2022-23 Team: U.S. National U17 Team / NTDP
Date of Birth: May 19, 2005
Place of Birth: Sherburn, MN, USA
Height: 6-foot-4, Weight: 214 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: First-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting (NA Goaltenders): 8th
- Elite Prospects: *Notable Prospect
- FCHockey: 93rd
- TSN (Craig Button): 82nd
A trend in the NHL is the rise of the big goaltending prospect. While these players may not always have the most polished toolkit, their size and raw ability are tantalizing enough that they warrant a selection in the later rounds and then given time to develop their game. If they are able to put it all together, they can become a dominant force by utilizing their skills and natural size to swallow shots and block off chances that others simply can’t get to. An example in recent years is Akira Schmid, who was a fifth-round selection but developed his 6-foot-5 frame into a potential starter for the New Jersey Devils.
Heading into the 2023 NHL Draft, the prospect that best fits this description is Carsen Musser of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Clocking in at 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, he is one of the largest prospects in his class, and he is able to use this size to cover the net from odd angles.
If you focus on things like Save Percentage (SV%) and Goals Against Average (GAA), you will see some fairly middling numbers across various leagues he played in throughout the 2022-23 season, but those aren’t what makes him an appealing prospect.
No, it’s his ability to track the puck, hold a tight stance, cut off shooting angles, and his raw size that will entice general managers. His toolkit may be rough, but there are glimpses of a dominant goaltender that will take a lot of time to develop. It’s also worth noting that Musser is committed to playing hockey at Colorado College starting in 2024-25, so he will have one more season playing for the NTDP/USHL before starting college for up to four more years.
So, whoever selects Musser will know that they are taking on a project, but it is a project that already has the path in place to develop and could pay dividends down the road.
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Carsen Musser – NHL Draft Projection
Musser is an incredibly interesting prospect because he has a lot of those intangibles that general managers fall in love with, but also will take a lot of time before this skillset will be seen on the ice. This may cause some to shy away from selecting him early, but I could also see someone taking a shot on him sooner than expected with the idea that they can fix his shortcomings.
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With this in mind, I would expect Musser to be selected in Rounds 4 or 5, somewhere between picks 95 to 110. This is often the range when teams are more likely to take a swing on a long-term goaltending prospect, especially if they have multiple picks in the round.
He’s a kid that you know what you’re going to get out of him every day… The way he approaches every day, his work ethic, his character — it’s all tremendous. He’s a great person, a great teammate and I think we’ve seen Carsen put in so much work and just continue to get better here.”Dan Muse – USNTDP U18 Head Coach
Musser, who has the height that instantly makes him a goalie to be aware of, prefers to address shots from a butterfly stance. He shows good athleticism in pre-shot movement and puck tracking but tends to favor a more stoic blocking style that allows him to utilize his size and willingness to challenge shooters and cut down angles… I see Musser more as a later round target in the 2023 draft who will require a significant instructional investment before settling into a possible backup role in the NHL.Shaun Richardson (from ‘November 18, 2022 Scouting Report of Carsen Musser,’ FCHockey, November 18, 2022)
- Understands how to use his size to take away the net from the shooter
- Great toolkit
- One of the biggest goalies in the draft
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Fundamentals have to improve to match his robust toolkit.
If he is able to master his size and hone his skillset, there is an NHL future for Musser. The league loves big goaltenders with strong toolkits, so if he is able to show continual growth, I would expect him to be given plenty of opportunities to prove he can make it in the league.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
First, I expect Musser to play a full college career and then continue on in the AHL for a few more years. At the least, I believe he can be an AHL starter who acts as a team’s third-string option that is able to flex into a backup role when called upon.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 3/5