2019-20 Team: Kamloops Blazers (#31)
Date of Birth: June 7, 2002
Place of Birth: Victoria, British Columbia
Ht: 6-foot-0 Wt: 172 lbs.
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 6th (among NA goalies)
- Elite Prospects: 64th
- Larry Fisher (The Hockey Writers): 127th
- Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News): 106th
- Steve Kournianos (The Draft Analyst): 151st
Drafting goalies has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Take Jordan Binnington — he was the third-highest rated North American goalie in 2011 and was the fifth goalie selected when he was drafted 88th overall by the St. Louis Blues. He wouldn’t make his NHL debut until 2015-16, appearing in just one game where he posted a 0.750 save percentage (SV%). His next start wouldn’t come until 2018-19 as an injury replacement, forcing him into a starting role. Yet, after 32 games, he had a 0.927 SV%, and he carried the Blues through the playoffs to their first Stanley Cup win.
Taken ahead of Binnington were Magnus Hellberg (38th), John Gibson (39th), Chris Gibson (49th), Samu Perhonen (62nd), and David Honzik (71st). Apart from Gibson, no one established themselves in the NHL. Examples like 2011 have made NHL teams incredibly hesitant to draft goalies early in the draft unless they show other-worldly talent. The 2020 draft will be no exception to that rule — after Yaroslav Askarov, who’s drawn comparisons to Carey Price, the goalie class does not seem that promising and another goalie will likely not go until the third round. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting candidates who will likely find themselves an NHL team.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Dylan Garand could be one of them. Playing in his second full Western Hockey League (WHL) campaign, he made some big strides this season, helping the Kamloops Blazers rise to one of the top teams in the league before the remainder of the season was canceled. Starting 42 games — one of the highest workloads in the WHL — he recorded 2.21 goals-against-average (GAA) and a 0.921 SV%, both within the top-five among WHL starters. While the Blazers iced a strong team in front of him, Garand’s 28 wins stood third amongst starters and was a major reason they were able to win their division and reach fifth in the league.
His biggest strength is arguably his glove hand, which can whip out and make highlight-reel worthy saves night after night. He’s also very patient in net and his positioning is strong, allowing him to move very little to get into the shooter’s lane. Down low, he’s very hard to beat and although he can leave a bit of room at the top, his quick glove can often cover up his mistakes.
But many scouts seem to have pushed Garand to the bottom of the class, largely due to his size. While height has become less of a factor among forwards and defensemen — see Alex DeBrincat and Quinn Hughes — it has become even more important with goalies. At 6-foot-1, Garand is considered by some to be too small for the NHL. His occasional struggles with high shots don’t help his case, either. But there are several “smaller” goalies in the NHL who have had plenty of success; Binnington is also 6-foot-1, while Antti Raanta is 6-foot-0 and Juuse Saros is 5-foot-11.
His game does lack the refinement of some others available at the 2020 draft, and there is still the factor of him playing with a strong team that likely boosted some of his stats. Yet the potential is there, and it brings us back to the first point that goalies are very hard to project in today’s NHL, especially at 18 years old. Goalies are making their NHL debuts later and later, giving them plenty of time to develop into talented netminders. Garand has shown he has the skills to be a top goalie, and given time, could be well worth the late pick he will likely be.
Other THW Profiles
Dylan Garand – Draft Projection
Regardless of his potential, Garand will likely find himself taken in the sixth or seventh round. Only one major source ranked him within the top-100. A good comparison for his draft projection is Everett Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf, who was easily the best goalie in the WHL this season. He put up even better stats last season, yet he still was selected in the seventh round by the Calgary Flames, due to his smaller 6-foot frame. While Garand doesn’t look to be quite as talented as Wolf, there’s a chance that whoever snaps him up this year could have a steal on their hands much like the Flames look like they do now.
“The Kamloops netminder is the top-ranked Canadian netminder on most draft boards but he is getting overshadowed by some very high-end European goalies. Garand does a good job of staying square to the shooter, moving well on his feet with good body control. He is laterally quick and has a solid base when in the butterfly. He needs to get stronger, especially in his core and lower body to help stay upright while getting a good push side to side.” Tony Ferarri, Dobber Prospects
“His numbers are right there with Team Canada’s Joel Hofer who is playing on a more dominant team in Portland. And it’s not as though Kamloops is some defensive juggernaut, this is a team who has played pretty wide open hockey this season. I love the way Garand moves in net. He’s very technically sound with terrific reflexes. If this kid’s ability to track the puck can catch up to the rest of his game, he will be an NHL goaltender even at this size.” Tyler Campbell, The Oil Knight
- Glove hand
- Down low coverage
- High potential
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Coverage on high shots
Given time, Garand could develop into a solid NHL starting goalie. His draft season stats are comparable to Carter Hart’s in 2015-16, although Hart played 20 more games than the Blazers’ netminder behind a weaker team. It’s really anyone’s guess as to how Garand will develop, and it will almost certainly take him several seasons before he is NHL ready. If a team is willing to be patient, like the Blues were in 2011, then Garand could prove to be a hidden gem of 2020. But only time will tell — as the old adage goes, goalies are voodoo.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Against his peers at the 2019-20 Hlinka Gretzky U18 tournament this season, Garand had one of the best GAA’s with 1.51, where he won a silver medal, and was the best Canadian goalie at the U17 World Hockey Championship in 2018-19. He also was awarded the 2020 WHL Scholastic Player of the Year for his high academic standing.
An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.