In the days leading to the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23, NHL.com will break down the top prospects by position. Today: The top goaltenders available.
The development of any young goaltender is a hard and arduous process, but one that can be extremely rewarding with patience and persistence in the early stages of a career.
Although there may not be a goalie chosen in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft, organizations do have some decisions to make beginning late in the second round on whether the time is right to begin nurturing a prospect at the position.
[RELATED: Complete 2018 NHL Draft coverage]
"The position of goalie is the toughest position to play and the 2018 draft continues a trend where there are very few goaltenders to consider as top selections for the draft due to the fact they require a longer development path with projection," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. "The focus is on the natural abilities and techniques they possess; mental and physical assets are also emphasized. Many draft eligible goaltenders are the youngest on the team and most are not the starters, so it's a challenge to catch them in game action and it's mentally tough on the goaltender knowing he needs to play well to get another start."
Here are NHL.com's top 10 goaltenders available for the 2018 draft:
1. Olivier Rodrigue, Drummondville (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (North American goalies)
Rodrigue (6-foot-1, 159 pounds) can read the play well, offers controlled movements and his positional play is exceptional, according to Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting. Though not a huge goalie, he plays bigger than his size and has great instincts. He went 31-16-2 with a 2.54 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and three shutouts in 53 games.
2. Justus Annunen, Karpat Jr. (FIN-JR.)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (International goalies)
Annunen (6-4, 217) is an imposing goaltender who was consistent and reliable throughout the season for Karpat's junior team. He was the starting goalie for Finland at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, and had a 2.00 GAA and .914 save percentage in six games to help his country to a gold medal. Annunen had a 2.31 GAA and .907 save percentage in 26 regular-season games, and a 1.83 GAA and .935 save percentage in 12 playoff games. He'll play for Karpat's senior team in Liiga next season.
3. Lukas Dostal, Trebic (CZREP-2)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (International goalies)
He had a 1.40 GAA and .959 save percentage in seven playoff games for Czech Republic junior champion, Brno Under-20. Dostal (6-1, 158), who had a 3.34 GAA and .905 save percentage in five games for Czech Republic at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, plays a smart game and has great athleticism and quickness. He describes himself as being calm and mentally focused.
4. Kevin Mandolese, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (North American goalies)
Jensen describes Mandolese as having a similar style to Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray. Mandolese (6-4, 180) is patient, poised and fundamentally sound. He has a huge presence in net and allows few holes. Mandolese was 15-13-2 with a 3.46 GAA and .884 save percentage in 37 games for Cape Breton (32-28-8).
5. Matthew Thiessen, Steinbach (MJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (North American goalies)
Thiessen (6-2, 192), who is committed to the University of Maine in 2019-20, led the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in wins (28-3-1), was first with a 2.06 GAA and second with a .923 save percentage. He helped the Pistons to their first ANAVET Cup championship, going 4-2 with a 2.47 GAA and .903 save percentage in six games against Nipawin in the best-of-7 series.
6. Alexis Gravel, Halifax (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 3 (North American goalies)
Possessing good drive and determination, Gravel (6-3, 219) was 20-11-4 with a 3.38 GAA and .890 save percentage in 39 games for the Mooseheads. He has a good and confident glove hand and decent rebound control.
7. Jakub Skarek, Jihlava (CZREP)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (International goalies)
Skarek (6-3, 196) played five games for the Czech Republic, which finished fourth at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. He was the starter for Jihlava and finished 9-12-1 with a 2.42 GAA and .912 save percentage in 21 games in the Czech league. Skarek, who will likely play in Finland next season, is an athletic-style butterfly goaltender.
8. Zachary Bouthillier, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 6 (North American goalies)
Acquired by Chicoutimi in a trade with Shawinigan for two QMJHL draft picks on Aug. 28, 2017, Bouthillier (6-2, 185) finished 13-17-2 with a 3.42 GAA and .894 save percentage in 38 regular-season games for the Sagueneens. He had a 2.76 GAA and .931 save percentage in a six-game loss to eventual champion Acadie-Bathurst in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs.
9. Amir Miftakhov, Irbis Kazan (RUS-JR.)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 3 (International goalies)
Miftakhov (6-0, 158) likes to challenge shooters and plays a solid, aggressive style. He went 15-9-2 in 26 games in the Russian junior league with a 1.91 GAA, two shutouts, and a .934 save percentage. He also represented Russia at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.
10. Keegan Karki, Muskegon (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (North American goalies)
Karki (6-4, 216) is an athletic, butterfly-style goalie. He finished 24-16-0 with a 3.20 GAA and .890 save percentage in 41 games as a rookie in the United States Hockey League this season.