Anthony Stolarz THW Close-Up:
Date of Birth: January 20, 1994
Place of Birth: Jackson, New Jersey
Height: 6’5″ Weight: 200 lbs.
Shoots: Left Catches: Left
NHL Draft Eligibility: First time eligible for 2012
NHL Central Scouting: #4 ranked North American Goalie
For complete coverage and analysis of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and its prospects, click here for Chris Ralph’s 2012 NHL Entry Draft Guide.
Anthony Stolarz has had a tremendous increase in draft stock over the past several months, but it should come as no surprise as the NAHL goalie has been on his game for the Corpus Christi IceRays during the 2011-2012 season. While many might not have heard of Stolarz before the 2011-2012 NAHL season, the goalie launched himself into exposure by putting forth a strong effort in the NAHL Showcase at the beginning of the most recent hockey season. As the NAHL hockey season progressed, Stolarz got more and more comfortable with the IceRays and his fantastic play through late-December indicated that the goalie was getting into quite a groove with his new team. Stolarz also managed to earn “NAHL Player of The Week” honors twice during the 2011-2012 season, but his biggest accomplishment that convinced scouts of his abilities was illustrated back in February.
After being selected to the NAHL 18U Selects team, Stolarz did everything in his power to convince everyone that they made the correct decision. Stolarz finished the NAHL Top Prospect tournament (2 GP) having played a shade above 90 minutes while only surrendering two goals and saving 55 of 57 shots (.965 Save Percentage) thrown his way. With the performance at the tournament, Stolarz improved his prospects of getting drafted and vaulted into the top 5 ranking for North American goalies. While the Top Prospects tournament helped Stolarz’s draft ranking and increased his exposure, the goalie did not relent as he finished the 2011-2012 NAHL season with a .920 Save Percentage, 2.84 GAA, and a 23-22-4 record. Stolarz had to face quite a few shots (1741) for the IceRays throughout the season, but it was well worth the effort as the American netminder found himself ranked above other North American goalies such as Jon Gillies, Chris Driedger, Andrey Makarov, Michael Houser, and Francois Tremblay.
While Stolarz’s unexpected rise has surprised many scouts and hockey fans, the goalie still has some work to do at the collegiate level as he committed to the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Division-I hockey program. At 6’5″, Stolarz definitely has the frame to be a successful NHL goalie and his experience in Nebraska Omaha’s collegiate program will only help the netminder refine his skills. Playing under the tutelage of Dean Blais will help Stolarz in his development and the team could use a confident goalie to help out a team that finished the 2011-2012 season with a 14-18-6 record. Not only will NCAA hockey provide Stolarz with a chance to play alongside youth his own age, but it should provide him with some much needed experience that could help him make the transition to professional hockey.
Another part of the big netminder’s upside is the development of his mental toughness as the goalie has illustrated a high level of mental acuity when describing his play and duties as a goaltender. Even though Stolarz could use some work on his technique, the goalie has admitted that he wants to face as many shots as possible as he continues to play hockey. The American netminder fashions himself as a Butterfly-style goal, but the goalie’s size will undoubtedly be one of his biggest assets come draft day.
Stolarz’s enthusiasm for the game and desire to get better will only make him more attractive to teams when draft day rolls around. Since he is a bit raw in terms of talent, some consider drafting Stolarz to be more of a project at this point rather than a sure-fire bet for success. However, if the goalie’s sample size has suggested anything, it is that he relishes playing when given an opportunity and strives to help his team in any way that he can. Stolarz might find himself drafted in the later rounds of the NHL Entry Draft, but any team that selects the big American goalie will be receiving a prospect that has the ability to become a strong starting goalie in the NHL and the mindset to make those around him better.
“In recent years the North American Hockey League has expanded to nearly 30 teams, which has forced teams to shed the dinosaur mentality and bring in some younger players. This past month the league held its annual showcase in Blaine, Minn., and while most NHL scouts in attendance were only being thorough, Corpus Christi IceRays goaltender Anthony Stolarz had scouts abuzz and is the NAHL’s first legitimate pro prospect since Pat Maroon. At 6-5, 200, Stolarz is a huge and confident butterfly goaltender in the Pekka Rinne mold with lively and long octopus-like limbs and remarkably fast feet for a goaltender his size. Despite wearing leg pads that are barely knee-high, he has a lot of layers to him as he battles hard, does well in traffic, and is a skillful and intelligent puckhandler. Stolarz was an unknown entering the showcase, but with his tools and after posting a .939 save percentage and allowing three goals in two games, he is now firmly on the map and will have NHL scouts making the trek out to see him this season.”
“Stolarz has the size that NHL teams covet in a net minder as he is 6’5 and covers the net well. Despite playing in a ‘weaker’ league; the NAHL, he posted solid numbers and single-handedly put the team on his back, falling just short of a playoff spot. He received a fair bit of notoriety in February for the NAHL Top Prospects game as he had a solid showing, a game that was heavily scouted by NHL teams. Stolarz has great athleticism and quickness. He can spring up and down in the butterfly with ease and plays a strong game in traffic. Stolarz needs to work on his overall technique and address his rebound control but he should receive proper guidance working with a full-time goal tending coach at Nebraska-Omaha next season.”
“Anthony is a real intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. Playing in the NAHL rarely offers a goaltender to earn a lot of exposure, but word travels fast, and as the season progressed, his reputation soared. He has the size and athleticism that all teams covet, and works hard on a daily basis. A New Jersey native and a product of the Empire Junior Hockey League, he has grown up without any true high-level goalie coaching, and because of this, he’s considered to be extremely raw-skilled. This makes him quite valuable heading into the draft, and a big reason why he likely soared in the CSS final rankings, then attended the NHL combine.”
- Profile: The Sudden Rise of Anthony Stolarz by Justin Goldman of The Goalie Guild (Interview and Prospect Breakdown)
- Sallows’ Draft Tracks: Anthony Stolarz by Dan Sallows of Future Considerations (Interview)
- Stolarz has not participated in any International Tournaments at this point and time.
Risk: 3/5 Reward: 5/5
Number 1 Starting Goalie
* See “THW Close-Up” section above.
- Utilizes his size very well.
- Very competitive and does not give up on plays.
- Good athleticism and lateral movements.
- Good hockey IQ.
- Wants to see the puck as often as possible.
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Needs to work on his technique a bit.
- Could use some work on his rebound control.
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
- Stolarz has said that he styles his game after Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.
Off The Iron (Interesting Notes):
- Stolarz is a New Jersey Devils fan and has even played some of his minor hockey with Martin Brodeur’s oldest son.
- Had a growth spurt during the summer of 2011 and played a bit of the 2011-2012 season for the Corpus Christi IceRays with smaller pads.