Thunder Bay, ONHeight:
Barrie (OHL)CSS Rank:
1st among North American Goalies
It is possible that, for a third-straight year, no goaltenders will be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. But once a run starts on them, Mackenzie Blackwood is projected to be one of the first off the board. Blackwood is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American goalie ahead of the 2015 Draft.
It is surprising to see Blackwood’s name at the top of the goalie rankings due to how little time he has actually played the position. Blackwood didn’t start playing goalie until he was 12, while most netminders usually begin three or four years earlier.
The year he was drafted by the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League was only his fourth year between the pipes.
“Before I knew it, I was right there with goalies that had been doing it three, four or five years before I had started,” Blackwood said, according to NHL.com.
In his OHL rookie season, Blackwood finished 23-15-2 with a 2.98 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. He was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team. His numbers improved in the post-season, with Blackwood posting a 2.61 GAA and .904 save percentage.
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This season, Blackwood finished with the fourth-most wins in the OHL (33-14-2). His GAA dipped to 3.09, but his save percentage improved to .906. Again, the playoffs brought improved numbers. He had a 2.88 GAA and .922 SV% in the playoffs, before Barrie lost in the second round to North Bay.
Blackwood possesses good NHL size for a goaltender, at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. Athletically, Blackwood grades out well according to scouts.
“Obviously, the bigger you are the more net you take up,” said Blackwood. “It helps to fill the net as much as you can. If you can just get your body in front of the puck it definitely makes a big difference, and being a little bigger too because the more net you take up the easier it is to make a save.”
Blackwood compares his game to Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Arizona’s Mike Smith.
“He takes a calm and relaxed approach and has excellent positional play,” Central Scouting’s Al Jensen said. “He has a butterfly style with great low net coverage and controlled lateral movements.”
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
- Central Scouting’s Al Jensen: “Mackenzie’s overall net coverage is excellent. His size and explosive leg power pushes is a great asset in his lateral ability. He is able to get across laterally with ease and very quickly, always being in control. Another advantage is when he drops in the butterfly he covers the lower corners post-to-post with his excellent leg extension while sealing the ice. While he’s in the butterfly he also keeps his upper body in an upright position with his glove in the proper position as well to cover the upper half of the net. There are not many holes for the shooters to shoot at.”
- A scout, according to The Hockey News: “He’s good at reading the play and getting into position. For big goalies, the challenge is not just relying on size and saying, ‘Ok, I’m big, puck hit me.’”
- Another scout: “He’s so big and he fills the net— he almost looks like (Roberto) Luongo in there.”
- Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects: “A goalie who stays calm, cool, and collected in all situations, whether down by five or leading by 10. Knows his game inside and out, and never panics. With his size, it isn’t a surprise that he excels in the traditional butterfly style; plays the puck intelligently and is quick to react with both his blocker and glove hand. Swift, crisp lateral movements let him get into positions where shooters have nothing to shoot at.”