Welcome back to our series where we countdown what we believe to be the Ottawa Senators top 10 prospects. We’ve got you covered if you missed out on our#10 ranked prospect, Shane Pinto and our #9 ranked prospect, Jonathan Davidsson.
#8 Mads Søgaard
Søgaard is the first and only goaltender to make an appearance in this top 10 prospect series. While some may think Gustavsson is the goalie of the future, Søgaard has already turned heads and seems to be the goaltender currently displaying the higher ceiling within the Senators’ goaltending pipeline.
Søgaard started the 2018-19 season backing up Senators’ 2017 sixth-round pick Jordan Hollett in Medicine Hat, but he stole the starting role midway through the season. He ended up playing 37 games in his WHL rookie season, posting a 19-8-2 record to go along with a .921 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.64 goals-against average (GAA). He also impressed in the playoffs where he displayed a .919 SV% in six games before being knocked out in the first round.
Hollett recently announced his departure from the Medicine Hat Tigers organization. The writing was on the wall as it seems Søgaard will be getting the majority of the starts for the Tigers next season. Hollett knew his hockey career was coming to an end, so he’s pursuing his academics instead.
The first thing that comes to mind when seeing Søgaard play is his size. Standing at 6-foot-7 and 196 pounds, it’s safe to say Søgaard’s size is definitely one of his strengths. He uses it to his advantage, as his good positioning and size make it much harder for a shooter to find a hole. His lateral movements are another key part of Søgaard’s game — he moves very well when in the butterfly position.
Søgaard is also a very calm presence on and off the ice. He won’t get frustrated if the game isn’t going his way. In the NHL, being able to control your emotions as a goaltender is an important asset. Take Carey Price for example — he has always been able to remain calm, even under substantial pressure.
“Huge pro presence. He moves extremely well for such a big goalie. Strong, efficient and quick lateral ability,”Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting (from ‘Mads Søgaard Prospect Profile’, NHL.com, 06/19/19)
Areas of Improvement for Søgaard
Søgaard will have to put some time in the gym over the next few years if he ever wants a shot at being an everyday NHL player. Because he’s so tall, his lanky frame can lead to pucks slipping through his body. When he does fill out his large frame, he should be able to cover extra parts of his crease and the net.
Søgaard could also stand to work on his rebound control, which has become extremely valuable at the NHL level. But those small details of the game should come along with experience.
Søgaard has shown his willingness to learn and improve his game if it will help him reach that next level. He even acknowledged the aspects of his game in which he must improve upon.
“Honestly, I’m just working on being fast, [having] quick feet, and being able to snap down into my butterfly real fast,”Mads Søgaard, (from ‘Søgaard embracing competition to make Senators’, NHL.com, 07/31/19)
Projection and NHL Comparison
As of right now, given his size and athleticism, Søgaard undoubtedly projects as an NHL starter. He was also the second goaltender selected in the 2019 NHL draft, which only increases people’s expectations for the young goalie. He’s perceived by many Senators fans to become the starting goalie of the future.
Unsurprisingly, it already seems as though Søgaard is drawing comparisons to former Ottawa Senators’ goaltender and three-time Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop. Both Bishop and Søgaard currently stand at 6-foot-7 and they both possess fantastic athleticism considering their large statures. If he can piece everything together, the Senators will have a fantastic goaltender in their possession.
Søgaard’s Expected NHL Debut
It’s always difficult to predict when a goaltender will be ready to make the jump to the NHL. The development path for goalies is also a much longer one compared to forwards and defensemen. I expect Søgaard to play out his major junior career in Medicine Hat and afterward, spend a few seasons in Belleville until he’s ready for the next step.