Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Team: Boston University (HE)
When scanning NHL rosters, you'll quickly notice that there aren't many goaltenders holding down jobs that hail from the State of Minnesota. In fact, just three of the 24 active NHL goaltenders (Alex Stalock, Zane McIntyre, Charlie Lindgren) were groomed in the "State of Hockey".
Enter Lakeville, Minn. product Jake Oettinger, a talented netminder with a strong developmental pedigree poised to add to that number.
A product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Oettinger possesses ideal size at 6-foot-4 and has the athleticism to match. He is very composed in the crease, calmly tracking the puck with fluid movement and excellent technique assisted by his big upper body that allows him to cover a great deal of the net.
Oettinger was tested out of the box this season as a true freshman at Boston University, posting a 21-11-3 record with a 2.11 goals-against average and .927 save percentage to earn a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team as well as the conference Second All-Star Team.
He also served as the third goaltender at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, which likely sets the table for him to carry the load in his final year of eligibility when the 2018 edition is played in Buffalo.
Oettinger, who began playing the sport as a defenseman, didn't convert to goaltender until age 10. Perhaps his experience and perspective as a skater assists his positional intelligence as he seems to read and process the game at a high level.
With one year of college under his belt, Oettinger likely won't be pressured into a fast track to the NHL. Goalies need to see as many pucks as possible, and his current situation seems to offer a great opportunity as he could feasibly play two more seasons as the undisputed cornerstone for a program that is consistently luring the top recruiting classes.
Winning a national championship or two before trying his hand at the pro game can only help his long-term development.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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