Prospect Ramblings: 2023 Eligible Goalies, a Two-Way Race at the Top

Aaron Itovitch

2023-03-13

Prospect Ramblings: 2023 Eligible Goalies, a Two-Way Race at the Top

I’m no goalie scout. It’s the thing that confuses me the most in this sport, as when looking at some of the most highly hyped netminders of the past, I can’t figure out what went wrong with their development.

It feels like such a toss-up with goalies. One drafted in the seventh round can turn into Devon Levi, and one drafted first overall can be Rick DiPietro. This goalie draft class is weaker than that of 2021s, which features the incredible Jesper Wallstedt (and Sebastian Cossa who was picked BEFORE Wallstedt!), but stronger than that of 2022s, which saw Topias Leinonen and Niklas Kokko go in the second round, and my favourite draft eligible goalie Hugo Havelid go undrafted.

There are two goalies that have separated themselves from the rest in this draft, Trey Augustine, and Michael Hrabal. Augustine is incredibly smart, with phenomenal puck tracking, while Hrabal is an imposing physical presence.

While I give the edge to Augustine in my own rankings, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hrabal goes as early as the first round.

Trey Augustine

Augustine, in 11 games with the USNDTP team in the USHL, has a stellar .938 save percentage with a 2.10 GAA. These numbers have followed him through every level, from the U17s, to the U18s, and finally to the USHL recently. Committed to Michigan State University, Augustine will have a chance to showcase his smarts at the NCAA level. It will equally be at that point where it is determined if his tools are enough to be efficient at the next level.

At 6-1, 179, he isn’t necessarily undersized, but he isn’t in the mould of the archetype of an NHL goalie. He has limitations in his tools, especially in his lateral movement and stickwork. He is incredibly smart, however, and it often feels like he has eyes in the back of his head with the way he can track the puck behind the net.

If Augustine reaches his potential and develops his tools further, he could be an elite goalie in the league. I would definitely be surprised if he’s the first goalie taken, however.

Michael Hrabal

Hrabal is a big boy. Standing at 6-6 and 209 pounds, it’s not easy to get pucks past him just due to his pure size. He is incredibly toolsy, with a surprising range of motion for a player so big, and quick movement. A team looking for a prospect closer to the national could look pretty hard at Hrabal.

His .898 save percentage in the USHL looks bad on paper, but the USHL notably has very low save percentages. He’s equally on a very weak Omaha Lancers team, which makes his performance more impressive. His performance at the U18s was phenomenal, with a .933 in seven games for Czechia.

He will head to UMass to continue his development, but with his physical maturity, he could see NHL time before any other goalie in the class, and due to his size, he is a much more sure bet than any other goalie in the draft to play NHL games.

 

Goalies…

If I was a GM, I would take Augustine, but if I had my job on the line, I might lean toward Hrabal. These aren’t two prospects on the level of Wallstedt/Cossa, but they show two polar opposites of the goalie spectrum in the league. I would love to see them both have big NHL impacts, but with goalies, nothing is ever certain!

 

Thanks for reading! You can catch me on Twitter with bi-weekly personal rankings updates @itovitch , and at the Puck and Roll Podcast!

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