2020-21 Team: North Bay Battalion
Date of Birth: Oct. 24, 2002
Place of Birth: Dunvegan, ON, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-6 Wt: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 6th (amongst NA goaltenders)
Joe Vrbetic has undergone a strong transition from a midget AAA starting goaltender to one of the most consistent players in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League). He is currently in his third season with the North Bay Battalion, but he has struggled to play games due to provincial restrictions on team sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vrbetic has spent most of his career moving across Ontario. He began playing hockey for the Eastern Ontario Wild as a 13-and-14-year-old. He later moved to the Greater Toronto Area to play for the Don Mills Flyers for one season before he joined the Powassan VooDoos of the NOJHL (Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League). He played 30 league games for Powassan, registering a 16-9-2 record.
The Battalion signed him during the 2018-19 season, and he made one appearance. He slowly earned himself a starting role in the team, and the Battalion became a strong team in the OHL thanks to Vrbetic’s goaltending and defensive display. He played 42 games in the 2019-20 season and had a save percentage of .881, a statistic that earned him a place in the OHL Second All-Rookie Team.
Vrbetic strong frame and height help him to be a physically dominant goaltender. He uses his height and body to encroach opposing players and is able to use his size to deflect the puck. Vrbetic has the physical structure to play as a goaltender, but his movement across the face of the goal needs to improve if he wants to become more agile.
Joe Vrbetic – 2021 NHL Draft Projection
Given that he has a B-grade rating, Vrbetic is projected to be a second- or third-round draft pick.
“He’s a huge kid. When he’s squaring to shooters and covering his angles well, Vrbetic is a brick wall.” – Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
“Vrbetic shows good positioning in the game and stays square to the play. He hugs the posts tightly but moves a little slow going side to side. Although he’s a little slower, with his height he is able to take up space in goal and stretch out across the goal line to make a pad save.” – Olivia McArter, FC Hockey
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
Vrbetic has been a standout goaltender at different levels of hockey, and many OHL scouts believe that he can mould into a reliable goaltender in the NHL.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5
Vrbetic won an HEO (Hockey Eastern Ontario) U14 championship in 2016, having finished the regular season with the league’s best GAA (1.79). He won a silver medal in the OGC-16 tournament in 2018. While Vrbetic was playing in the NOJHL during the 2018-19 season, he had the league’s best GAA.