Nation Network Prospect Profiles: A Statistical Look at Draft Eligible Goalies

are Voodoo.” 

This is a mantra repeated at one point or another by nearly anyone within the hockey analytics
community.  While a definite stretch of the truth, there’s some truth to it since goalies
are extremely hard to predict. They are subject to small sample sizes including
a full season of play, and nearly every goalie has their own unique development

of the difficulty in predicting goalies from such a young age it is
oft-suggested to not use your draft picks on a goalie.  You can often select a cheap, average goalie
from free agency, European leagues or the NCAA. 
Because of the difficulty and the better options elsewhere I am oft in
this camp.

downside of not drafting a goaltender is that you are not likely to find an
elite goaltender such as the Roberto Luongos, Carey Prices, or Henrik Lundqivst’s of the world.  Should
your team try and draft a goalie, despite the area being harder to predict,
there are still some analytical rules you should follow.

Let’s take a look at a few of 2015’s most interesting goalie prospects after the jump.

Data Scouting Rules-of-Thumb

We talked
about the idea of using statistical analysis to judge goaltenders in previous
and the rules stay the same. 
The general rule of thumb for goaltenders follows similar idea to players
in that they need to
excel against their peers at a younger age if they wish to have a chance of
success against the best league in the world

The rule
of thumb for goaltenders, if you wish to maximize your success in drafting one,
should be to maximize the following:

  • Highest
    Save %: The better a goalie performs at a lesser league, the more likely they
    are to succeed in the NHL. 
  • Largest
    Sample Size: We know how save percentage is influenced by variance in small
    sample size, look for goalies with the most shots again.
  • History
    of success: 1 year is rarely enough data to judge a goalie on.  The more years of success that a goalie has
    had, the more likely their save percentage is their true norm.
  • Better
    Leagues: The tougher a league a goaltender is playing in, with older and
    stronger talent, the tougher it becomes for a young player to succeed.  E.g. a U18 player playing in a senior league
    (i.e. SHL, KHL etc) and can produce excellent numbers of a long term, has a
    better chance of success.
  • Youth:
    The younger a goalie is who is succeeding bodes well as they still have lots of
    room for physical, personnel and skill development.
  • Size:  The bigger the goaltender the more likely
    they are to succeed.  Few, if any,
    current NHL goaltenders are below 6’0”.


We took
these rules and applied them to a number of goaltenders available in the
2014-2015 draft.  We limited ourselves to
just goaltenders ranked by CSS in North America and Europe.  We included their size, their games played,
their goals against average, save percentage and their save percentage relative
to the median and expressed as a z-score so we can compare how the fared
relative to their leagues.

There is
much more data we wish we could have had that would tell us more about
goaltenders such as shots against, shots against per game, Goals Saved Above
Average and Quality Starts.  Some of this
data can be calculated in more popular leagues (such as the CHL) but becomes
less available in the more fringe leagues. 

remember, given how hard goalies are to predict, it’s best to work with your
scouts and ensure the goalie you like has good statistics and has good reviews
by your scouting staff.  Technique can
always be refined, but poor results are unlikely to indicate future good ones.

American Goaltenders

Rank Name Team League Height (Inch) Weight GP GAA Save % Z-Score Rel Median
15 MORRIS, CALE WATERLOO USHL 72.75 195 28 1.85 0.937 0.95 3.60%
4 HILL, ADIN PORTLAND WHL 75.5 198 46 2.81 0.921 0.84 2.50%
5 TOMEK, MATEJ TOPEKA NAHL 74.5 180 33 1.83 0.928 0.59 2.60%
30 BOW, LANDON SWIFT CURRENT WHL 76 214 66 3.14 0.911 0.51 1.50%
26 PERESSINI, LUCAS KINGSTON OHL 74.25 198 59 2.32 0.922 0.49 2.80%
23 SMITH, EVAN AUSTIN NAHL 78.25 174 15 1.73 0.923 0.48 2.10%
6 LARKIN, RYAN CEDAR RAPIDS USHL 72.5 192 28 2.43 0.919 0.47 1.80%
28 PAPIRNY, JORDAN BRANDON WHL 72.5 173 59 2.74 0.91 0.47 1.40%
21 MCNIVEN, MICHAEL OWEN SOUND OHL 72.75 221 24 2.79 0.914 0.35 2.00%
18 BIRDSALL, CHRISTOPHER YOUNGSTOWN USHL 71 181 32 2.46 0.914 0.34 1.30%
19 INGRAM, CONNOR KAMLOOPS WHL 72.5 212 52 2.96 0.904 0.27 0.80%
14 TOTH, RYLAN RED DEER WHL 73.5 195 56 2.84 0.904 0.27 0.80%
22 BEDNARD, RYAN JOHNSTOWN NAHL 75.75 179 37 2.66 0.913 0.25 1.10%
25 FLINN, JACK OWEN SOUND OHL 79 223 43 2.99 0.908 0.25 1.40%
2 BOOTH, CALLUM QUEBEC QMJHL 74.75 199 41 3.05 0.9 0.22 1.65%
1 BLACKWOOD, MACKENZIE BARRIE OHL 76 215 51 3.09 0.906 0.21 1.20%
29 OLDHAM, KRISTIAN OMAHA USHL 74.25 203 33 2.49 0.908 0.18 0.70%
17 PARENTEAU, RYLAN PRINCE ALBERT WHL 72.5 191 44 3.23 0.901 0.17 0.50%
11 HERBST, LIAM OTTAWA OHL 75.75 194 39 2.76 0.901 0.12 0.70%
9 SCHNEIDER, NICK MEDICINE HAT WHL 73.75 160 27 2.82 0.898 0.07 0.20%
24 SHAW, AUSTIN WICHITA FALLS NAHL 76 205 43 2.88 0.902 0.00 0.00%
20 HICKS, CONNOR BELLEVILLE OHL 75.25 189 28 3.91 0.894 0.00 0.00%
12 OPILKA, LUKE USA U-18 USHL 73 192 15 2.48 0.901 0.00 0.00%
7 MCBRIDE, NICK PRINCE ALBERT WHL 75.5 179 37 3.41 0.895 -0.03 -0.10%
27 HALLADAY, LOGAN BLOOMINGTON USHL 72.75 194 30 3.08 0.896 -0.13 -0.50%
13 LACKEY, MICHAEL USA U-18 USHL 74.5 214 13 3.18 0.877 -0.63 -2.40%
16 HUSKA, ADAM GREEN BAY USHL 75.25 189 6 4.34 0.866 -0.92 -3.50%
10 DACCORD, JOEL CUSHING ACADEMY HIGH-MA 74.25 197 2 0.933 0.69 4.70%

You may
be able to draw your own conclusions about some of these goaltenders, but we’ve
highlighted a few of our favourite bets.


From a
statistics point of view, Portland’s Adin Hill is our top choice.  He’s a big goaltender, currently listed at
75.5 inches, he plays in a good league, and has had an excellent performance
almost a standard deviation above the mean of WHL goaltenders this season.

scout Cody
Nikolet from Dub From Above
has Hill ranked as his #1 WHL goaltender

Hill is a towering and long rookie goaltender for the Portland Winterhawks…is
my highest rated WHL goaltender for the 2015 NHL Draft…burst onto the scene
this year, playing well and taking over the Winterhawks crease during their
tumultuous start to the season despite being a rookie…is absolutely massive…is
both tall and wide…has a huge chest protector which makes him look almost like
a lacrosse goalie…is not the most refined mover in the crease but has good
speed in his side to side mobility…is quite athletic for a goaltender with his
frame…has extremely long legs which gives him that extra inch here and there
when sprawling out to make stops…he takes away the bottom of the net very well
thanks to those long legs…spends a lot of time on his knees while the puck is
located from the top of the circles-down…would definitely consider him to be
more of a “blocker” than some of the other WHL goalies in this draft class…is
not super consistent in his stance…have seen him be very crouched with a slight
lean forward…have also seen him play tall and upright not unlike the previously
mentioned lacrosse goaltender…while he takes away the lower part of the net
well, he’s a bit more prone to get beat high based on my viewings…seems to
track the puck well and has the size to see over and around screens…battles in
the crease…is a true 1996-born player, eligible for his second NHL draft in
2015…finished the regular season with the best save percentage of any WHL
goalie at .921…was tied for 5th in regular season wins in the WHL…finished 9th
in the WHL in regular season goals against average…was never drafted into the
WHL but was rather listed by the Portland Winterhawks

While we
cannot be sure that he will continue to play at this elite level, given his
relatively large sample size of games for 1 season, he would be one of the
better bets in this draft.


Bow is another WHL goaltender, who is even larger than Adin Hill, currently
listed at 76 inches.  He didn’t quite perform
as well as Hill but his save percentage came over a larger sample size of

Cody Nikolet:

Bow is a tall, double-overage goalie for the Swift Current Broncos…biggest
asset is his size, standing at 6’4…uses that size to his advantage as it gives
him tall shoulders and long legs to take up as much net as possible…moves
around the crease fairly well for a goalie of his size, length and
weight…doesn’t have a ton of fluidity and smoothness to his manoeuvring but is
definitely fast for his size…stays fairly tight in his structure while he
moves, a good asset considering his limb length…rebound control has been
inconsistent in my viewings…looks strong on the first shot but has a tendency
to leave pucks in bad spots that lead to immediate second and third chances and
subsequent goals…would consider him to be more of a “blocker” style of
goaltender…seems to go down a tad early on shots, something he does get away
with due to his frame being so large…would like to see him read the puck better
as opposed to instantly dropping down once the puck is shot…also plays a tad
deep in his net for my liking, exposing more net than necessary…could be better
at being “big” when looking around screens rather than crouching around or
underneath players to get a sight line…plays fairly small for a big
guy…consistency was also an issue for me…was among WHL leaders in shutouts this
year but also had some very ugly games including allowing 7 in one of the games
I caught live…was a first-year starter for the Broncos after spending the last
two years behind now-Oilers prospect goalie Eetu Laurikainen…is currently in
his 3rd year of NHL Draft eligibility…was a 4th round pick, 78th overall, by
the Swift Current Broncos at the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft…overall I think he has
some attractive tools including good size and mobility and had a fairly strong
season considering it was has first as a WHL starter…I wouldn’t quite consider
him to be a draftable player this year but many of his flaws are fixable going
forward…he is surely good enough to earn a camp invite for next fall and a
potential pro contract next season following his 20 year old year…


prospect to select would be Cale Morris, the best goaltender in North America
who performed relative to his league. 
The red flags that cause some worry with Morris is that he played in the
USHL, a weaker North American development league, and that he only had 28 games
played, one of the smallest samples of top ranked goaltenders.  For these reasons I would be more confident
in selection Adin Hill, Matej Tomek or Landon Bow.


is the top ranked North American goalie by both CSS rankings and by Corey
Pronman.  The scouts might like him but
the numbers do not favour him as much.  Blackwood
played this season for the Barrie Colts, a middling possession team with
average shot suppression talent. 
Blackwood has the size and a good sample size of games in the past
season.  He performed well, but there are
many who have had better results this year.

TSN’s Craig Button
had this analysis on his play:

possesses a very good base of goaltending skill. His mobility and lateral
agility is good and he moves well around his net in reading the play and
utilizing his size to his advantage. At times he gets caught deep in the net,
creating unnecessary vulnerability but is certainly an aspect that can be developed
and allow him to be a very good goalie.


Rank Name Team League Hand Age Height Weight GP GAA Save % Z-Score Rel Median
5 VAN POTTELBERGHE, JOREN LINKOPING U18 J18 Allsvenskan L 18 6′ 2.5″ 187 15 1.25 0.949 1.04 6.05%
10 GEORGIYEV, ALEXANDER TPS JR. Jr A. SM-Liiga L 19 6′ 0.0″ 167 25 2.25 0.92 0.64 2.80%
1 SAMSONOV, ILYA MAGNITOGORSK 2 RUSSIA-JR. L 18 6′ 3.0″ 200 18 2.66 0.918 0.42 2.50%
2 VLADAR, DANIEL KLADNO Czech U20 L 17 6′ 5.25″ 185 29 2.78 0.926 0.31 1.90%
6 VEHVILAINEN, VEINI JYP 2 FINLAND-2 R 18 6′ 0.5″ 180 26 2.57 0.917 0.26 1.10%
3 SANDSTROM, FELIX BRYNAS JR. SWEDEN-JR. L 18 6′ 2.0″ 191 14 2.63 0.907 0.15 0.70%
8 WERNER, ADAM FARJESTAD JR. SWEDEN-JR. L 18 6′ 4.75″ 185 28 3.01 0.906 0.13 0.60%
7 GODLA, DENIS BRATISLAVA Slovakia L 20 5′ 11.0″ 176 16 3.19 0.915 0.03 0.40%
4 STEZKA, ALES LIBEREC JR. Czech U20 L 18 6′ 3.25″ 178 40 2.77 0.907 0.00 0.00%
9 SORENSEN, GEORGE HERNING DENMARK L 20 5′ 10.0″ 172 4 2.97 0.894 -0.05 -0.25%


is in a great position, similar to a few other European goaltenders: he is both
highly rated by scouts and the results of his performance are quite high.  Playing the majority of the year in the MHL his
save percentage relative to his peers is quite high.  He has the size to succeed and he is heralded
for his athletic play by scouting staff such as TSN’s Craig Button stating:

essential elements of size and athletic ability to be imposing in the net and
make scoring difficult. He is very aware and reads the play well and is quick
to close down the net. An ultra competitor who never gives up on a play. With
normal technical refinement, he can become a star.

Samsonov is likely the best goaltending prospect available in 2015.


is in a similar situation as Samsonov. 
He is in the top ranks of goaltenders this season by scouting lists
while the statistical analysis of his performance bodes well for him.  He’s very big, a good sign, while performing strongly
above his peers average in the Czech-2 league, a great sign for a
teenager.  Similar to Samsonov he has
good athletic ability but needs to tighten up technically.  From Craig Button:

possesses very good skill with excellent quickness and the ability to move very
well around his net to make saves. He competes in tight and his lower net
coverage is very strong. He gets himself out of position too quickly at times
and needs to understand his skill and size are his greatest allies.  A very solid base to improve upon.

While 2015 may not be a fantastic year for goaltenders, Samsonov and Vladar look like as good bets as any draft pick to grow into an NHL quality netminder.