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There's a certain risk when it comes to drafting a goaltender. Many believe the 'bust' factor poses a greater risk to goalies than it does forwards and defenceman. For the most part, it's true. However, many teams unwittingly rely on their scouting staff to find that diamond in the rough, stereotypically an 18 year old European. I'm not suggesting scouting staff are incompetent, in fact some are rather brilliant when it comes to this method, specifically the Nashville Predators. The Preds have found great success in drafting goalies outside of the first three rounds. In 2004, Pekka Rinne was selected 258th, Mazanec a 2012 6th rounder, and my personal favourite Juuse Saros who went 99th in 2013.
Though many goaltenders don't emerge as top 90 picks until the World Juniors come to a conclusion, there are still some highly touted guys out there right now. Here's my top 10 which features only first year eligible goaltenders.
1. Mackenzie Blackwood - Barrie Colts (OHL), 6'4 / 210 lbs
After starting 45 games in his rookie season and posting a .902 save percentage, Blackwood gained a lot of attention from scouts. Through 10 games this season, he has posted a 3.27 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Blackwood plays an aggressive style, and is often complimented on his mobility and quickness.
2. Daniel Vladar - HC Kladno (Czech2), 6'5 / 185 lbs
Vladar is a very raw prospect with a good frame to work with. At 6'5, many scouts are surprised at his athleticism and quickness. He takes away the bottom of the net and moves side to side effortlessly. He's not exactly a "project", but Vladar does need some work. His potential is what keeps him ahead of other goalies in this draft.
3. Matej Tomek - Topeka Road RoadRunners (NAHL), 6'3 / 180 lbs
Through 11 games, Tomek had posted a miraculous .944 save percentage and 1.25 GAA. He would be the topped ranked goaltender if he had recorded these numbers in the CHL or a top ranked Euro league, however it's tough to gauge quality of competition in the NAHL. If named to the Slovakian WJHC team, that will be a test to see if he can be the top ranked goalie in this draft.
4. Callum Booth - Quebec Remparts (OHL), 6'3 / 195 lbs
In his rookie season, Booth played 25 games recording an impressive 0.914 save percentage. Through 15 games this year, the 6'3 netminder has a .904 save percentage and a 3.04 GAA. Booth plays a technically sound game and isn't afraid to come out his net to challenge. He is in a similar position as Brandon Halverson was last year in the sense that he ranges from the 2nd to 4th round.
5. Ben Blacker - Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL), 5'9 / 170 lbs
In his rookie season in the USHL, Blacker has recorded an impressive .943 save percentage as well as a 1.94 GAA. Blacker had accepted the role as the 6th skater. He isn't afraid to get out of the net and move the puck and he is quite vocal in the crease. He is quite good down low and is an athletic goaltender. His mobility in the crease allows him to jump on rebounds quick. Could be a riser in this years draft.
6. Maxim Tretiak - Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL), 6'3 / 225 lbs
7. Markus Olsson - MODO J20 (SuperElit), 6'2 / 170 lbs
8. Ryan Bednard - Johnstown Tomahawks (NAHL), 6'4 / 180 lbs
9. Joren Van Pottelberghe - Linkoping (J18 Elit), 6'2 / 195 lbs
10. Connor Ingram - Kamloops Blazers (WHL), 6'1 / 210 lbs
- Rylan Parentau - Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
- Samuel Montembault - Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
- Luke Opilka- United States National Development Team (USHL)