Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a save against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period in game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Science (Or Lack Thereof) Of Drafting Goaltenders


When it comes to drafting goalies, there is no exact science to predict the development of an 18 year old netminder.  In fact, it seems more good luck than good management when looking behind the mask.

Of the top 60 goalies in terms of wins in the NHL this past season, there were more drafted 150th or later (or undrafted) than were first round picks.  Thirteen goalies were first round picks while 21 were late picks.

Goalie Draft # Year G taken before
Khabibulin 204 1992 16
Theodore 44 1994 4
Hedberg 218 1994 20
Nabokov 219 1994 21
Vokoun 226 1994 22
Giguere 13 1995 0
Biron 16 1995 1
Kiprusoff 116 1995 11
Garon 44 1996 1
Backstrom undrafted 1996 23
Luongo 4 1997 0
Clemmensen 215 1997 16
LaBarbera 66 1998 4
McDonald undrafted 1998 23
Anderson 77 1999 7
Miller 138 1999 16
Bryzgalov 44 2000 2
Ellis 60 2000 4
Lundqvist 205 2000 21
Fasth undrafted 2000 32
Hiller undrafted 2000 32
Budaj 63 2001 5
Anderson 73 2001 6
Emery 99 2001 9
Smith 161 2001 19
Niemi undrafted 2001 33
Lehtonen 2 2002 0
Ward 25 2002 1
Gustavsson undrafted 2002 33
Fleury 1 2003 0
Crawford 52 2003 1
Howard 64 2003 2
Halak 271 2003 26
Eliott 291 2003 28
Montoya 6 2004 0
Dubnyk 14 2004 1
Schneider 26 2004 3
Peters 38 2004 5
Khudobin 206 2004 20
Rinne 258 2004 29
Scrivens undrafted 2004 33
Price 5 2005 0
Rask 21 2005 1
Pavelec 41 2005 4
Quick 72 2005 7
Bishop 85 2005 8
Bernier 11 2006 0
Varlamov 23 2006 2
Neuvirth 34 2006 4
Enroth 46 2006 5
Mason 69 2006 6
Reimer 99 2006 10
Bachman 120 2006 14
Johnson 125 2006 15
Bobrovsky undrafted 2006 26
Markstrom 31 2008 2
Allen 34 2008 3
Holtby 93 2008 9
Lindback 207 2008 22
Lehner 46 2009 1

Obviously there are goalies who have come and gone in the years between Khabibulin and Lehner, but it stands to reason that longevity is a factor and the fact is, a goalie in drafted in the first round stands a better chance of not making it than making it.  Not that the same doesn’t hold true for other position players, but it seems like taking a goalie in the first round is an incredible gamble.

Less than half of the goalies taken in the first round between 1992 and 2009 (20 of 43) played any significant NHL time and even fewer were impact goalies.  I would provide a number but it would be purely subjective as to what constitutes an “impact goalie”.

YR Goalies in 1st Rd Signif Playing Time
2009 0 0
2008 2 0
2007 0 0
2006 4 2
2005 2 2
2004 4 2
2003 1 1
2002 3 2
2001 4 1
2000 2 1
1999 3 0
1998 2 0
1997 4 1
1996 1 0
1995 4 4
1994 4 3
1993 3 1
1992 0 0

However, it could be getting better.  Between 2002 and 2006, 9 of 14 first round goalies have had significant playing time. Still, it is a guessing game rather than an exact science, no matter what the scouting community would have you believe.

This year, there is only one goalie, Zachary Fucale from the Halifax Mooseheads, who is a consensus first round pick.  Does the past history of goaltending question marks mean that his stock might drop and he would be taken later than he should?  Or does it mean that since he is a consensus first round pick that he is clearly the best goalie available and thus his stock might rise.

We will find out this afternoon.

Tags: Drafting Nhl Goalies Popular