This week, your "Game Time" Prospect Department proudly presents an in-depth look at several possible draft options that may be open to the Blues in goal.
As noted below, in the "Draft Notes" section, some of these players may not remain available beyond the third round, and that perceived need to draft one of these players that high, may not be in the Blues' best interests as an organization at present.
After reading the profiles and scouting reports for each of the goalies listed here, don't forget to vote in the poll below for which of these players you'd like to see added to the Blues' system at the draft. Next week, we will present the results of this poll, as well as the results of the polls for the "Silver Seven" and "Second Seven".
|BLUES' SELECTIONS IN 2015 DRAFT|
|4TH||094||FROM EDM (Perron Trade)|
|5TH||127||FROM NEJ (D'Agostini Trade)|
|POSITION||Goaltender||CSS Preliminary||NA N/R|
|CATCHES||Left||CSE Midterm||NAG 29|
|HEIGHT||6' 02.25"||CSS Final||NAG 10|
|WEIGHT||197 lbs||NCAA Commitment||Arizona State '16|
|BORN||Aug. 19, 1996||WHERE||North Andover, MA|
|2014-15||Cushing Academy (HS-MA)||29||1680||56||835||2.00||26-4-4||.933||3|
|Boston Jr. Bruins (USMAAAE)||11||317||6||N/A||1.14||N/A||N/A||0|
NOTE: Statistics in RED above are extrapolated from limited information available at the Cushing Academy website, Boy's Varsity Hockey page.
A modern battlefly style goalie [butterfly/hybrid mix] who displays elite-level positioning and athleticism. Has very good size for a goaltender; paired with his positioning, he can be very difficult to beat. An impressive skater who handles and plays the puck proficiently; in general, uses the goal stick actively. Quick to realize when to take a whistle and cover up, and when it'd be a better idea to play the puck up-ice. When reacting to a save, his form is impeccable: smooth transition to the butterfly position, square to the shooter, shoulders up, glove hand up and out, tight blocker angle, and goal stick covering any inlets to the five-hole. All-in-all an athletic goaltender that knows how to shut the door and elevate his level of play; as a result, Daccord gives his team a chance to win every night. (Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects website 2014)
|POSITION||Goaltender||CSS Preliminary||NA "B"|
|CATCHES||Left||CSE Midterm||NAG 05|
|HEIGHT||6' 01.00"||CSS Final||NAG 12|
|WEIGHT||192 lbs||NCAA Commitment||Wisconsin '15|
|BORN||Feb. 27, 1997||WHERE||Effingham, IL|
|2014-15||USNTDP U18 (USHL)||15||823||34||343||2.48||11-1-2||.901||1|
|Tournaments and Exhibitions||19||1071||53||421||2.97||13-5-0||.874||2|
|United States (U18 WJC)||2||119||6||33||3.01||1-1-0||.818||0|
"He's focused and very driven to be the best he can be," USNTDP U-18 coach Don Granato said. "He challenges himself every day at practice. After practice he grabs goalie gloves and a stick and goes upstairs to shoot pucks."
A native of Effingham, Ill., Opilka began opening some eyes in midget minors with the St. Louis Blues program in 2012-13, going 18-2-1 with a 1.55 GAA and .927 save percentage.
Opilka has good size and moves well in his crease, two areas that excite NHL scouts.
"I play more of a hybrid and play more to my positioning, quick feet and try to get into the space before the shot comes," Opilka said. "I try and stay away from reactionary saves and try to be in the right position at all times."
Opilka was the highest-rated goalie invited to participate in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo on Sept. 25. In his 29:48 of ice time he allowed one goal on 23 shots to help Team Mike Grier to a 6-3 victory against Team Eddie Olczyk.
"He's aggressive and is a quick-style goalie, challenging shooters very well," (Central Scouting's goaltending expert Al) Jensen said. "He reads the plays well and is quick to react, has a good glove hand and is an overall strong goalie. He's got great lateral movement and competes very hard."
"When he struggles it's because he's too intense," Granato said. "He'll put pressure on himself and is over-focused in that regard. But he's matured a lot. He studies the position and knows it well. He's learned it, taught himself and learned a lot from our goalie coach (Kevin Reiter)."
. (Mike Morreale, "Shift to goalie paying off for USNTDP's Opilka," 12-04-14, http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=742201)
|POSITION||Goaltender||CSS Preliminary||NA "B"|
|CATCHES||Left||CSE Midterm||NAG 04|
|HEIGHT||6' 02.50"||CSS Final||NAG 05|
|WEIGHT||180 lbs||NCAA Commitment||North Dakota '15|
|BORN||May 24, 1997||WHERE||Bratislava, Slovakia|
An athletic Slovakian import who has soundly placed himself in the conversation as possibly being the first goaltender drafted. He was clearly better than any other prospect at the NAHL showcase event. Shows a good down low game with quick legs. Has good balance while in his stance, and terrific quickness and anticipation. Good at absorbing shots and limiting rebounds. Covers the top of the net and is flexible enough to recover and reposition for any second shot he does give up. ( Bill Placzek, http://www.draftsite.com/nhl/player/matej-tomek/21702/)
|POSITION||Goaltender||CSS Preliminary||EU "C"|
|CATCHES||Left||CSE Midterm||EUG 07|
|HEIGHT||6' 00.50"||CSS Final||EUG 06|
|WEIGHT||180 lbs||NCAA Commitment||N/A|
|BORN||Feb. 13, 1997||WHERE||Jyväskylä, Finland|
|JYP U20 (Nuorten SM-Liiga)||17||1029||53||644||3.09||N/A||.918||N/A|
|Finland (U18 WJC)||7||437||12||233||1.65||5-2-0||.948||1|
A decent sized puck stopper…possesses a calm presence in net and really solid positioning… does not make any unnecessary movements and makes everything look so easy…can bait shooters with his glove before quickly snatching puck headed for the top shelf…keeps rebounds under control…moves laterally quick and controlled…balance and positioning is also strong…has shown strong consistency and keeps his team in each game…could improve his reading of the play in front of him but has some high-end upside. ( Future Considerations website, December 2014, http://futureconsiderations.ca/playerprofiler/Veini-Vehvilainen/)
With only six picks available to them in the 2015 Draft, the Blues may not take a goalie at all. Your GTPD feels that they should do so, however, provided that their selection is a goalie who is on a long-term development track.
With Jordan Binnington, Ville Husso and Niklas Lundström in the system already, the Blues' organization has several quality options available in goal for the next three or four seasons, and can afford to take the long view in developing the next wave of goalies. Three of the five goalies profiled here are college-bound, and the Blues can let them develop for as long as the full four years in an NCAA program while the troika of Binnington, Husso and Lundström sorts itself out.
Tomek is probably the top prospect of the four goalies profiled here, but draft position does not work in favor of his becoming a member of the Blues. Realistically, Tomek will be a Top 100 pick, and the Blues currently have just two selections (58th and 94th overall) in that range. The presence of three quality young netminders in the organization, along with Jake Allen at the NHL level, means that goaltending is probably not the number one priority for the Blues at present, and they may not wish to spend one of their first two picks on a goalie.
Regardless of how good said goalie might be, or might become, there are more immediate organizational needs that could be addressed successfully with those first two selections.
Vehviläinen's strong showing at the U18 World Junior Championships has probably elevated his draft status to the Top 100 as well.