2015-16 Team: Sherbrooke Phoenix (#1)
Date of birth: January 28th, 1998
Place of birth: St. John’s, Newfoundland
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 222 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking (February): Unranked
- Craig Button (TSN): Unranked
- HockeyProspect.com: Unranked
Evan Fitzpatrick was a highly touted goaltender leading up to his QMJHL Draft year, snagging first team all-star honours in his midget league and drawing comparisons to a young Roberto Luongo before being selected fourth overall in the 2014 QMJHL Draft. Backstopping a much-improved Sherbrooke Phoenix squad in his rookie season, Fitzpatrick split starts with fellow goaltender Alex Bureau and put up middling stats in an inconsistent season, despite flashes of occasional brilliance. Despite failing to crack Canada’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament team, Fitzpatrick still entered his sophomore season with high hopes and the undisputed job for a Phoenix team with legitimate playoff aspirations.
Fitzpatrick failed to take a substantial leap forward in his second year with Sherbrooke, despite playing in 54 games and leading the Phoenix to a second straight playoff appearance. He struggled with inconsistencies throughout the season, as his Sherbrooke team took a step back and his mediocre stats from a season prior improved marginally. Fitzpatrick’s draft stock remains high, however, as the skill level and high ceiling that made him a star prospect are still apparent on many nights. He stands a solid 6 feet 3 inches and well over 200 pounds, so his frame is already nearly pro-ready and alleviates the durability concern that plagues many tall, young goaltenders.
Ftizpatrick’s quickness and technical skills are also top notch, and he has shown the ability to put his team on his back in the past. His status as a top prospect was cemented in backstopping Team Canada at the World Under-18 Championship, despite finishing the tournament with a game to forget and failing to capture a medal for the first time since 2011. He was often the Canadians’ best player, and proved that he has the ability to shine when surrounded by the top players in his age group. His strong performances in big situations was nothing new, as he posted one of the top save percentages in his playoff run with Sherbrooke, albeit while being part of a Phoenix team that was eliminated in the first round.
While he moves well laterally and showcased his quickness with several highlight-reel saves, he also has shown a penchant for unraveling after allowing a bad goal. As Penguins goaltender Matt Murray’s incredible playoff run this year has shown, mental calmness and the ability to stay focused through turmoil plays a large part in the success of a professional goaltender. Contrary to the beginning of the season, Fitzpatrick stands little chance of being the first goaltender chosen in the NHL Draft. However, his potential to emerge as a top-flight goaltender in the NHL should still be enough for a team to take a chance on him with a fairly high pick.
NHL Draft Projection:
Goalie stats from the QMJHL have been historically less impressive than those of the other two CHL leagues, but Fitzpatrick’s sub-.900 save percentage reflects his inconsistencies playing for a mediocre Sherbrooke team. His size, athleticism and sky-high potential should still make him a top 90 pick in June, however.
Evan Fitzpatrick is a hybrid style netminder… He’s also very technically sound for a young netminder, with rebound control not often seen in someone his age. He also has an excellent glove hand, taking away the top of the net. Fitzpatrick tracks the puck well and his lateral movement is excellent… has an excellent push with his legs, giving him strong lateral movement…. has extremely good athleticism. Even if out of position, Fitzpatrick never gives up on a play, and makes some highlight reel saves as a result. He could use some work on playing the puck in his own end, developing the ability to make a strong outlet pass to his defenders could help his game. Goaltenders are difficult to predict, however it would appear that Evan Fitzpatrick has all the skills necessary to make it in the NHL. He will be a bit of a long-term investment as he will likely spend the next two years in the QMJHL, followed by some time at the AHL level before he is ready.
Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
- Great athleticism
- Rebound control
- Technically/positionally sound
- Has shown ability to steal games
— Halifax Mooseheads (@HFXMooseheads) March 31, 2016
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Puckhandling ability
- Tracking the puck
- Game to game consistency
Fitzpatrick has one of the highest ceilings of any goaltender in this draft, and already possesses the size and strength to be a workhorse in the pros. However, he’s still fairly inconsistent and must iron out some bad habits before he can take the next step and become an NHL starting goaltender.
NHL Player(s) Comparison – Roberto Luongo
Risk = 3/5 Reward = 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Goaltending = 8.5/10
CHL Top Prospects Game (skip to 2:06)
Shots From the Slot (Interesting Notes):
Fitzpatrick, highly touted coming out of midget hockey, was the first goaltender chosen in the first round of the QMJHL Draft in the three years preceding his draft year (2014).
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Joseph Aleong is an At-Large writer for THW from Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Follow him on Twitter @josephaleong11