Throughout the summer, we examined the top young players in hockey at each position. Thus far, we looked at the top 100 defensemen, centers, and wingers. In our final segment of the top prospects in the NHL positionally, we look at goalies. Goalies are considered to be the most difficult player to evaluate within the sport of hockey. Some seemingly slam dunk prospects never pan out. Others take a long time to develop (see Jack Campbell, for example). Some never get drafted and yet emerge as stellar NHL prospects (like Kyle Keyser on this list). Regardless of draft position, the NHL has seen a bit of a regression in goaltending as of late. There are some stellar prospects on the radar. Here is my top 50 for this coming season.
1. Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) 6’4″ 196 USHL
18 year-old Spencer Knight leads our list after a stellar 2018-2019 season. A first round pick of the Florida Panthers, Knight has all the physical tools to be a successful NHL goalie. Knight is also known for his Carey Price-like calm demeanor, a trait that will serve him well in the NHL. Some scouts believe Knight will only need a year or so in the NCAA before making the jump to the pros. Regardless if it takes a year or three, Knight has the best chance of goalies on this list to be a solid number one goalie.
2. U-P Lukkonen (Buffalo Sabres) 6’4″ 196 OHL
Lukkonen made the jump from Europe to North America last season and tore up the OHL, posting a .920 save percentage. Similar to Knight, Lukkonen has strong physical tools and skill set. He is great positionally and uses his frame well. Lukkonen will play in the AHL next season, and it will be a good test to see where he is at in his development. He is likely a few seasons away from NHL duty.
3. Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks) 6’4″ 192 AHL
Unless Demko has a terrible offseason, he should be the first goalie on this list to find himself in an NHL jersey next season. Demko had a solid NCAA career and doesn’t have anything left to show at the AHL level. He played 9 games in the NHL last season and didn’t look out of place. Similar to other goalies on this list in the early stages, Demko has a big frame and high athleticism considering his size. The San Diego native is confident and ready for an NHL challenge this season.
4. Igor Shestyorkin (New York Rangers) 6’1″ 187 KHL
Shestyorkin is the first Russian on this list, but he is one of many. The heir apparent to Henrik Lundqvist in New York, Shestyorkin is smaller than some of his counterparts but makes up for it with his positioning and athleticism. He competes well and is an exciting goalie to watch. Shestyorkin has destroyed the KHL, posting save percentages as high as .953. He signed an NHL contract and will start the year in the AHL. He is likely a year or two away from NHL duty.
5. Ilya Sorokin (New York Islanders) 6’2″ 190 KHL
Sorokin has a similar skillset to his fellow Russian counterpart Shestyorkin, though there are significant stylistic differences between the two. Sorokin plays a less aggressive style and prefers to play deeper in his net. He had a .940 save percentage last season, an extremely high number for any league. Like other Russian players, Sorokin has taken awhile to come to North America. He will play in the KHL for at least one more year before making the jump.
6. Cayden Primeau (Montreal Canadiens) 6’3″ 181 HE
The third American on this list, Primeau shows that goalie prospects can be all over the map when it comes to where they were drafted and what kinds of players they may become. Primeau was picked 199th overall in 2017, and he is number six on this list – and high on most other lists as well. The son of former NHLer Wayne, Cayden boasts a big frame and a calm demeanor. Primeau rarely panics and uses his strong positioning to block pucks. He makes goaltending look easy at times thanks to these combinations. Primeau will start the year in the AHL and is a few seasons away.
7. Elvis Merzlikins (Columbus Blue Jackets) 6’3″ 181 SUI
The player with arguably the most fun name on this list, Merzlikins will likely be the starter for the Columbus Blue Jackets next season. The Latvian native has dominated the Swiss league and the World Championships over the years and is ready for a new challenge. While goalies often spend time in the AHL and rarely make a direct NHL jump, Elvis is likely to be an exception. Also boasting a big frame, Merzlikins has had some legendary saves and performances at the World Championship. He is extremely athletic and uses his quickness when he has positional struggles. Keep an eye on him as the NHL season begins.
8. Ilya Samsonov (Washington Capitals) 6’3″ 200 AHL
Samsonov is actually the highest drafted Russian on this list, a first rounder of Washington back in 2015. However, he had a rough start to his North American career last season. This isn’t uncommon for goalies coming over, plus he had a strong finish. Overall, Samsonov is a goalie with great poise, athleticism, and positioning. It was this combination that made him a first round pick. Look for him to improve from last season in the AHL. He is still a year or two away.
9. Daniil Tarasov (Columbus Blue Jackets) 6’4″ 180 KHL
Another Russian on this list, Tarasov is the most underrated and least known of his peer group in North America. He has struggled to stick in Russia’s top league at times, which makes scouting him even more difficult. In fact, there is very little online footage of him available to the general public. However, he has all the tools to be a highly successful NHL goalie. At 6’4″, Tarasov also boasts an NHL frame. Tarasov is highly athletic, and this will likely be what leads him to NHL success. He is at least three years away.
10. Ville Vehvilainen (Columbus Blue Jackets) 6’1″ 183 FIN
The third Blue Jacket on this list, Vehvilainen won a championship in Finland last season. Smaller in stature than some, Vehvilainen likes to play out at the edge of his crease and challenge shooters. He has quick feet and moves across the crease well. Vehvilainen will need some developmental work, especially adjusting to a higher North American speed.
11. Jake Oettinger (Dallas Stars) 6’5″ 200 HE
A Dallas first rounder from a few years ago, Oettinger made the jump to the AHL at the end of last season and had some impressive performances after having a successful college career. Oettinger is the prime example of a goalie with a high skillset and NHL frame, but at times, struggles with consistency. The Stars hope that his game matures with age. He is a few seasons away.
12. Kyle Keyser (Boston Bruins) 6’2″ 178 OHL
Keyser shot up this list this past season and was one of the top goalies in the OHL. Keyser is excellent at anticipating the play. He also has excellent quickness and overall speed in the crease. Keyser was undrafted, not uncommon for goalies. He looks like the real deal and could be a Bruins’ starter in a few years.
13. Michael DiPietro (Vancouver Canucks) 6’0″ 200 OHL
DiPietro has been on the NHL radar for a while now. A fiercely competitive goalie, DiPietro has defied the odds as a “small” goalie. He won a Memorial Cup as a 17 year-old, which is extremely rare and a testament to his demeanor and confidence. However, DiPietro also has the dubious position of letting in a goal on his first shot in the NHL, and subsequently giving up 5 more in his first NHL game (in his defense, Vancouver did not set him up to succeed, and it’s rare for a 19 year-old to play in the NHL at all). DiPietro looked bored a bit at times last season in the OHL and is ready for a new challenge. He is quick and strong positionally overall. DiPietro will need a minimum of a few seasons of development before making the jump to the NHL.
14. Pavel Kochetkov (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’3″ 180 RUS2
Kochetkov went undrafted last year, but Carolina snatched him up in the second round this season after a stellar World Junior Championship and strong season in Russia. Russia is becoming a goaltending factory, and Kochetkov is a part of this new breed. His positioning is strong, yet he’s also athletic and makes some incredible saves. Kochetkov has a chance to be an NHL starter, but don’t expect him to be in North America anytime soon.
15. Mads Soogard (Ottawa Senators) 6’8″ 200 WHL
The 6’8″ Dane is a Pekka Rinne type goaltender. Obviously Soogard’s size is his biggest attribute. However, he is also highly athletic considering his size. He rarely looks awkward in the crease. Soogard has a steep development curve, but his toolkit is impressive. He is likely five to six years away from NHL duty.
16. Joseph Woll (Toronto Maple Leafs) 6’3″ 200 HE
Woll plays a hybrid style of goaltending, which so far has worked to his advantage. Woll balances well being aggressive and playing deep in his crease. After a long NCAA career, he signed a contract and finished the year in the AHL. Woll will compete for an AHL roster spot and may spend some time in the ECHL. It will be a few seasons before he makes the NHL.
17. Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) 6’3″ 170 WHL
18. K. Kahkonen (Minnesota Wild) 6’2″ 194 AHL
19. Joel Hofer (St. Louis Blues) 6’3″ 160 WHL
20. Adin Hill (Arizona Coyotes) 6’6″ 202 AHL
21. Tyler Parsons (Calgary Flames) 6’1″ 185 AHL
22. Connor Ingram (Nashville Predators) 6’2″ 196 AHL
23. Oscar Lindbom (New York Rangers) 6’1″ 173 SWEHL
24. Samuel Ersson (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’2″ 176 SWE-1
25. Jeremy Swayman (Boston Bruins) 6’2″ 187 HE
26. Jakub Skarek (New York Islanders) 6’3″ 196 FIN
27. Lukas Dostal (Anaheim Ducks) 6’2″ 166 CZE
28. Felix Sandstrom (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’2″ 191 SWEHL
29. Michael Berdin (Winnipeg Jets) 6’2″ 163 ECHL
30. Oliver Rodrigue (Edmonton Oilrs) 6’1″ 160 QMJHL
31. Eric Comrie (Winnipeg Jets) 6’1″ 175 AHL
32. Michael Villalta (Los Angeles Kings) 6’3″ 165 OHL
33. Filip Gustavsson (Ottawa Senators) 6’2″ 194 AHL
34. Tristan Jarry (Pittsburgh Penguins) 6’2″ 194 AHL
35. Cal Petersen (Los Angeles Kings) 6’1″ 185 AHL
36. Jon Gillies (Calgary Flames) 6’6″ 223 AHL
37. Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) 6’5″ 196 SWEHL
38. Hunter Jones (Minnesota Wild) 6’5″ 202 OHL
39. Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’0″ 190 AHL
40. Colton Point (Dallas Stars) 6’4″ 235 AHL
41. Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) 6’4″ 206 ECHL
42. David Wolf (Calgary Flames) 6’0″ 160 WHL
43. Alex Zagidulin (Calgary Flames) 6’2″ 180 KHL
44. Magnus Hogberg (Ottawa Senators) 6’5″ 209 AHL
45. Trent Miner 6’0″ 167 WHL (Colorado Avalanche)
46. Ivan Prosvetov (Arizona Coyotes) 6’5″ 176 OHL
47. Fil Larsson (Detroit Red Wings) 6’2″ 180 NCHC
48. Adam Werner (Colorado Avalanche) 6’5″ 200 SWEHL
49. Shane Starrett (Edmonton Oilers) 6’5″ 181 AHL
50. Sam Montembault (Florida Panthers) 6’3″ 208 AHL