2018-19 Team: Everett Silvertips (#32)
Date of Birth: April 16, 2001
Place of Birth: Tustin, California
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 161 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- The Hockey Writers (Pike’s Picks): 47th (final)
- Future Considerations: 82nd (final)
- ISS: outside of first round (April)
- Bob McKenzie: outside of top 15 (April; draft lottery update)
- Craig Button: outside of top 93 (June)
Increasingly, the National Hockey League is becoming known as a place where players of any size can thrive if they’re good enough. In 2018-19 two of the league’s top 10 scorers were listed at 5-foot-9, while half of the top 10 were shorter than six feet. The one area where giants still roam is in net.
Last season, the top Western Hockey League goaltender was Carter Hart of he Everett Silvertips. He graduated to the pro ranks this past season and his backup, Dustin Wolf, took over the net for the Silvertips. While he didn’t dominate the league like Hart did, it was pretty close.
At 5-foot-11 (according to the WHL), Wolf is short for a goaltender. That said, his workload tripled in Hart’s absence and his numbers didn’t just stay strong – they improved. He was one of the top goaltenders in all of junior hockey, regardless of age. Equal parts poised, aggressive and positionally sound, Wolf helped backstop the ‘Tips to another strong season.
Wolf was ranked 12th among North American goaltenders in Central Scouting’s final rankings and it probably shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the 11 goalies ranked ahead of him are all larger than him. The challenge for scouts is projecting if Wolf’s style of play can project to higher levels – former Moose Jaw Warriors netminder Zach Sawchenko had superb numbers, but was even smaller than Wolf and so he never got a pro opportunity.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
If Wolf was a couple inches taller, he might be in the conversation for being a first round pick. He’s that good. But he’s small for a goaltender, so while his talent is undeniable and his numbers are gaudy, his size imposes risks on a team because at the higher levels of hockey everyone’s bigger, faster and stronger and so having a bit of extra body size to block pucks makes a big difference.
Wolf’s an impressive player at the major junior level. Time will tell if he can be more than that, but at the very least his success thus far should merit him being selected somewhere in the middle rounds of the 2019 NHL Draft
Dustin Wolf – NHL Draft Projection
The general consensus among rankers is that Wolf probably goes sometime in the third round. There’s a slight chance he could slide to the early fourth round.
“The recently turned 18-year-old had himself a heck of a draft-eligible campaign. After posting solid results as a 16-year-old backup in Everett, the 6′ tall netminder took over the starting role and ran with it in 2018-19. When the dust had settled, he ended up leading the WHL in games played (61), goals-against (1.69), save percentage (0.936). He was named a WHL First Team All-Star for his efforts. He also brought home the CHL Scholastic Player of the Year by maintaining a 100 percent rate throughout his grade 12 year! The athletic goalie boasts sound mechanics and manages to keep himself large in the net. He’s projected to be selected somewhere in the 50-75 range this June and could be the second goaltender off of the board.” – Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
- Very poised in net, doesn’t often get rattled.
- Rebound control is pretty solid.
- He’s effective at cutting down angles with positioning.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- He’s not large, so he has to really rely on strong positioning to make stops.
- Needs to work on his puck-handling.
Other 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
Wolf projects to be a strong secondary goaltender, but his size could be a barrier to him become a bonafide NHL starter.
Risk – 1.5/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Wolf represented the United States at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He was the WHL and CHL Scholastic Player of the Year in 2018-19, and led the WHL in goals against average and save percentage.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.