It’s no secret the Flyers lack organizational depth in the crease. Beyond Anthony Stolarz of the London Knights, the cupboard is bare. The 2013 NHL Entry Draft class has depth and numerous potential NHL starters. Philly doesn’t have to pounce early in round one for a netminder, but there will be many intriguing prospects available in the second and third rounds. Here are four Canadian goalies with high ceilings that the Flyers might target come draft day.
Zachary Fucale – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
2012-13: 45-5-3, 2.35 GAA, .909 SV%
Simply put, this guy is a winner. Fucale has backstopped The Herd the last two seasons, winning 77 of 113 games played. In his first year, Fucale set a QMJHL record for most wins by a rookie with 32. The steady netminder has benefitted from a star-studded team in front of him during the 2012-13 campaign, setting the Mooseheads’ all-time record for goalie wins, previously held by Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Fucale has been a workhorse for Halifax this season, playing just under 75 percent of the regular season games and working the pipes for every game of the postseason. Fucale and the Mooseheads have trampled opponents throughout the year, including a 16-1 record in the playoffs. Having already earned a spot in the Memorial Cup this year, Fucale has sparkled in front of scouts and fans that anticipate a win every time out.
The Quebec native has seen fewer shots on average this year compared to last season. This change in workload has allowed Fucale to develop parts of his game that are tough to find in a 17-year-old. His ability to keep his head in the game despite seeing scattered action is an important quality for a future starting goaltender to have. The top-ranked goaltending prospect has displayed a quiet confidence and maturity in between the pipes, making timely saves when his defense breaks down. He is very good down low and exhibits fantastic side-to-side movement. The Montreal-area product might be the only goalie selected in the first round of June’s draft. Although I don’t see him warranting a top-10 selection, Fucale has all the makings of a #1 netminder in the future.
Eric Comrie – Tri-City Americans (WHL)
2012-13: 20-14-3, 2.62 GAA, .915 SV%
Having one of the deepest NHL pedigrees in the ’13 draft class, Eric Comrie has seemingly been born to play in The Show. The Comrie clan has been producing strong hockey talent for years. Eric’s half-brother, Mike, was the most prolific of the family, enjoying a decade-long career in the NHL. Eric’s younger brother, Ty, has followed his older sibling to Tri-City after a productive run with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings organization.
Born in Edmonton, but raised in Newport Beach, Calif., Eric starred for the Jr. Kings before Tri-City jumped six spots and selected him 13th overall in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. The top-rated 1995 goaltender in North America became just the second goalie ever taken by Tri-City in the first round, joining current Montreal Canadien Carey Price. Before leaving L.A. Eric led the LA Selects to a semi-final berth in the 2011 National Championship Midget U16 Tournament. Comrie showed early signs of his talent, leading the tournament with a 1.41 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage.
Once arriving at Tri-City, Comrie continued his stellar goaltending, thanks in part to the team’s owner, Olaf Kolzig. In addition to the aid Comrie already had at his disposal, he spent last summer training with Erik Granqvist, the well-known goalie coach for Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League. Point is, Comrie has received the best coaching and training of any goalie in the 2013 draft class. He tracks the puck very well and has a powerful push-off from side-to-side. His recent hip surgery may worry some NHL franchises, but Comrie has the energy and desire to backstop a NHL team in the future.
Spencer Martin – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
2012-13: 17-21-4, 3.02 GAA, .906 SV%
At the mid-way point of the season, I thought Spencer Martin was the top goalie in all of Canadian juniors. I still have high hopes for him, and wouldn’t be surprised if he became the most prolific goalie in this draft class. However, a sputtering finish to the year has left a sour taste in the mouths of scouts examining Martin. He played for a mediocre Mississauga team, which barely snuck into the Ontario Hockey League playoffs as the eighth seed. Certainly if he had a better team in front of him, like Fucale, Martin would’ve been able to offset some of the criticism.
He has great size (6-foot-2, 192 lbs.) and is a space-eater in net. Martin is a very technically sound netminder with strong discipline moving from pipe to pipe. Some scouts worry that he focuses solely on technique and doesn’t allow his own instincts to take over. The Toronto-area native still needs some seasoning in Mississauga to work on his instincts as well as his ability to read-and-react. He will get that opportunity with the graduation of goaltending mate Tyson Teichmann. Teichmann was acquired from the London Knights prior to the 2012-13 season, which may have unnerved Martin heading into the year. Although Martin struggled in two postseason performances with the Steelheads, he was able to impress scouts with a 1.00 GAA and a .941 SV% in two games with Team Canada at the Under-18 World Juniors. He has tremendous upside and could be a steal in the second or third round for a team who is willing to wait for him to develop.
Tristan Jarry – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
2012-13: 18-7-0, 1.62 GAA, .936 SV%
It seems fitting that Tristan Jarry is the last goalie profiled here. He has been overlooked and has constantly been playing with a chip on his shoulder. This season, Jarry was not the consensus number one goalie on the Edmonton Oil Kings, nor did he see the bulk of the action in the U-18 WJC. But that hasn’t deterred the Vancouver native from putting up dazzling numbers. If Jarry had played enough minutes to qualify this season, he would’ve had the second lowest goals-against-average in WHL history.
Unfortunately for Jarry, he found himself stuck behind incumbent Laurent Brossoit, who was a 2011 draft pick by the Calgary Flames. Yet, Jarry’s meteoric rise forced the two goalies to split time during the regular season, giving Edmonton the best 1-2 punch in the WHL. Playing in just one game during the postseason, Jarry has been stuck to the pine during the Oil Kings’ run to the WHL Final. Although, Jarry did post a shutout in his only postseason appearance. Next season the net will belong to Jarry, as Brossoit has signed an entry-level contract with the Flames.
Jarry could be a mid-to-late round steal, thanks in part to his lack of attention on a stacked Oil Kings’ roster. He has the talent and moxy to develop into a starting goaltender in the NHL. He needs to add bulk to his lanky frame, but his numbers are indisputable while playing in a tough WHL league. Personally, I think Jarry could be one of those players we look back on in a few years and wonder how he slipped that far in the draft. I love the fact that he plays with a chip on his shoulder and he brings it every time he mans the pipes. He is one of my dark horse prospects of the entire 2013 draft class.