When it comes to goalies, it can seem that you are better off putting names on a wall and throwing a dart at the board than actually scouting. However, that does not need to be the case and to better understand the future we need to look at the past to find new information. Without new and better information, an individual will continue to have the same thoughts and ideas, which will leave them apt to make the same mistakes time and time again. I have a feeling many scouts do not change their point of view when evaluating players and continue to draft the same type of players year after year. With that in mind, what new information can we gather from goaltenders? To do this, I looked at first year draft eligible goalies from the CHL that have had some success at the NHL level. For this, I have defined success at the NHL level as 50 games played and have chosen goalies selected between 1998 and 2006.
TOP CHL DRAFTED GOALIES (1998-2006)
Between 1998 and 2006, there were 33 first year draft eligible goalies from the CHL that were taken with a pick between 1st and 77th overall. This is the list of goalies and games played:
If we look at this list:
– 16 of 33 goalies went on to play 50+ NHL games (48.5%).
– 13 of the 33 goalies played 100+ NHL games (39.4%)
– 9 of the 33 goalies played 200+ NHL games (27.3%)
These numbers were quite surprising for me, as I thought the % of goalies with over 50 games played would be considerably less. Scott Cullen took a look at goalies drafted in the top 30 picks and 50% had over 100 games played, but I do not like using the same amount of games played for goalies as forwards/d-men since goalies have to share the load. Now if we compare the success rates of goalies taken in the top 30 with 50+ games played vs. that of forwards/d-men with 100+ games played these are the results:
Taking a goalie with a 1st round pick is not advantageous and should only be done in special circumstances (Price, Fleury, Bernier) as 6 of the 7 goalies that went on to play 50+ games were taken in the top 14 picks. Otherwise, it is best to wait till the 2nd or early 3rd round as this is when goalies become of value.
With this new information, I can adjust my views as using a top 100 pick on a goalie is not as risky as I once believed. Between the 31st and 77th pick, it is actually a safer bet to take one of the top goalies than a forward or d-man, so if you are in the market for a goalie this is when to strike. If we average it over 9 years, generally 4 CHL goalies are taken before the top 80 with 2 of them being successful picks.
So if the scouts are generally successful at picking the top goalies in the draft, how do they do when it comes to picks from 80 down?
When it comes to drafting goalies from the 80th spot and later in the draft, the scouts crashed and burned.
– 6 of 65 goalies (9.2%) went on to play 50+ NHL games.
– 5 of the 65 goalies played 100+ NHL games (7.7%)
– 3 of the 65 goalies played 200+ NHL games (4.6%)
These numbers just dropped off the map, as a team is over 5X more likely to get a successful goalie if they pick one before the 80th pick than after. If we look at goalies taken in the 5th round or later, there were only 3 successful goalies in 9 years. To put it in perspective, a 9.2% success rate for a player is what we expect for a 7th round pick. With this knowledge in hand, it seems like a crazy idea to use a late round pick on a CHL goalie. Therefore, the theory of waiting and not using an early draft pick on a goalie is contrary to what history tells us. History shows that CHL scouts are good at their jobs for identifying the best CHL goalies in the draft. Therefore, if you take one of the goalies that are a consensus top 75 pick, you have a 50/50 chance of getting a decent one. For this year, Mackenzie Blackwood is the only goalie that is a consensus top 75 pick. Meanwhile, Callum Booth and Samuel Montembeault are sometimes seen as a top 75 pick, with Booth the likeliest goalie to join Blackwood in that group.
TOP EUROPEAN DRAFTED GOALIES (1998-2006)
Now let us go across the pond to see if it is also a good idea to take European goalies with a high draft pick (first 3 rounds). Between 1998 and 2006, there were 11 first year draft eligible goalies, from Europe, that were taken with a top 50 picks. This is the list of goalies and games played:
If we look at this list:
– 7 of 11 goalies (63.6%) went on to play 50+ NHL games.
– 6 of the 11 goalies played 100+ NHL games (54.5%)
– 4 of the 11 goalies played 200+ NHL games (36.4%)
Once again, we see that scouts do a good job at selecting the top end goalies, which further enforces the point that the top goalies need to be picked up before it is too late. Therefore, if you want to draft Ilya Samsonov, a team will have to be prepared to use a top 50 pick.
When we look at the rest of the European goalies, there was a noticeable difference when it comes to the later selections. These are the list of goalies taken outside the top 50:
– 6 of 30 goalies went on to play 50+ NHL games (20.0%).
– 4 of the 30 goalies played 100+ NHL games (13.3%)
– 3 of the 30 goalies played 200+ NHL games (10.0%)
When you compare the numbers between European goalies and CHL goalies, you had double the chance of getting a successful goalie if you take the European goalie. Out of the 6 Euro goalies, with 50+ NHL games, only 1 of them was taken before the 6th round (Greiss). If this trend has continued, taking a flyer on a Euro goalie with a 6th or 7th round choice would be wise, since 20% odds is a very good deal for a late draft pick considering 19.3% of 4th round players hit 100 games while it is 14.7% for a 5th round pick and 15.5% for a 6th round choice. Whether this trend has continued or teams have become better at scouting European goalies if up for debate and needs to be researched. My gut is telling me that European goalies are still under scouted and that is where the diamonds in the rough are to be found. Here are my top diamonds in the rough that did not crack Central Scouting top 10 International goalies:
Erik Kallgren – 6’2 goalie led the Superelit J20 with a 1.75 GAA and a .936 SA%. One of his backups was the #5 ranked goalie Van Pottleberghe who had a .892 SA% in 5 games.
Andreas Kaberg – The backup for the #8 ranked goalie, Adam Werner. Kaberg is a 6’2 goalie that was 6th in the Superelit J20 league with a .920 SA% (Werner is .906).
John Morelius – split time in Brynas with the #3 ranked goalie Sandstrom and put up similar SA% (Sandstrom – .907, Morelius – .906).
Markus Ruusu – split time with the #4 ranked goalie Vehvilainen in the Jr. A SM-liiga. Both goalies had the same .918 SA%.
Jan Ruzicka – 6’1 goalie that was 2nd in the Czech U20 junior league with a .931 SA%.
Ivan Fedotov – 6’5 goalie that had a .911 SA% in the MHL. While only 19th in the league in SA% (minimum 15 GP), Fedotov carried his team as his two main backups had a SA% of .857 and .853.
WHAT DID WE LEARN
What we have learned is that the best method of drafting goalies is to stay away from using a first round pick on a goalie (unless it is an exceptional goalie) as the odds are significantly better if you draft a forward or d-men over a goalie (over 40% better). Instead, the best time to draft one of the top rated goalies from North America or Europe is to grab them in the 2nd or early 3rd round. Goalies in this range tend to out perform the forwards and d-men by 50% and if you wait to long all the good goalies will be gone. If a team wants to take a shot on a goalie in the late rounds, it is better to take a European goalie as history shows they are twice as likely at becoming a successful NHL goalie as their North American counterparts. By doing this a team will give itself the best chance of getting a successful goalie.
That means for the 2015 draft, Blackwood is a name that should be on everyone’s top 100 rankings and is a likely choice for the 2nd round. As for other North American goalies, Callum Booth receives the most consideration as satisfying being a top 80 pick and is a likely third round choice. For European goalies, Samsonov is a consensus top 50 pick and is the likeliest to be the first goalie taken in the draft. Meanwhile, there are no other European goalies considered a consensus top 50 pick but there is a 6’5 Czech goalie named Daniel Vladar who is considered the 2nd best European goalie and has more impressive numbers than Blackwood, Booth or Samsonov. Here is the breakdown of goalies based on height, weight, SA%, SA%(W/O) which is the combined SA% of the other goalies on the team, league rank for SA% (minimum 30 GP for CHL goalies, minimum 15GP for European goalies)
- All the goalies are top 10 in their leagues in SA%. These goalies are ahead of their peers.
- The numbers between Blackwood and Booth are not far apart. Blackwood has the edge in pedigree. For 1st year draft eligible starting goalies, Blackwood and Booth are both 1st in SA% from their respective leagues (minimum 30 GP).
- Samsonov played backup to a 19 yr old Zagidulin who had a strong .919 SA%. His play on the international scene is what put Samsonov on the map. For first year draft eligible goalies with 15 games played, Samsonov is 2nd in the MHL behind 5’10 Anton Krasotkin, who had a .924 SA%.
- Vladar is 6’5 and had a .926 SA% while the other goalies on his team had a combined .904 SA%. The difference is 0.22, which the biggest gap of the 4 goalies. For first year draft eligible goalies with 15 games played in the Czech U20 league, Vladar is 2nd behind the aforementioned Jan Ruzicka.