The 2015 NHL Entry draft is rapidly approaching, and for the Edmonton Oilers, the future success of their hockey club rests largely in the decisions which will be made on this day.
Connor McDavid will be drafted first overall, there is no doubt.
With their other first round pick, 16th overall, ideally the Oilers need to select a defenseman or a big, skilled forward who can complement Edmonton’s other young stars. [Related: With the 16th Overall Pick, the Oilers Select…]
Despite their wealth of valuable first round draft picks, the Oilers will still retain a fairly significant selection at 33rd overall in the draft. Having without a doubt selected a center at first overall and likely a defenseman at 16th overall, it is time for the Oilers to add an item of incredible value which they have long lacked: a top goaltending prospect.
In terms of the top talent available at the goaltending position, there isn’t too much. While there are a few goaltenders who stand above the rest, the remainder will likely fall to teams in later rounds of the draft.
There are however, three goaltenders who could be selected in the second round, or even the third who have the skills and abilities to become future NHL goaltenders.
Callum Booth – Quebec Remparts
Callum Booth of the Quebec Remparts is a 6 foot 3, 200 pound goaltender born in Montreal. A veteran of two QMJHL seasons, Booth recently completed his second, most successful campaign, recording a 23-13-2 record alongside a .900% SVP and a 3.05 GAA.
A goaltender of good size and strength, Booth plays a butterfly style and is widely known for his quick reflexes and lateral movement in the crease. Due to his height, Booth does a tremendous job of covering the bottom of the net, forcing shooters to make a perfect shot. However, because he does play a large portion of his game on the ice, shooters often have a large amount of room to shoot high in the net.
Unfortunately for Booth and scouts, Callum’s playing time has been severely restricted since the arrival of Zachary Fucale, who arrived in Quebec prior to the conclusion of the regular season. Now in the QMJHL finals, Booth has only played in three playoff games, although he has recorded one shutout.
In terms of interest, the Oilers would do well to give Booth serious consideration, however selecting Booth 33rd overall would certainly be a stretch. Realistically, Booth will be picked in the third, if not fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Ilya Samsonov – Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk
Ilya Samsonov of Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk is a 6 foot 3, 200 pound Russian goaltender. Despite playing the majority of last season in the MHL, Samsonov did manage to play in one KHL game with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Similar to Booth, Samsonov uses his size to his advantage, challenging shooters and cutting off any possible angles towards the net. A goaltender of terrific lateral mobility, Samsonov covers the net well, especially the lower half with his powerful legs.
Despite these qualities, Samsonov is known for his poor rebound control and his inability to play the puck in and around his own goal.
Samsonov did however manage to play a ton of international hockey for Russia this season. In particular, at the World Junior A Challenge and at the World Under-18 Championship.
Samsonov could certainly be an intriguing goaltender, however NHL teams could be hesitant to draft Ilya, as he remains signed with Magnitogorsk through the 2016-17 season.
Mackenzie Blackwood – Barrie Colts
Mackenzie Blackwood is a 6 foot 4, 215 pound goaltender playing with the OHL’s Barrie Colts. In his second season with the Colts, Blackwood posted a 33-14-2 record with a .906% SVP and a 3.09 GAA in 51 games.
A tall and athletic, yet strong and physical goaltender, Blackwood is the top goaltending prospect available in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. With strong, quick legs and sensational mobility, Blackwood is quick to challenge shooters, while his rebound control is effective in cutting down secondary scoring chances.
Positionally sound, Blackwood’s big body and strong frame allow him to move effortlessly in his crease, retaining the ability to move post to post with ease.
The one drawback in Blackwood’s game, similar to many young goaltenders, is his ability to play the puck.
If the Edmonton Oilers decide they need to acquire a top goaltending prospect, then Mackenzie Blackwood is the right goaltender to select. Projected to be an early second round pick, if not a late first round pick, Blackwood is the top goaltending gem in an otherwise weak 2015 goalie class.
Sure, he’s no Marc-Andre Fleury, John Gibson or Andrei Vasilevskiy, but Mackenzie Blackwood has a tremendous amount of not only talent, but also potential. The Oilers have long been searching for a franchise goaltender, and if they chose to draft Mackenzie Blackwood, they may just have finally found their man.