For the second time in three years, there’s a strong possibility that the opening round of the NHL Entry Draft will have 30 teams pick only forwards and defensemen, leaving goaltenders on the outside looking in.
In 2007, Joel Gistedt from Finland was the first goaltender selected as the sixth pick in the second round, marking the first time since 1992 where the opening round was absent of a goaltender.
But according to both the International Scouting Service and the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, the odds of a dufflebag being chosen in this year’s opening round are pretty slim.
E.J. Maguire, head of the CSB, said that regardless of whether or not there are talented goaltenders available, teams are becoming more cautious and may not be willing to spend a first-round pick on a goalie.
“Goaltenders develop later,” said Maguire. “Are you going to use a first-rounder unless it’s Marc-Andre Fleury? Even he took a while. This year, even in the final, he won a Stanley Cup and you can’t take that away from him, but at times he was criticized [of his play in the finals].”
Maguire compared selecting goaltenders in hockey to NFL teams picking defensive backs.
“There’s something about a run on defensive backs in the NFL Draft and I think that trend will show itself Saturday [in the second round] where a goalie will get picked and then like a pandemic. [GMs] will say, ‘Holy [expletive], we better get a goalie here or he might not be around next time.
“There will be five goalies who go in a clump and then someone wakes up and picks a defenseman and a forward again and things go [back to normal].”
Maguire, though, admitted that this year’s crop of talent, similar to 2007, simply lacks a standout netminder.
“There is no shining star goalie,” said Maguire. “That’s not to predict that a shining star might not emerge out of there and the hindsight that we all have will say, ‘Yeah, he was pretty darn good.'”
So what are Maguire’s thoughts on when a goalie will finally walk to the stage?
“I don’t think you’ll see a goalie in the first 35 or so picks,” he said.