Welcome to the Thursday Prospect Ramblings. I have decided to run a little four-part series looking at NHL teams’ goalie prospects, if there is room for them in the near future, and how long they could take to be on the roster. Goalies can take a long time to get to the NHL and sometimes us Fantasy GMs forget that as they are the shiny new toy that we falsely proclaim “will be the starter if they give him a shot next season.” I always remind myself to look at goalie prospects differently. There are only so many NHL spots, and one year a goalie can be unstoppable and the next year he is on waivers because he is so bad. Goalies need to be looked in a way where you look at the team, see who is starting what their contract(s) are like, and how likely the prospect will get to actually start.
Goalies are the most confusing and the toughest position to judge, and the professionals do not even have the best advanced metrics for them:
I will do my best to layout who is next and the chances they possess, but do not quote me on it because it could all change in a year.
Let me get started with the West division:
We all know Lukas Dostal is great and doing extremely well in the AHL right now, but does he have a chance to take over the #1 role from the 27-year-old John Gibson who is signed until 2026-27 with a modified NTC that kicks in at the start of the 2021 season? I would bet against that. Also, I know there is lots of talk about how Gibson turns in to a not very good goalie as the season progresses but is because of him or the team in front of him?
Luckily for Dostal, Gibson is prone to missing lengths of time due to injury so he could get a run of starts. Dostal will also become a prime trade candidate for the Ducks in the future, but how long will that take. My bet would be that Dostal become the 1B in Anaheim at best due to Gibson’s contract, but he will become the starter somewhere once he is traded.
Since I want to cover all of my bases, if in four years Dostal is the better goalie, he will only be 24 at that time and Gibson will be 31 with two to three years left on his deal and only a 10 team no trade list. Anything is possible just do not get your hopes up on Dostal willing the #1 role any time soon.
There is an outside shot for Olle Eriksson Ek too, but with the two he is up against he can only hope to be a backup in Anaheim.
Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta are two great goalies, but they also seem to spend more time on IR then they do on the ice. Adin Hill is a fine goalie but not one I would say is a legit NHL starter, he can be a good 1B NHL goalie who can cover for short injury timeframes though. Hill will get plenty of action with Raanta’s deal up at the end of this season and Kuemper signed for an additional year longer.
The prize for the Coyotes long term is Ivan Prosvetov. He is still slightly inconsistent in the NHL but when he is on he is very good. He has a great chance to be given a split role with Hill for a couple seasons after the 2021-2022 season, unless the Coyotes extend Kuemper. If they do extend Kuemper you can push Prosvetov starting for a couple extra seasons, but the smart money is on Prosvetov to be the starter for the Coyotes.
Now this is sure an interesting set up. Grubauer has done enough to be extended by the Avalanche this off season and is only 29. Francouz looked good last regular season, tried to play through an injury in the playoffs, and then has been on LTIR since, but he is also signed until 2021-2022. Hunter Miska looked to have rediscovered his game in 2019-2020 in the AHL but has not looked great in his four NHL starts this season. Adam Werner was alright in the AHL, and played well in his two call up NHL games, last season , but now has just one AHL start as the Colorado Eagles have had five goalies start for them with only Miska and Parker Gahagen looking good in one game. Very confusing situation all around. The star in the system is obviously Justus Annunen but at 20, and with Colorado aiming for the Stanley Cup, would they give him the crease any time soon?
Grubauer will likely be the starter for a few seasons with the back up role being fought over by both Werner and Miska for a couple seasons after 2022. Annunen should be able to come in as the back up in about three to four seasons and take over the crease after a year as a backup. Just do not expect him as the starter in the next year or two.
Thankfully the Kings are an easy team to envision for the short-term future. Quick’s contract runs until the end of 2022-2023 but he is already splitting with Cal Petersen, who will take over starting at least as a 1A this season. Who will look to the backup, or heir netminder, in two to three years in the future once Quick is off the books? It is a three-horse race with Matt Villalta in the lead as he is older and probably the future backup, but his numbers look like he is only destined to be an AHL split starter. The future of the net, as of now, will be a battle of 2018 sixth round pick Jacob Ingram and 2019 third round selection Lukas Parik. It is much too early to tell, and Petersen at 26 so he can role as the starter for at least five to seven years.
Cam Talbot was signed as a starter and I believe the plan was to have him start for this season, then split as a 1A, and then be the backup/1B as required. Kaapo Kahkonen has apparently just decided have year three is this year and that he is good enough to start now. It should be him and Talbot until Talbot’s contract runs out in 2023, but Kahkonen will be 26 then and like the starter for the future.
Hunter Jones is an intriguing option but he will not be a threat to Kahkonen until 2023-2024 at least. Filip Lindberg is also an interesting option for the Wild down the road who should also make noise around the 2023-2024 season. Dereck Barbibeau has been improving and is doing great in the AHL right now. If he keeps playing well he has a chance to give the Wild a great young tandem in 2023.
Martin Jones’s contract runs until the end of the 2023-2024 season, and he will either but placed in the AHL or bought out pretty soon. Especially after San Jose beat writers have now turned on him after defending his play and coming up with excuses for the past two seasons. Dubnyk will likely not be extended. Josef Korenar is next in line, and is a good developing goalie despite his 2019-2020 numbers, but has not had a lot of playing time this 2020-2021 crazy season. I fully expect the Sharks to add in the offseason but if they stay in house Korenar does have a chance at a 50/50 role, and if they add he will likely spend another year in the AHL.
The Sharks did bring over Alexei Melnichuk from the KHL and at 22 he does have a chance to develop in to a 1A/1B starter, but I would put my money on both him becoming a backup and Korenar becoming a 1A starter in a few seasons. The Sharks need help in new now, so like I said expect them to add unless they want to gamble on a not-quite-ready Korenar.
There is not much to add on the Blues. They plan to extended Jordan Binnington when they can (his contract is up at the end of this season) and Ville Husso is signed to a cheap deal until the 2022 offseason. Husso may move on from St, Louis when his deal expires and the Blues do not have anyone in the pipeline who will really be ready by then, so they will probably add.
Joel Hofer will challenge Binnington by the 2023-2024 season for the crease, so he is one to keep an eye one but the contract given to Binnington will likely keep him as the starter for at least five to seven seasons. Do not expect Hofer to take over, even if he is better.
The Golden Knights plan to go with MA Fleury and Robin Lehner and their contracts until 2021-2022 and 2024-2025 respectfully. There really is no one to take over in the pipeline. This team is in win now mode. Watch whoever they sign as a NCAA free agent (Strauss Mann anyone?), out of Europe, or whoever they draft as they will look to get someone to take over eventually.
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