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AHL notebook: Top goalie prospects

Kahkonen, Ingram, Primeau among those most ready for NHL

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Goalies often need significant development time in the American Hockey League as they make the transition to the NHL from the Canadian Hockey League, college hockey, or Europe. 

As part of a series examining some of the top AHL prospects, NHL.com looks at the League's top goalies this season, ranked in order of NHL readiness.

 

1. Kaapo Kahkonen, Iowa (Minnesota Wild)

Selected by Minnesota in the fourth round (No. 109) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Kahkonen had a standout career with Luuko in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, before coming to North America. After a strong rookie season with Iowa in 2018-19 (17-14-8, 2.78 goals-against average, .908 save percentage six shutouts in 39 games), he took over the No. 1 job this season.

Kahkonen has helped Iowa to second place in the Western Conference this season. He leads the league in wins (25) and shutouts (seven) and his 2.07 GAA and .927 save percentage each rank fourth. The 23-year-old made his NHL debut with the Wild on Nov. 26 and is 3-1-1 with a 2.96 GAA and .913 save percentage in five games with them.

Video: MIN@NJD: Kahkonen denies Vantanen in the 3rd

 

2. Connor Ingram, Milwaukee (Nashville Predators)

Selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round (No. 88) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Ingram spent his first two pro seasons in the organization with their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Nashville acquired the 23-year-old from Tampa Bay on June 14 for a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and signed him to a three-year contract on March 23.

Ingram has thrived with Milwaukee, which leads the AHL with a 41-14-5-3 record. He is 21-5-5 and ranks third in the AHL with a 1.92 GAA and .933 save percentage in 33 games.

 

3. Dan Vladar, Providence (Boston Bruins)

Boston has taken its time developing the 22-year-old, who was a third-round selection (No. 75) in the 2015 NHL Draft and is in his fourth pro season in North America. Vladar is 14-7-1 in 25 games with Providence and leads the league in GAA (1.79) and save percentage (.936).

 

4. Cayden Primeau, Laval (Montreal Canadiens)

After two NCAA seasons with Northeastern University, where he was twice a finalist for the Mike Richter Award (most outstanding goaltender), Primeau turned pro and was selected in the seventh round (No. 199) of the 2017 Draft.

The 20-year-old is 17-11-3 with a 2.45 GAA, first among AHL rookies, and a .908 save percentage in 33 games. He made 32 saves in his NHL debut, a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Bell Centre on Dec. 5, and is 1-1-0 with a 2.52 GAA and .931 save percentage in two games with Montreal.

Video: Primeau talks about getting his first NHL win.

 

5. Adam Werner, Colorado (Colorado Avalanche)

A fifth-round pick (No. 131) by the Avalanche in the 2016 draft, the 22-year-old is 18-10-1 with a 2.92 GAA and .909 save percentage in 31 AHL games this season. 

Werner had a memorable NHL debut making 40 saves in 59:29 in a 4-0 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 12. He is 1-1-0 with a 3.42 GAA and .914 save percentage in two games with the Avalanche.

 

6. Mikhail Berdin, Manitoba (Winnipeg Jets)

In his first full AHL season, the sixth-round pick (No. 157) in the 2016 draft has performed well, playing in 31 of Manitoba's first 35 games. 

The 22-year-old is tied with Ville Husso of San Antonio (St. Louis Blues) for the AHL lead in games played among goalies (42) and ranks second in minutes (2,424:55). He is 20-21-1 with a 2.89 GAA, .910 save percentage and two shutouts.

 

7. Jake Oettinger, Texas (Dallas Stars)

The 26th pick in the 2017 draft, Oettinger has impressed in his rookie season in the AHL. He leads first-year players in save percentage (.917) and is 15-16-4 with a 2.57 GAA.

Texas lost 12 straight games earlier this season (0-11-0-1) and was 3-13-0-2 on Nov. 23. However, the 21-year-old helped them turn it around and they currently are one point out of a Calder Cup playoffs spot in the Central Division.

 

8. Jonas Johansson, Rochester (Buffalo Sabres)

A third-round pick (No. 61) in the 2014 draft, the 24-year-old needed three seasons with Almtuna in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second-highest professional league in Sweden, and two in the ECHL before reaching the AHL on a full-time basis.

Johansson is 14-4-3 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .921 save percentage (seventh in AHL) in 22 games this season. After representing Rochester at the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic, he was recalled by the Sabres in February and is 1-3-1 with a 2.94 GAA and .894 save percentage in six games (five starts) with them.

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