In the days leading to the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24, NHL.com will break down the top prospects by position. Today: The top goaltenders available.
How is goaltender the most important position on the ice when it always seems to be the last given consideration in the NHL Draft?
Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr has an explanation.
"It's arguably the hardest position [to develop]," Marr said. "The development process takes a little bit longer. Goaltenders have to play, and a lot of times at this age they're not the No. 1 goaltender on their team so they don't necessarily get the quality ice time. They're still 18 years old.
"If you do a quick study of the top goaltenders in the League, and look at it based on salary, a lot of them weren't high picks in the draft. It's a very difficult position for some to grasp."
Video: Mike Morreale on the top prospects in the Draft
Ilya Samsonov, selected No. 22 by the Washington Capitals in 2015, is the most recent goaltender to be picked in the first round.
Here are NHL.com's top 10 goaltenders eligible for the 2017 draft:
Oettinger (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), No. 1 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies, plays a simple and efficient game. He went 21-11 with three ties, a 2.11 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and four shutouts in 35 games. He led Hockey East with a 2.09 GAA in 20 conference games and was named to the Hockey East All-Star Team. He also won a gold medal as the third goaltender for the United States at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
He missed a month after getting pneumonia in October but returned to help lead HPK in the Finland junior league to the playoffs with a 1.78 GAA and a .917 save percentage in 35 games. Luukkonen (6-4, 197), No. 1 in Central Scouting's final ranking of international goalies, has good rebound control and instincts, and plays calm and relaxed.
DiPietro (6-0, 202) is No. 4 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies. He's focused, has excellent leg strength and recovery skills, and is efficient on post-to-post play. DiPietro went 30-12-6 with a 2.35 GAA, six shutouts and a .917 save percentage in 51 games. He 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .932 save percentage to help Windsor win the Memorial Cup, and he was named the tournament's top goaltender.
Eriksson Ek (6-2, 178) plays a butterfly style, can recover quickly and has a good glove hand. He had a 2.16 GAA, a .924 save percentage and five shutouts in 30 games for Farjestad in Sweden's under-20 league. He's No. 2 in Central Scouting's final ranking of international goalies.
Petruzzelli (6-5, 174), No. 2 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies, is good on his angles, square to shots and tough to beat low. He went 22-10-1 with a 2.40 GAA, a .918 save percentage and two shutouts in 35 games. He's committed to Quinnipiac University next season.
He plays a butterfly style with excellent rebound control, has a good glove hand and is smart at reading backdoor plays. Scott (6-3, 169), No. 3 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies, had a 3.69 GAA and an .895 save percentage in 50 games with Prince Albert, which finished 20th among 22 teams in the WHL standings.
Skinner (6-3, 199), No. 5 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies, has excellent command of the crease with an aggressive style. He finished 34-18-5 with a 3.26 GAA, two shutouts and a .905 save percentage in 60 games.
Rasmussen (6-0, 197), a butterfly-style goaltender, is No. 6 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies. He went 17-16-3 with a 2.45 GAA, a .912 save percentage and two shutouts in 38 games split between Tri-City and Chicago. He's committed to play at the University of Denver next season.
Primeau (6-2, 186), the son of former NHL forward Keith Primeau, brings a calmness and confidence to the crease. He went 14-11-2 with a 3.16 GAA and an .895 save percentage in 30 games. He's No. 7 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies and is committed to play at Northeastern University next season,
He might be on the smaller side (6-0, 163), but is quick and effective while playing a butterfly style. Ahman, No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international goalies, had a 2.30 GAA, a .927 save percentage and four shutouts in 34 games for HV 71 in Sweden's under-20 league. He was 4-3 with a 2.93 GAA and a .902 save percentage in seven playoff games.