The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is fast approaching and the anticipation of who-goes-where is rapidly growing with hockey fans. Among the questions surrounding the draft are where the many goaltenders of this year’s crop of prospects will end up.
The June 21-22 draft has some elite goalie prospects in it. There’s talk that we may even see a goalie taken in the first round, something that has only happened twice since 2013 (In 2015 the Washington Capitals selected Ilya Samsonov 22nd and in 2017 the Dallas Stars picked Jake Oettinger 26th). This year’s selection could be higher than both of them.
Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition
While there is one goaltender who looks to be at a level above the others, after him, it opens up pretty significantly and there are variations of the order on nearly every ranking. As the anticipation for the NHL draft grows, here are the top 10 goalies that could be selected later this month.
10. Hugo Alnefelt
NHL Central Scouting rank: 2nd (among EU goalies)
Swedish goaltender Hugo Alnefelt played for HV71 J20 this past season, in a very up-and-down season. But with his stellar international play, he just cracks this top 10 list, edging out Hunter Jones, Colten Ellis and Isaiah Saville. These goalies may very well be taken as well, but they likely won’t crack the top-10 of netminders taken.
Alnefelt helped team Sweden to an IIHF U18 World Hockey Championship gold medal while carrying a 2.75 goals-against average (GAA) and a .921 save percentage (SV%). He was voted one of the top three players on his team for his efforts. His regular season wasn’t as good, in 24 games he had a 2.59 GAA and a .905 SV%.
While his butterfly is one of his best qualities, there’s lots to like. He has good positioning, cutting down the angles on shooters very well. What sees him drop in the goaltender rankings though, is his tracking. Over the course of the season, there were times that he lost the puck, resulting in goals that should not have gone in. He’s just 18-years-old, so he may improve over time, but some NHL teams may not want to take that gamble.
9. Lukas Parik
NHL Central Scouting rank: 3rd (among EU goalies)
Czech goalie Lukas Parik had a very similar season to Alnefelt, in that the regular season was average and his international play seemed to shine a light on the talent that he has.
At the 2019 U18s, his 3.54 GAA doesn’t look good at first. But when you combine that with a .924 SV% (which was third-best in the tournament) and the fact that he was playing on a below-average Czech team, the 3.54 GAA isn’t really a major drawback for the netminder. During his regular season with Bili Tygri Liberec U19, he played 32 games, recording a 2.85 GAA and a pretty solid .917 SV%.
Parik has great movement in the net, which is one of his best qualities. He’s got great hockey sense, which allows him to anticipate passes and react quickly. However, there are moments where he loses his technique and scrambles to keep the puck out of the net. Due to this, his ceiling at this point looks to be average at best. Even so, there will likely still be an NHL team that takes a chance on the young goalie with the hope he develops to his highest potential.
8. Taylor Gauthier
NHL Central Scouting rank: 7th (among NA goalies)
The “backwards” goalie of the bunch, Prince George Cougars’ Taylor Gauthier is a right-handed catcher which provides an extra challenge for shooters who are so used to goalies who catch with their left hand.
In 55 games this season, Gauthier had a 3.25 GAA and .899 SV%. While those aren’t the best numbers, he played on a team that finished last in the Western Conference. At the Hlinka Gretzky Memorial Cup, he played two games and had a 1.11 GAA and a .943 SV%., helping the team to a gold medal and showing what he’s really capable of.
While he needs to work on consistency and there are times where he makes some bad decisions, there’s potential in Gauthier. He is an extremely athletic goalie, and as The Athletic’s Corey Pronman says, he is the “most athletic netminder of his draft class.” He has elite movement, especially post-to-post. Gauthier is definitely worth gambling on for the NHL team that drafts him. (from, “Pronman’s 2019 NHL Draft Board: Top goalie prospects” – The Athletic – May 23, 2019).
7. Amir Miftakhov
NHL Central Scouting rank: 8th (among EU goalies)
Russian goalie Amir Miftakhov is a second-year eligible prospect who many thought would be drafted at the 2018 draft. He slid to this year and should be taken after a solid season in Russia’s VHL.
He played 33 games for Bars Kazan, earning a 2.40 GAA and a .919 SV%. He also played two games in the MHL with similar numbers: 2.38 GAA and .921 SV%. He was the backup for Team Russia at the 2019 IIHF U20 World Hockey Championship and could very well be a go-to goalie for Russia’s international competition moving forward.
There’s high-end potential from Miftakhov for sure. He’s very athletic, reads the play well, and has great movement in the crease. He can steal a game for his team, which is a must-have for an NHL goalie. At the same time, there have been times where he lets in soft goals and at 6-foot there will be some teams that will question if he’s good enough to make up for his small size.
6. Trent Miner
NHL Central Scouting rank: 6th (among NA goalies)
Canadian goalie Trent Miner became a large part of the Vancouver Giants’ season and playoff run this season. He started as the backup, but then split games with Arizona Coyotes prospect David Tendeck, playing 32 himself. He put up a 1.98 GAA and .924 SV%, which were each the third-best statistics in the league (minimum 15 games played).
Miner’s biggest attribute seems to be his hockey sense. He anticipates passes, which allows him to seemingly always be in position. He always knows what’s going on in his end, which is a big advantage to have. His puck handling is among the best of his draft class and he plays a very technically-sound game. However, he’s not the most agile goalie in the draft. Combined with his size (6-foot-1), this might be a red flag for some teams.
5. Ilya Konovalov
NHL Central Scouting rank: 4th (among EU goalies)
This will be Russian goaltender Ilya Konovalov’s fourth time at the draft and should be the year he’s finally drafted. He’s among the leaders of the goaltending draft class in hockey sense, which makes up for his 6-foot frame.
His regular season with the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was outstanding, playing 45 games and recording a 1.89 GAA and a .930 SV%. His numbers did drop a little bit in the playoffs though, to a 2.42 GAA and .905 SV% in eight games.
Konovalov has incredible tracking of the puck and seems to never lose it even in the toughest of situations. His calm presence in the net is arguably one of his most desirable attributes and a great indication that he has the tools to play in the NHL. Like a number of goalies this year, he’s a bit on the smaller size, but he has a lot of skills that should attract NHL attention.
4. Dustin Wolf
NHL Central Scouting rank: 12th (among NA goalies)
Everett Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf had an incredible season in the WHL this past season, in just his second campaign. He played in 61 games, recording an impressive 1.69 GAA and .936 SV%. His number dipped slightly in the playoffs but were still respectable, with a 2.02 GAA and .916 SV%.
Wolf can have big games where he’s technically sound, then come back the next game and fight the puck. He needs to work on his consistency, but that should come as he continues to develop. Some scouts seem to worry if he can bring his game to the NHL, but there’s definitely raw, high-end talent here that a team will likely gamble on at the draft.
3. Mads Søgaard
NHL Central Scouting rank: 2nd (among NA goalies)
In a draft class of “small” goalies, Mads Søgaard stands out among them, literally. He’s a massive prospect, at 6-foot-7, yet has the movement of a goaltender six inches smaller. While there have been times where he’s caught out of position, his frame allows him to still make the save.
Søgaard had a 2.64 GAA and a .921 SV% with the Medicine Hat Tigers in his rookie season. When comparing these stats to other goaltenders who played 30-plus games, he ranks seventh and fourth in the WHL, respectively.
Some are wary about him after the 2019 U20 World Junior Championship where he went 0-5 with a 6.16 GAA and an .802 SV%. Not what he wanted, but his season in the WHL should give a closer look at what he’s capable of rather than one tournament playing behind a weak Team Denmark. He’s well worth the risk for the team that selects him.
2. Pyotr Kochetkov
NHL Central Scouting rank: 1st (among EU goalies)
Entering his third draft, Pyotr Kochetkov looks to be one of the first goalies taken off the board this year after breaking out this season in the VHL with the HK Ryazan. In his 18 games, the goaltender had a 2.13 GAA and a .930 SV%. He also had two games in the KHL with HK Sochi, finishing with a 2.57 GAA and a .911 SV%.
Where he really stood out was on the international stage. Playing on the U20 Russian Selects in the CIBC Canada/Russia Series, Kochetkov played in three games, posting a 3-0 record and letting just two goals in. He had a 0.67 GAA, a .978 SV% and had one shutout against the CHL’s best. At the 2019 World Junior Championship, he helped Team Russia to a bronze medal and was named the best goaltender of the tournament, posting a remarkable 1.45 GAA and a .953 SV%.
He’s an athletic goaltender with great technique. He’s able to hold that technique very well in high-stress scenarios but can break it in desperation moments where he needs to. He covers the bottom of the net exceptionally, and his vision is near the top of the draft class. He anticipates passes, moves post-to-post smoothly and has good positioning. He has a very good chance to one day be a starter in the NHL.
1. Spencer Knight
NHL Central Scouting rank: 1st (among NA goalies)
Finally, we come to the unanimously-ranked number one goalie for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. It’s not even close either. Spencer Knight of the USNTDP is such a highly-touted prospect that some think he may even be selected in the first round. At the very least, he should go early in the second.
With the U.S. National U18 Team, he had 2.36 GAA and .913 SV% in 33 games and added a 2.21 GAA and .903 SV% in 16 games with the USNTDP Juniors. At the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship, he had a tournament-best 1.51 GAA and .936 SV%, helping Team USA to the bronze medal.
He has the best positioning of the draft class, can read the play with ease and finds a way to make one move when other goalies would need two or three. He has great hockey IQ and makes the smart save rather than the big save. There’s so much to like in his game and he should end up as a starting NHL goaltender for the team that drafts him. He’s by far the safest goaltending bet in the draft.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.