Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Ottawa Senators’ goalie of the future looked to be Filip Gustavsson. Oh, what a season can change. Playing with the Belleville Senators, the Swedish goaltender lost the starting job to Marcus Hogberg, who ran away with the job. Kevin Mandolese put together a stellar campaign in the QMJHL. But, the most surprising and impressive season goes to Joey Daccord. The “Goaltender of the Future” title appears to be up for debate now.
Playing with the Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils, Daccord had a sensational season, making history on numerous occasions in the NCAA. His performance earned a visit from Senators’ general manager Pierre Dorion, resulting in a two-year contract for the goaltender. With history made and Daccord’s stock on the rise, let’s take a look back at how he got to this point in his career.
Daccord’s Journey: 7th-Round Pick to Elite NCAA Goaltender
Daccord was the Senators; 199th selection overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to being drafted, the North Handover, Massachusetts native put together an impressive record with Cushing Academy in the United States High School Preparatory league, spending three seasons there and was even named captain in his final year. His stats over that time speak for themselves:
|Season||Games||Goals Against Average (GAA)||Save Percentage (SV%)|
His save percentage, in particular, stands out. That final season also saw Daccord play in the United States Premier Hockey League with the Boston Jr. Bruins, putting up an impressive 1.51 GAA in 11 games. He spent the 2015-16 season in the United States Hockey League with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, playing in 48 games. In the most games he had played in a season, Daccord recorded a 3.10 GAA and a .904 SV% before heading to Arizona State in 2016-17.
Looking at Daccord’s numbers with the Sun Devils, he did exactly what the Senators hoped he would do, improve. In his three seasons, his numbers improved year after year, despite playing in more games each season.
In 2018-19, Daccord propelled himself into an elite goaltender for the Sun Devils, receiving national attention. What is most impressive for the young goaltender is that he did it on a team that has been playing in Division I hockey for just three seasons, never making the playoffs.
“This year, Joey has put everything together,” head coach Greg Powers says. “He’s mentally tough. He is a leader,
His work this season earned him a nomination for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award and he was a finalist for the Mike Richter Award as the best goaltender in the NCAA. He was also awarded Second Team All-American, the first time a player from ASU received the honour. To top off Daccord’s impressive season, he was rewarded by a visit from Dorion and an NHL contract.
Daccord Signs ASU’s First NHL Contract, Gets Call-Up
Daccord’s contract adds to his historic legacy with ASU, as he is the first player to sign an NHL contract from the school. He didn’t get much time to celebrate though as he was brought up to face the Buffalo Sabres just a few days after signing the deal.
While he didn’t get a win in his first game, he showed glimpses of what he is capable of in the 5-2 loss to the Sabres. He played the full games, facing 40 shots behind the Senators sub-par defence, earning an .875 SV%. While those numbers don’t stand out, considering the team playing in front of him, it could have been a lot worse.
“I thought I played really well, especially under the circumstances, all the travelling. I think in seven days, I was on 10 different flights, cross country a few times,” Daccord said after his debut. ” On top of that, being a college kid and playing my first NHL game — really, I had one practice and one morning skate. So, in two short skates with the team, it was like, you just get dropped in a bucket, and it’s like, Hey, let’s see what you can do, kid.
“All the guys on the team and the staff were supportive of me and really happy for me. They just told me to play my game, so once I got out there, I tried to do that, and I thought I played pretty well.”
Looking back on his first NHL game, Daccord had a hard time taking it all in, “I almost don’t even feel like it happened, it was so surreal. In the blink of an eye, I go from being a college kid to being in the public eye. It all almost happened so fast that I haven’t really been able to process it yet.”
The best part of the call-up is how well Daccord fit in with the team. While the team is still very much in rebuild mode and some may be gone before Daccord gets his next chance, it’s a good sign to see him slide right into the organization so well.
“It was really cool. My first morning, Bobby Ryan drove me to practice. You go from ASU and all of a sudden you’re in the car with an NHL
During the first game, Daccord accidentally fell, giving the team some fuel to heckle the rookie.
“Last time I checked, ice is still slippery in any rink. Everyone falls, it’s just a little unfortunate it happened in my first game. After I fell and I got up, a couple of guys on the bench hopped up over the boards and were banging their stick and laughing. I just gave them a head nod and a laugh. Christian Wolanin came over and said, ‘Hey man, I wasn’t forechecking you, I’m on your team.’ We had a good laugh. It didn’t really affect me much.”
What to Expect From Daccord
Through his goaltending career, Daccord has shown strong technical skills, quick reflexes, great mobility and a stellar personality. If he works his way onto the NHL lineup, he should be a fan favourite. That’s even without talking about his puck handling, which the Senators haven’t really had in a goaltender in their history.
Senators fans should definitely be excited about the youngster, but they will probably need to wait for him to earn a full-time NHL role. With Craig Anderson, Mike Condon and Gustavsson in the system, as well as pending free agents Anders Nilsson and Hogberg, Daccord will most likely find himself with Belleville next season in a backup role. It may still be a couple of seasons before he’s playing in Ottawa.
For now, Daccord will be finishing his degree in Sports Business at ASU online, and getting ready for his first season of professional hockey in 2019-20.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.