While this year's pool of eligible goaltenders may not be as plentiful as it was last June, there still will be a few big names at the top of every team's list at the 2013 NHL Draft.
At the 2012 Draft, five goalies were selected among the top 62 picks, including Andrey Vasilevskiy (No. 19, Tampa Bay Lightning) and Malcolm Subban (No. 24, Boston Bruins) in the first round. Though there is no guarantee a goalie will be chosen among the first 30 picks in 2013, there is one goalie from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League expected to be high on every draft list.
Many consider 6-foot-1.25, 181-pound Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads to be the obvious choice to be the first goaltender drafted.
"Zach is still one of the top goalies, for sure, but he's not a clear-cut No. 1," NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen told NHL.com.
On Tuesday, Central Scouting revealed its preliminary rankings for the top levels of North American junior hockey and in Europe. Not surprisingly, Fucale, who is 15-2-1 in 18 games, with a 2.65 goals-against average and .883 save percentage, was ranked No. 1 among goalies in the QMJHL.
"He's very calm, patient and has a relaxed style," Jensen said. "He has played most of his team's games to date and has been very consistent. He has an excellent butterfly style and his rebound control is very good … he absorbs shots well off the ice. He has a good glove hand and offers excellent balance in his stance and when moving laterally throughout the crease area.
"Zach also has excellent leg strength for moving laterally and pushing off his post to challenge."
In the Western Hockey League, Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans is the No. 1-rated goaltender. Comrie is 14-7-2 with a 2.38 GAA, .920 save percentage and two shutouts.
"He's cool and relaxed, very durable and reliable," Jensen said. "He always gives himself a chance to stop the puck with his excellent angle play and butterfly coverage. He's smooth, controlled and well-balanced. Eric is good post-to-post and on wraparounds."
The second-ranked goalie in the WHL is Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Jarry, who plays a hybrid style, is 4-3-0 with a 1.58 GAA and .935 save percentage in seven games in 2012-13. He's picking up where he left off last season, when he finished 8-2-1 with a 2.93 GAA and .894 save percentage.
"He's very quick, athletic, and plays an aggressive style … he'll challenge shooters well," Jensen said. "He has quick, controlled lateral movements. He's very quick to snap down in the butterfly and take away the low corners, and handles the puck well outside his crease. He shows a lot of confidence in his ability and competes very hard."
Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads is the top-rated goalie in the Ontario Hockey League. In 15 games this season, Martin is 11-3-0 with a 2.47 GAA and .923 save percentage. The native of Oakville, Ontario, has turned the corner this season after going 2-7-1 with a 3.98 GAA and .885 save percentage in 2011-12.
"Spencer is a big goalie (6-2.25, 192) with very good net coverage and is aggressive," Jensen said. "He challenges very well and has a total command of his crease. He's strong and demands space, and I really like his battle and compete level. He's got great drive and determination, good reactions in his feet and pads, and is very athletic."
Peterborough Petes goalie Michael Guigovaz, tops among all rookie OHL goalies in GAA (3.37) and save percentage (.906), is ranked No. 2 in the OHL. The 6-foot, 172-pound player is 5-8-2 in 16 games for the Petes. Guigovaz might be the best skater among all the goalies in the draft.
"He's a reaction-style goalie who plays with a lot of confidence," Jensen said. "He has excellent quickness in all areas, especially his feet and pads. He absorbs a lot of shots with his good angle play and is able to track pucks very well. He's able to move laterally throughout the crease quickly and efficiently, and shows good balance. He's facing a lot of rubber and quality chances and has steadily improved."
The goalie tandem of Eamon McAdam and Calvin Petersen of the Waterloo Black Hawks are ranked first and second, respectively, among goalies in the United States Hockey League. McAdam is committed to Penn State University and Petersen to the University of Notre Dame in the fall of 2013.
According to Jensen, McAdam (5-1-0, 2.35 GAA, .933 save percentage) offers more of a positioning, blocking style. Petersen (6-2-0, 2.63 GAA, .911 save percentage) possesses athleticism within the crease.
"They are both very good," Waterloo coach P.K. O'Handley said. "I think once we get into a rhythm of playing games, [the goalie of choice] may sort itself out. But both are going to get their time, and both deserve it. They'll have to deliver and give our team a chance to win … individual success for them will come in the form of team success."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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