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Tale of Two Goaltenders

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
Zachary Nagelvoort played 24 games as a freshman. Photo by Getty Images.

JASPER, AB - The Edmonton Oilers scouting department felt the club needed to add some depth to their system between the pipes. That’s why the organization selected two goaltenders in the 2014 NHL Draft last month. The team chose University of Michigan netminder Zach Nagelvoort in the fourth round (111th overall) and selected Val d’Or goalie Keven Bouchard in the seventh round (183rd overall).

“It was an exciting experience,” Nagelvoort said. “I’m pretty happy with how the draft day went. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen so I didn’t go out to Philadelphia. I was back home so I could keep myself nice and calm with my family. It was a pretty exciting day and I’m glad to be up here and be a part of the organization.”

Nagelvoort, 20, posted a 2.20 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in his freshman season at the University of Michigan. It was the kind of season that got him noticed by the Oilers. He interviewed with one of the team’s amateur scouts so he knew the Oilers were interested.

“He was a little bit of a late developer coming out of the North American Hockey League,” Oilers Head Amateur Scout Stu MacGregor said at the draft. “He’s a goaltender who had a tremendous freshman year. I think he had an almost .930 save percentage. They were a middle-of-the-road team but he got them in the playoffs. We look at him as a goaltender that will continue to advance with good training and initiative."

Nagelvoort’s save percentage ranks second on the Wolverines’ single-season record list. He also set a new school single-game record with 63 saves against Penn State. His freshman year was full of moments that he will take with him moving forward in his career.

“I think having all of those in my freshman year is a big confidence builder and it helps me going on for these next however many years I am in school just to know that I’ve done it before. Why wouldn’t I be able to do it again? I have that confidence in my back pocket."

Keven Bouchard expects to be the starter for Val d'Or this season. Getty Images.

Nagelvoort says he heads into the 2014-15 NCAA season still in competition for the starting role, even though he earned that distinction during this past season.

“As far as I know I’ve got to earn my spot again, which I kind of like that. You’ve got to go in and work hard every day to get your spot.”

As for Bouchard, the starting role in Val d’Or for this upcoming season appears to be his.

“I will probably be the starter next season,” he said. “I will have to do a great job. I will have to be a key guy on that team. If I want progress and if I want to sign a contract I am going to have to be a key guy and play well.”

Bouchard played just 27 games last year for Val d’Or, registering a 2.95 GAA, a .887 save percentage and a 17-6-1 record. He played one period in the Memorial Cup this year, saving all 13 shots faced. His limited action in the Memorial Cup increased his stock.

With a promotion expected this season, Bouchard is eager to prove himself with more opportunity.

“I think they are confident in me and I’ve got to show them that they are not wrong to be confident in me and I will do the job. I am ready to do it.”

Being drafted by the Oilers was a pleasant surprise as the goalie says he didn’t talk to them in the pre-draft process.

“That was a great experience to get drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and to be here,” he said. “I think I am lucky to be here and I am going to enjoy my trip and I am going to enjoy my experience here.”

“We had a bit of an eye on him from the previous year,” MacGregor said. “I just happened to be at a game one night where he did play and he did get a period at the Memorial Cup and I saw that. He’s a guy with potential. You want to look at kids that have potential. If you saw him there he’s very fit, very strong and he’s willing to put in the work to get better.”

Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish has overhauled the look of the goaltending depth of the organization since coming aboard. Nagelvoort and Bouchard are now a part of that mix.

“I think it says a lot about the staff they’ve got here,” Nagelvoort said. “Obviously they were out looking for goalies and I think just looking at the camp here and some of the names they have up in the NHL that they obviously have been looking for goalies and they’ve found a bunch of guys so it’s cool to be a part of that. Just to see some of these guys and know my name is with their’s is pretty nice.”

Both new goalies should see plenty of ice time this season and the Oilers and their fans will be able to track their development.

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