2019-20 Team: Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Date of Birth: May 28, 2002
Place of Birth: Grande Praire, Alberta
Ht: 6’2” Wt: 170 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 First-Year Draft Eligible
As a 17-year-old rookie taking on significant playing time with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, Garin Bjorklund did everything that could be asked of him and more. While he was expected to be just a backup to teammate and 2019 second-round pick Mads Sogaard, by mid-season he was showcasing why he would be the future for the team in net.
While Sogaard was away playing for Denmark at the WJC-20, Bjorklund stepped up in his place, putting together solid start after solid start. No, they weren’t flawless games, but it was often enough to keep his team within striking distance of a win.
And win he did. By the end of the abbreviated 2019-20 season, Bjorklund had posted an impressive 20-5-1 record, placing him third amongst rookie goaltenders for wins in the WHL. While his overall statistics weren’t necessarily impressive, as he posted a 2.91 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage, for his age he showed that he has the talent to, at the very least, hold his own.
Garin Bjorklund – NHL Draft Projection
While Bjorklund may not be the most highly valued prospect heading into the 2020 NHL draft, he still is very likely to get selected this year. Many have him pegged to go early in the sixth round, with a late fifth-round selection not being too far out of the question.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
However, drafting goaltenders can be a bit weird. Sometimes there’s a run on the position in the late-second and early third round, causing a player like Bjorklund to suddenly rise in the draft. If that happens, he could go as soon as the fourth-round, with a late third-round selection not being out of the question if a team falls in love with him.
Bjorklund was a key factor in Medicine Hat’s 41-19-2-1 season, closing out his shortened campaign with a 2.91 goals-against average, an .897 save percentage and a lengthy highlight reel of game-changing stops.Ryan McCracken (from ‘Top 5: Tigers’ Bjorklund ranked fifth among North American goalies,’ Medicine Hat News, 04/09/2020)
“I think Bjorklund played great when we needed him when Mads was gone,” Desjardins said. “He stepped up and played well and won some big games for us on the road.”Glen Erickson – dubnetwork.ca
- NHL-caliber build
- Lots of experience for a young goaltender
- Can handle pressure and make a game-winning save
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs to slow the game down in net
- Hasn’t taken on a full starting workload yet
- Still has very raw talent
Related THW Draft Profiles
There’s no more difficult position to draft in the NHL than a goaltender. Since there are relatively few selected each year and so only a handful of starting jobs in the league, it’s unlikely that someone drafted in the fifth-round or later could eventually even be a back-up.
That being said, Bjorklund has the build and potential of an NHL starter. As he continues to get more and more playing time with Medicine Hat during the 2020-21 season, we will see if he has what it takes to handle a starting workload. If he does, then in a few years he could be ready to take on an AHL stint and from there, anything can happen.
2/5 Risk, 5/5 Reward
When it comes down to it, there’s always some risk involved with drafting a goaltender. If Bjorklund is taken any sooner than late fourth-round, then that risk gets even higher, as it will be years before he will be ready to challenge for AHL playing time, let alone an NHL job.
Related: THW’s 2020 Mock NHL Draft Round 1
If he is selected in the fifth or later, however, that would set expectations properly. Bjorklund is a project who will need time to develop his game. If he is given that time, then the payout could be immense, especially for a franchise with weak goaltending depth.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.