The goaltending pool for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is said to be one of the weakest in recent memory. There is only one — maybe (just maybe) two — netminders who is considered first-round quality.
Anyone with substantial knowledge of the game knows that goalies tend to be the toughest to project. Their hot and cold nature renders scouting backstoppers a difficult task. Another factor to keep in mind is the effect supply and demand has on drafting decisions. If a particular franchise is desperate for a young, high potential netminder to filter through their system, don’t be surprised if any of these guys go long before they’re projected to.
Without further adieu, let’s dive into a handful of draft-eligible goalies that could very well make their mark on the NHL sooner than we think.
John Gibson (G) – US National Development Team
Manning the crease for the US National Development Team over the past two seasons worked wonders for Gibson. He stopped pucks off the sticks of some of the top American-born prospects in practice every day and got comfortable suiting up for a well-respected program. In his draft year, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania product posted a very cool .926 save percentage in 39 appearances. His goals against average wasn’t too shabby either, finishing up with 2.38. As a freshman in high school, Gibson was cut from the varsity hockey squad. Now an athletic 6’3”, 205 pounder, Gibson won’t be getting disregarded at the amateur level ever again.
Expect J. Gibson to go 22-27
Christopher Gibson (G) – Chicoutimi Sagueneens
The second Gibson prospect of the draft played 37 games for the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the 2010-11 season. The Finn came to North America to chase his dream and hasn’t looked back. Although his club squad had a record of .500, Gibson’s abilities were on display throughout the year as he gathered up four shutouts, a league-best .920 save percentage and a first-team all-star team nod. At 6’1”, 198 pounds, the left-catching ‘tender is of slightly below-average size for a goalie. He plays a hybrid style and his quickness is said to be his strongest asset. After a few conditioning years, Gibson will likely crack an NHL lineup.
Expect C. Gibson to go 34-39
Samu Perhonen (G) – SM-Liiga
Jamsankoski, Finland is Perhonen’s hometown and his trapper is attached to his left hand. In 2010-11, he played in Finland’s junior loop where put up some solid numbers with two shutouts, 2.71 goals against average and .922 save percentage. Size-wise, the top-ranked netminder playing in Europe is slender with a 6’3”, 170-pound frame. Fortunately, what he lacks in mass has been made up by his attention to the essentials of a butterfly goalie and mental toughness. Plus, it’s got to help his chances that Perhonen does mean “butterfly” in Finnish.
Expect Perhonen to go 51-56
Jordan Binnington (G) – Owen Sound Attack
Binnington, also known as “binnnasty” on Twitter, is a prospect that was in the right place at the right time with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack in 2010-11. Unfortunately for the club’s original starter Scott Stajcer, the Toronto, Ontario 17-year-old took over the reigns once injury woes hit the crease area. His regular season numbers weren’t fantastic by any means — 3.05 goals against average, .899 save percentage in 46 appearances — but he did lead the Attack to a league championship. He was also named the Memorial Cup’s Outstanding Goaltender, which will surely help his cause. Teams will be teetering on Binnington at the draft table, as his late-season brilliance will be stacked up against his overall offering. Another possible deterrent may be his undersized frame (6’2″, 160 pounds).
Expect Binnington to go 82-86