The Minnesota Wild have never had a shortage of goaltender prospects.
Darcy Kuemper got his first taste of NHL life, but with Niklas Backstrom re-signed and Josh Harding returning, he is expected to play a significant role for the Iowa Wild this season.
The Wild organization and fan base will get their first extended look at Swedish prospect Johan Gustafsson. He is coming over from Europe to begin his professional career.
The team’s goaltending depth took a hit last season when prospect Matt Hackett was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline.
“Part of the reason we were able to trade (Hackett) was the development of (Kuemper and Gustafsson),” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Both of them are top prospects in our opinion. We’re comfortable with those two.”
The Wild will not alter their approach to drafting a goaltender, despite having one less high-upside prospect.
“We’re a team that will try to add a goalie at some point almost every year or every other year,” Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr said. “Goalies take longer to develop. We’re not going to draft a goalie to say we drafted a goalie. If there is a guy that we feel has a chance to be a goalie down the road, we will certainly draft one.”
This year’s goaltending draft class may not be the right time to add another prospect.
“I’d say this is on the mediocre-to-weakside, mainly due to the fact most pro scouts aren’t projecting any goalies to go in the first round,” said director of goalie scouting for McKeen’s Hockey Justin Goldman. “One of the top goalies available suffered through a tough injury, another did not impress in the key month of March, and the other did not have the luxury of a large sample size.”
Final Central Scouting Service North American Goaltenders
No. 1 – Zachary Fucale, Halifax (QMJHL). ‘He plays big in the net, whether standing up or in the butterfly. He keeps his body upright and he always gives himself a chance to stop the puck because he has good body control in the net and is poised. Net coverage in the NHL is so crucial, and he’s got that and is way ahead of the other goalies in this draft.” – Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting.
No. 2 – Eric Comrie, Tri-City (WHL). “Well rounded goalie with strong ability to track the play and reaction time. Competitor who consistently gives his team a chance to win. Needs to improve strength for lateral movement in the crease.” – The Scouting Report.
No. 3 – Tristan Jarry, Edmonton (WHL). “A hybrid athletic/positional type goaltender that scouts are looking for. Still very raw, but emerging as a solid backstop.” – The Scouting Report.
No. 4 – Calvin Petersen, Waterloo (USHL). He earned the better share of the playing over another top draft eligible goaltender for Waterloo. Goldman says “both goalies are fundamentally sound for their age and fairly consistent with their technical game.”
No. 5 – Spencer Martin, Mississauga (OHL). “Competitive goalie challenges and squares to shooters. Needs to improve on tracking of puck.” – International Scouting Service via twitter.
Final Central Scouting Service European Goaltenders
No. 1 – Juuse Saros, HPK Jr. (Finland). “He’s smallish, but has very quick reflexes. He’s difficult to beat up close to the net and he’s excellent on rebounds.” – Goran Stubb of the Central Scouting Service.
No. 2 – Ebbe Sionas, AIK Jr. (Sweden). He excelled for Sweden’s U18 teams in 2011-12, but struggled in 2012-13.
No. 3 – Luca Gracnar, Salzburg (Austria). He posted a .921 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average for Salzburg’s highest level of competition as a 19-year-old.
No. 4 – Marcus Hogberg, Linkoping Jr. (Sweden). “Plays big and does take up lots of space. Strong mechanics and calm under fire, he moves well in the butterfly and has a very good low game with quick pads, while still using his shoulders to close the top of the net.” – Bill Placzek
No. 5 – Ivan Bocharov, MVD Balashikha 2 (Czech Republic). He has good, but not great, size and posted good numbers in the Russian junior league.