’t bode well for the Ottawa Senators’ system that our staff’s pick for the best goalie (and 13th-best player) has never even played an exhibition game in North America. His only appearances with the Sens have come in four straight development camps. He did say his goal is to play in Ottawa soon, but it’s really hard to know what to make of a player who we hardly get to see.
What we do know is that Högberg was taken in the third round (78th overall) of the 2013 NHL entry draft. The Sens have elected to leave him in Sweden every season since, and it seems to be paying off:
He’s got a chance to play against adults in the SHL as the starter for Linköping HC, putting up save percentage of .917 and .911 over the last two years, starting 27 and then 28 games. He projects to be the starter again for Linköping this coming season, meaning he will have three full seasons as a starter in Sweden’s top league by age 22. The fact that he’s 6’5" and 209 lbs can’t hurt either.
The problem with the other goalies in the Sens’ system are well known. Craig Anderson is past the age at which most goalies see their numbers crater, and Andrew Hammond looks to be no more than an NHL backup. Chris Driedger was the more reliable option in Binghamton last year, but his ceiling projects to be an NHL backup. Matt O’Connor was highly sought after last offseason, but had a miserable start to his career. The fact that Sens fans even know the name of Joel Daccord, the 2015 7th-round pick who starts college hockey this fall and likely won’t look to get to the AHL for three years at least, should tell you all you need to know about the Sens’ depth at goaltender.
Both Driedger and O’Connor are RFAs at the end of the year, and unless both have great seasons, the team may look to cut bait with one. That likely opens the door for Högberg to cross the Atlantic and cement his place with the North American team. For now, we think he’s the most promising goalie prospect the Sens have.