Certainly every team goes into the draft looking for quality prospects that can grow into NHL goaltenders. This year is no different.
It doesn't matter if the NHL team already has a reliable starter, because goaltender prospects are unpolished projects and will take at least three years longer than most forwards to merit NHL auditions. That might mean a seven to eight year development period.
Even the netminder prospects from the past few years who have warranted first round selections have not yet lived up to the projections that they had as 18-year olds when drafted.
In 2010, both Jack Campbell (11th overall) and Mark Visentin (27th overall) were first rounders. In 2008, Chet Pickard (18th overall) and Thomas McCollum (30th overall) were taken in the first. All were North Americans who were viewed extensively as juniors. All have met with various roadblocks, backward steps in development, and mediocre play. Those circumstances cast doubt as to whether they truly warranted selections over forwards and defensemen prospects who may already be knocking on the door of the NHL or playing.
There will be NHL teams whose "draft goal" it is to leave with one goalie. Yet most of the goalies will stay on a team's draft board, until the first or second one is taken by another team. At that point, teams will start trading additional late-round picks to move into the earlier slottings to start the run.
Besides the two prominent 'tenders presently playing in Europe, Andrei Vasilevski and Oscar Dansk, the NHL teams will have to decide how much size matters over skill & quickness as they rank the likes of Malcolm Subban, Matt Murray, Brandon Whitney, Anthony Stolarz, Jon Gillies, Francois Tremblay, Collin Olson, Daniel Altshuller, Joonas Korpisalo, Francois Brassard, Roman Will, Chris Driedger, Marek Langhammer, Corbin Boes, Patrik Bartosak, Jake Paterson, Nicholas Ellis, Etienne Marcoux, Philippe Trudeau, Frank Palazzese, and Zach Thompson.
There are also many goalies who are second and third year eligibles, due to not being selected in past few draft years, that have shown strong upward climbs in growing their games. This type of selection would give an NHL organization a player who might be a little closer to being ready to play than an 18-year old.
- Andrey Makarov is a Russian who chose to come over to play in the Canadian Junior system and has shown remarkable bounce back. He will be given consideration because of his showing at the World Juniors during Christmas time.
- Michael Houser was the Red Tilson Trophy winner as the Ontario Hockey League's most outstanding player, and is in his last year of draft eligibility.
- Matej Machovsky, Michael Morrison, Jaroslav Pavelka, Maxime Lagace, Tadeas Galansky, Robert Steeves, Matt McNeely, Peter Traber, Colin Stevens were all players that had a shot at getting drafted in their first year of eligibility last year.
It remains to be seen who the NHL Scouts deem worthy of selection…when the run begins.