Without a doubt, goaltending is the most heavily-debated position in the 2012 NHL Draft for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there doesn’t seem to be one consensus goalkeeper who most teams agree projects to be the best professional long-term. As Blackhawks Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley told chicagoblackhawks.com, there isn’t a goaltender in this year’s class who has the pre-draft accolades of highly-touted and early-drafted netminders such as Carey Price, Cam Ward or Marc-Andre Fleury.
Secondly, where many top-ranked picks will become NHL regulars within the next couple of years, goalies as a rule take longer to develop and move up to the pro ranks. The jury could be out on this class for a long time, maybe as much as five seasons or more, before goalie picks can be accurately judged.
But that doesn’t mean the 2012 goaltending class cannot be a special one; in fact, depending on which mock drafts you read, there are a few candidates to be the first goalie off the board, and many of them have a chance to become NHL regulars.
Malcolm Subban, Belleville (OHL)
CSS Ranking: 1st among N.A. goaltenders
The brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, the younger brother is regarded as one of the most athletic goalies in the 2012 draft. Subban went 25-14-0 with the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls, finishing fourth in the League with a 2.50 goals-against average and tied for fifth with a .923 save percentage.
The Scouting Report: “I see Malcolm as Carey Price. He's calm and poised. I find [M.A.] Fleury as more of an acrobatic goalie and getting out there, but Malcolm is very good with his positioning with outstanding lateral ability and quickness. He can make the big save to turn a game around, but he covers post-to-post so well with his butterfly. His leg extension is incredible and he has a very quick glove hand.” [NHL Central Scouting]
Andrei Vasilevski, Ufa (RUS-Jr.)
Goalie - UFA (RUSSIA-Jr.)
GAMES PLAYED: 27
GAA: 2.23 | SVP: 0.931
CSS Ranking: 1st among European goaltenders
Vasilevski helped Russia capture silver at the 2012 World Junior Championship posting four wins, a 2.01 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage to go along with two shutouts, and he finished the tournament ranked second in wins and save percentage. Already well-sized for the position at 6-foot-3, 204 pounds, he first played for Russia at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships at the age of 15, posting a 2.65 goals-against average, .896 save-percentage and one shutout to help Russia to a fourth-place finish.
The Scouting Report: “The rare netminder who is a game-changer. Huge and highly athletic for his size. Stunningly calm under huge pressure – underage goalies who excel at the World Juniors are unheard of. Plays with an economy of motion – lets the play come to him. Impossible to beat down low with long legs that cover post-to-post. Terrific using pads to angle shots to corners.” [Red Line Report]
Brandon Whitney, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
CSS Ranking: 2nd among N.A. goaltenders
Another big goaltender, measuring 6-foot-5, Whitney posted a 22-4-4 record, 2.74 goals-against average and .896 save percentage in 2011-12, his rookie season, to help Victoriaville finish fourth in the QMJHL. He ranked sixth in the league in goals-against average and eighth in save percentage. He also led all rookie netminders in goals-against average and ranked second in wins and save percentage. Toward the end of the season, he split time with 2011 Vancouver draft pick David Hoznik in net.
The Scouting Report: “For his size (6-5, 193), he has extremely quick movements and is controlled … he's not all over the place. I find his angles are very good, he's aggressive and challenges well. He's got strong legs and gets set quickly. I see a lot of upside for this kid three or four years down the road." [NHL Central Scouting]
Oscar Dansk, Brynas (SWE-Jr.)
CSS Ranking: 2nd among European goaltenders
The Scouting Report: “Stood on his head at two early tournaments, giving his team a chance to win every game and stealing a few, but had a rough go at the World U-18s and did not display great form during league play. Exceptionally long legs and quick pads make him very tough to beat down low. Gets some piece of equipment on the puck even if the situation seems impossible – never gives up.” [Red Line Report]
Jake Paterson, Saginaw (OHL)
CSS Ranking: 3rd among N.A. goaltenders
The Scouting Report: "I like his quickness, his athleticism, drive and determination. He wants to get better and he is getting better. He's most effective when he challenges. He has such strong leg strength. He's challenged better over the second half and he has NHL quickness right now … he's one of the quickest goalies in the draft." [NHL Central Scouting]
Other names to know: Anthony Stolarz (Corpus Christi, NAHL), Joonas Korpisalo (Jokerit, FIN-Jr.), Francois Tremblay (Val d’Or, QMJHL), Andrey Makarov (Saskatoon, WHL), Jean Auren (Sport, FIN-Jr.)