He arguably put on the best performance of any player at the World Juniors.
He received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre, even after his team lost 5-1 to a superior Canadian team.
Denis Godla stole the show at the World Juniors in December while guarding the crease for the Slovaks. Slovakia wasn’t expected to medal during the tournament, but Godla led his team to a bronze medal, the first for his country since 1999.
He was an absolute rock for Slovakia throughout the tournament. The team was outshot in six of their seven games, aside from their 5-2 win over Germany. He led the tournament with 224 saves in seven games, almost 50 more than the next closest goaltender.
Despite his stellar play against the best players in his age group, will he be drafted?
Denis Godla put on a performance for the ages at the World Junior Hockey Championships this past year in Montreal and Toronto. His composure was key for Slovakia throughout the tournament, and he seemed to get better as the games went on. By the end of it, he put on one of the best performances by a goalie in WJC history.
It didn’t start well for Godla, as he was pulled in the opening game of the tournament during an 8-0 loss to Canada. That game seemed like an aberration, as Godla put on a show during the next game with a 37-save effort in a 2-1 win against Finland, despite that the Slovaks were outshot 38-12.
The Slovaks’ memorable bronze medal victory likely never would have happened if they weren’t able to ride the hot goaltending of Godla.
God-like Performance Enough for Draft?
If anything, Godla’s showing at the WJC put him on the NHL radar. After being passed over in the previous draft, Godla is projected to go somewhere in the later rounds this year.
Right after the WJC, he was the fourth-overall ranked European Goalie according to NHL Central Scouting. Since then, he has slipped down to seventh overall. In the THW combined rankings, compiled by my colleague Christopher Ralph, he is projected to go in the sixth round.
So why the slip in his rankings? Part of the reason could have been his forgettable appearance in the KHL this season. In four appearances, Godla racked up three losses along with a 5.17 GAA and a .839 save percentage.
It might be harsh to judge him on four performances, but it seems like that could be the main reason for his drop in the rankings.
Another reason may be his style, which has some scouts comparing him to Tim Thomas. At a glance it might seem like comparing him to a Stanley Cup winning goaltender is high praise, but his unorthodox style may have some scouts looking away.
What can’t be ignored is Godla’s compete level. Even at the WJC, he didn’t get rattled during a tournament of that calibre. In games when his team was down and out, he continued to compete and make huge saves.
His compete-level and drive to win is not something that all goalies possess, and his outstanding play at the World Juniors shouldn’t be forgotten. Since he is projected to go later in the draft, if at all, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for a team to take a flyer on him.
What he accomplished at the WJC was something that not many goalies could do at that age, and he did it against the best competition in his age group. That alone should be enough for an NHL team to pick him up on draft day. What team wouldn’t want a future Tim Thomas on their roster?
KPU Journalism Graduate. Trevor has been writing for The Hockey Writers since October 2014. He has contributed articles related to the Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and other issues/stories regarding the game of hockey. Trevor currently lives in White Rock, B.C.