The 2021 NHL Draft is finally almost here. It has been a long, crazy road to get to this point. After hours and months of hard work, I have compiled my complete ranking of the draft eligible goaltenders. Looking back on past drafts, I took into consideration how many goalies have been drafted each year but there always seems to be a few “off the radar” picks. That being said, I have divided 25 goaltenders into five tiers with notes on each netminder in tiers one through four . The fifth and final tier is players on the bubble of being drafted in the later rounds or not being drafted at all. I do not have full confidence in the bubble guys being drafted, but would not be surprised to hear a few of their names called. It has been a crazy season with the Covid-19 pandemic and many of these players didn’t even have a chance to play. Naturally, there’s going to be some unpredictability that comes with that for the upcoming draft.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the rankings…
Tier 1 (Round 1)
Jesper Wallstedt – It’s no secret who the top rated goalie in this year’s draft is – Jesper Wallstedt is more than likely a top 10 pick. He spent his entire draft year playing for Luleå in the SHL putting up impressive numbers and looking comfortable against men. His technique and composure give him the ability to make difficult saves look easy.
Sebastian Cossa – Cossa came into the season on the border between being a first and second round pick. His short but stellar season in the WHL makes him a much safer bet to be the second of two goalies taken in the first round. His size is the first thing that stands out, but don’t let that fool you, he can make the athletic, flashy saves. Cossa has a great understanding of his depth in net and knows when and how to use certain save selections.
Tier 2 (Rounds 2-3)
Benjamin Gaudreau – Unfortunately for the talented Gaudreau, he did not have a season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Gaudreau shined at the IIHF U18 Worlds and helped guide Canada to gold. Some view him as a first round talent and he may very well be, but with only a small sample size from this year, it is a safe bet to assume he will go in the second round. He impressed me a lot with his athleticism and his ability to battle when the play breaks down.
Kirill Gerasimyuk – He’s not Askarov level, but the SKA organization has produced another talented netminder in Gerasimyuk who was under siege in most games for the SKA-Varyagi team and still managed to put up really good numbers. He’s got size and when he drops in the butterfly he has good positioning to take away a lot of net.
Tristan Lennox – Another goalie robbed of a season, Lennox was unable to showcase any of his talents this year and being a late ’02, he was not eligible for the U18 tournament. That being said, Lennox has a lot of potential with good size and understanding of how to use it in the net.
Alexei Kolosov – Kolosov is an overager who flew up draft boards this year with his impressive showing in both the Belarussian top league and, more importantly, the KHL. Kolosov also played in four games at the World Championship for Belarus and looked more than comfortable against men. He is an athletic goalie, isn’t afraid to challenge, and takes away as much net as he can at 6-1. Kolosov will cross the pond next season and suit up for the Erie Otters in the OHL.
Tier 3 (Rounds 4-5)
Semyon Vyazovoy – For some reason, there hasn’t been a lot of draft buzz surrounding Vyazovoy. He is a very athletic goalie who is technically sound. He knows when and how to use certain techniques for certain saves. There’s a lot of potential in Vyazovoy’s game that I believe has been overlooked due to him not being selected for Russia’s U18 team this past spring.
Aku Koskenvuo – Koskenvuo is a big goalie with good athleticism. There is a lot to like in him but there is some work to be done with his angles. Koskenvuo is committed to Harvard University for the 2022 season with plans of staying in Finland for the upcoming season. When I watch Koskenvuo play I see a ton of potential for him moving forward. The wait time will be a while, but I believe Koskenvuo has a higher ceiling than most do.
Maxim Motorygin – At the start of the year I was really high on Motorygin who had a really promising D-1 year. Not that he had a bad draft year but I – like most – was expecting more from him on a stacked MHK Dynamo team in the MHL.
Carl Lindbom – Lindbom doesn’t have a huge sample size to draw from as he only played eight games in the J20 Nationell league in Sweden but he did help guide Team Sweden to bronze at the U18 Worlds. Aside from the two games against Canada, he was brilliant throughout the tournament. He has really good footwork and never gives up on the play, he also has the athleticism to make a second and third save look relatively easy.
Joe Vrbetic – Vrbetic is another big kid who takes up a lot of the net. He thrives when using his size to his advantage taking away any space for shooters in tight. He did not have a season this year due to the pandemic, but his D-1 season showed promise on a really bad North Bay team, despite the numbers.
Yegor Guskov – One of my personal favorites from this class, Guskov is an overager, but is worth a pick. At 5-11, Guskov doesn’t really meet the height requirement to be drafted into the NHL but as a small goalie myself, I say, “Juuse Saros just took the Preds to the playoffs.” Guskov isn’t Saros, but the point is he is really good. His athleticism is superb and though he’s super quick side to side, he does a great job of staying in control and letting the play unfold. In 49 games, Guskov put up a ridiculous .946 save percentage which was enough to win Goalie of the Year in the top Russian junior league, the MHL.
Thomas Milic – Milic is not the biggest guy either but he comes out and challenges the shooter, making himself as big as possible. I was really impressed with Milic’s season even though his sample size wasn’t the biggest. He is really good on his edges which helps put him into good position for second and third chances when the play breaks down.
Patrik Hamrla – Playing on four different teams at three different levels is not easy for a draft eligible but Hamrla battled through it and was able to play a handful of games in the Czech pro league. Hamrla has NHL size and uses it well, but doesn’t lack athleticism. Some people are higher on Hamrla but there is still some inconsistency in his game that I would like to see improve. He does a good job of playing the puck, something a lot of scouts rave about in his game.
Platon Zadorozhny – Composed and technically sound, Zadorozhny displays a good balance of positioning and athleticism without relying on one or the other. He always seems in control when he is playing as I rarely watched him fall into desperation mode. He does a good job of simplifying the game and staying on his feet a little longer, letting the shooter make the first move.
Tier 4 (Rounds 6-7)
Tomas Suchanek – Suchanek is an interesting prospect because when he is on he can steal games, but when he is off, it isn’t a pretty site. The problem is you never know which Tomas you’re going to get. That being said, the talent is there for him to become a more consistent goaltender.
Kari Piiroinen – Another overager on this list, Kari Piiroinen went back to his home country of Finland to play in Mestis and helped guide his team to the number one seed in the regular season. He also helped lead Finland to bronze at the World Juniors. Piiroinen took a huge step in developing his game from where he was during the 2019-20 season in the OHL with Windsor. The calm, collected Piiroinen fine tuned his game and it has not gone unnoticed.
Roope Taponen – A similar story to Piiroinen, Roope Taponen is another Finnish overager and was Piiroinen’s partner for Team Finland at the WJC. Taponen also had a phenomenal season playing in Mestis. Not the biggest guy, Taponen boasts really good edgework and athleticism while cutting down the angle on first shots. His rebound control is a strength as well.
Tier 5 (Bubble/Undrafted)