To me they are the big wildcard every year because you can never really be sure that a team is going to take a goalie. I've talked to some NHL scouts who are of the opinion that in the cap era you don't need to draft a goalie at all because there will always be ones available. I've also talked to scouts who say that the only way you'll get an elite goalie is to draft and develop one yourself.
In a conversation that the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson and I had with New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello right before Christmas he told us "I think today you have a better chance of finding someone than you did yesterday because of the rules regarding the CBA and free agency with the number of games goalies have to play compared to forwards. We would always prefer to, if we can, draft our own and develop our own and have him come along that way."
With that in mind I don't know that we can positively say that team X will take a goalie or that team Y positively will not draft one or when or where in the draft a goalie selection makes more or less sense.
Here are The Pipeline Show's top 5 goalies for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft... and yes, I know I'm actually listing 6... That's just how we do things around here. The links are to the bio pages for each keeper and the extra little tidbits or comments made here are our thoughts and remarks.
#1 Chet Pickard - Tri City Americans
He's a Manitoba kid so obviously Millard has him already slated as a future Hall of Famer. Pickard was fantastic all year for the Americans but even better than that in the playoffs where he had a 1.78 GAA, .937 SV % and 11-3-2 record. The Canadian prominently features Captain America on his mask, a design submitted by a kid in a local contest. I like his size at 6'2 and 210 lbs because he's tall but not so tall where he becomes awkward. Oh and the correct pronunciation of the last name is PICK-erd not Pi-CARD.
#2 Thomas McCollum - Guelph Storm
Dean has McCollum second on his list but he actually comes 3rd on my own. I thought McCollum was the best of the four goalies at the Top prospects game but quite honestly, none of them really played very well. His numbers were actually a bit worse in each category than in 2006-07 but still pretty good. Also has good size at 6'2 and 205 lbs so really there might not be much to seperate he and Pickard in that sense.
#3 Jacob Markstrom - Brynas & Sweden U18
I have the Swede in the second spot on my list but Deano has him like this, at number 3. Scouts I talked to had nothing but outstanding things to say about his performance at the U18 tournament in April. I personally won't be stunned if Markstrom turns out to be the first goalie chosen although both Millard and I have only 1 goalie going in round 1 in our mock (and it isn't this guy). He's 6'3 and 180 lbs so room to fill out still but has great height already. Could be the guy for Sweden at the next World Junior Championship in Ottawa now that Enstrom is too old (if I got that right).
#4 Jake Allen - St. John's & Canada U18
He kind of came out of nowhere at the U18 tournament but his 8-0 shutout of the Russians in the gold medal game and his play even before that has him high on many mock drafts. Allen is a New Brunswick native and is another 6'2 keeper available this year. We had Jake on as a guest back on May 6th and you can hear that interview here. After playing back up all year we expect Allen to have a breakout year with the Montreal Juniors next season.
#5 Dustin Tokarski - Spokane Chiefs
We mentioned how strong Pickard's stats were in the playoffs but even they pale in comparison to what Tokarski put together. A 1.38 GAA and .944 save percentage during the WHL playoffs and then his stellar performance at the Memorial Cup that earned him the award as tournament MVP. So what's the downside? He's smaller at 5'11 and 185 lbs and he played on a defensively strong team so some scouts believe he and his stats were more of a product of that than he was. 'Tick' was also a guest on TPS on May 27th.
Honorable Mention: Harri Sateri - Tappara & Finland U18
How can you have a draft without a notable netminder from Finland? You can't because the Scandinavian country has been a goalie factory for the last decade and a half and still churns more out every year. This year the best Finn available is Sateri who has solid size at 6'1 and 190 lbs. He was much higher on most lists earlier in the year but if he's lost ground in the rankings it's more to do with the rise of others than his own performance dropping off much. The catchy rhyming name is a marketing campaign waiting to happen... how long before he's called Harri "Carrey" Sateri?
Wedensday we will unveil our Top 5 Overage Players who should get serious consideration this year after going undrafted through a previous draft.