For the past two weeks I’ve ranked the Flyers’ top prospects as I see it. In case you missed the first two installments, click here to view my forward rankings and click here to view my defenseman rankings. Today I’m taking a look at the Flyers’ goalie prospects.
Flyers’ fans know that the position of goaltender has been an enigma for the franchise for some time now. Philadelphia has not seen a goaltender of high caliber since the Bernie Parent days in the 1970’s and the Pelle Lindbergh/Ron Hextall days of the mid-1980’s. Names such as Robert Esche, Jeff Hackett, Tommy Soderstrom, Maxime Ouellet and Jeremy Duchesne among many others have all manned the pipes for the Flyers since the glory years. Not exactly an all-star list. Nevertheless, the good news for Flyers’ fans is that one goaltender prospect has been making noise for the OHL’s London Knights and will be called upon this season to be their number one goalie.
The Flyers selected Stolarz with the 45th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. He took a significant step in his developmental process after leaving Nebraska-Omaha mid-season to join the powerhouse London Knights of the OHL last year. With London, he became a key cog in their eventual OHL championship run but struggled in the Memorial Cup in my opinion. In 20 regular season games, he posted .920 SVS% and a GAA of 2.29. He’s an athletic, butterfly goaltender who has ability to dominate games due to his 6’6 frame. His lower movements are good, as well as his quick feet. He also possesses a real solid glove. Stolarz is just raw. He’s going to need years of repetition and game experience to work out his flaws. One thing I noticed watching the OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup last season is that Stolarz must control his rebounds. Too many times he would kick the puck out back into the slot. He may get away with that at the junior level, but he won’t at the professional level. It’s safe to say he’s much better now than he was at this time last year. His move to the OHL from the college game, where he plays against the top junior talent in the world every night, had a factor in his growth. He should compete for the backup goalie position for Team USA at the World Juniors. The Hunter Family operates their franchise like an NHL team and there is much pressure on the Knights this season after losing the Memorial Cup last year. They will be hosting the 2014 Memorial Cup and will receive the automatic bid into the tournament. How Stolarz will handle the number one goalie spot in this crucial season for London remains to be seen?
The St. Louis native had a decent rookie season with the Phantoms last year. He was 12-16-3 in 32 games played with a 2.92 GAA and a .908 SVS%. Not bad considering how pitiful the Phantoms were last year. He’s a big goalie standing at 6’4 and he moves remarkably well for his size. He tends to commit too early, which leaves him out of position to make saves. He possesses a good glove and is an above-average puck-handler. His rebound control has improved from his days at Ohio State. Heeter will battle Yann Danis for playing time in Glens Falls this season. He’ll be the first call-up if an injury occurs to either Ray Emery or Steve Mason.
Last season with Niagara University, Chubak led the country with six shutouts. He was 23-7-5 overall with a 1.91 GAA and a .938 SVS%. Not too shabby. He’s undersized at only 5’11, 170 pounds but he’s relentless in the net and plays bigger than he really is. He’s quick laterally and has a good glove hand. He did sign a minor league deal with the Phantoms in the spring, but with Danis and Heeter in Glens Falls I expect the 24-year-old Chubak to start the year with the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate in Greenville.
The Flyers took a chance drafting Madsen with the 162nd overall pick this past June. Originally from Acton, Calif., Madsen traveled across the country to play for Proctor Academy in New Hampshire. He struggled with Proctor this past season, but standing at 6’4 he has potential. He has a quick feet and moves post-to-post very well. His glove game must get better and needs to improve with shots up top. Madsen will play this upcoming year with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL, before going to Harvard in 2014-15. He still has a ton of work to do and he’s probably five plus years away from being on the Flyers radar, but for sixth-round pick I’m excited.
Other names to watch
The Flyers invited the Penn State goalie to their developmental camp this past July and was not selected in this past year’s draft. Last season as a freshman, Skoff was 9-8-0 overall with a .921 SVS% and his GAA was 2.48. Watching Skoff play all last year at school, I was impressed with his lateral quickness and his above-average glove hand. He must improve on his rebound control though. He’ll most likely backup Perkasie native Eamon McAdam this season, who was the 70th overall pick by the Islanders in this past year’s draft.
Like Skoff, McKay was a developmental camp invitee this past July. He posted a 13-7-2-4 record and 1.39 GAA in 23 games for the Miami of Ohio RedHawks this past season as a freshman. He was named USHL Co-Goalie of the Year following his 2011-12 season with the Green Bay Gamblers. He should be Enrico Blasi’s starting goalie this season. He went unclaimed in the NHL draft, but I believe he’ll be a sought after free agent after his collegiate career is over.