“If you’re good enough, they’ll find you!”
People constantly worry about where a certain prospect should play in an effort to maximize exposure to scouts. But the search for legitimate talent no longer has boundaries or borders. Professional and amateur scouts travel widely in search of new talent to improve their hockey clubs.
This observational study is meant to provide the reader with current goaltending trends about the NHL Draft. The analysis includes all drafted goaltenders selected between 2001 and 2013 only, and does not account for any prospects acquired through free agency, whether they went on to play in the NHL or not.
All raw data was obtained from a review of the International Hockey Data Base.
Within the study’s time frame, twelve countries contributed goalies to the NHL Draft, and a total of 321 goaltenders were selected.
Canada produced the largest number of NHL prospects with a total of 165.
The Canadian Hockey League is the single best league from which to get drafted to the NHL, producing 144 draftees. The Ontario Hockey League led with 56, while the Western Hockey league and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League produced 48 and 40, respectively.
The United States was second with a strong showing of 64 prospects. These prospects came from several leagues considered amateur in status.
The United States Hockey League, the only Tier I US-based league, contributed 13 draftees, or 20 per cent of the US total; however, if one includes the US National Development Training Program, which plays in the USHL out of Ann Arbor, the fraction increases to 34 per cent of the US total and 7 per cent of the overall total.
The North American Hockey League (Tier II) produced eight prospects for a US value of 13 per cent.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association contributed 28 per cent of the US total with 18 prospects.
USA Hockey added 16 additional prospects (40 per cent) from Tier III junior leagues, US high schools, preparatory schools and minor hockey.
In regard to North American Tier II junior leagues, it’s interesting to note that a total of 29 prospects, or 9 per cent of the overall total, were selected from a total of eight Canadian and US-based leagues. These include the NAHL (North American Hockey League), BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League), AJHL (Alberta), SJHL (Saskatchewan), MJHL (Manitoba) and OJHL (Ontario) and the former NOJHA and QJAHL .
The greatest Canadian-based Tier II league to produce prospects is the Albert League (7) followed by the well-known BCHL (6).
Therefore, goaltenders are being scouted and selected from a wide variety of locations and leagues across the North American continent.
The Scandinavian nations contributed a total of 54 professional prospects. To no real surprise, Finland led the way with 30. Sweden had 22 goaltenders selected, with Norwegian and Danish leagues each registering one draftee. An additional Dane was drafted but he played in the Swedish Elite League.
Other European countries to contribute include the Czech Republic (12), Russia (12), Germany (6), Switzerland (5), and Slovakia (2).
The only atypical market to contribute one prospect is Japan with Yutaka Fukufuji.
The following graph presents the above noted statistics in bar graph form for the study’s defined beginning to end point on a league basis:
The more important objective is however to see whether a drafted prospect can take advantage of this opportunity and eventually advance to the NHL.
The following three graphs visually assist the reader in seeing how many prospects from each draft class achieved this ultimate goal.
The second graph illustrates the number of goaltenders selected on an annual basis for the study’s time limit. This number ranges from (18) in 2011 to (34) in 2003; however, in 2005, the draft was also reduced from nine to seven rounds. The graph also reveals what percentage of the entire draft was goaltender selection only.
The third graph reveals the number from each draft class that went on to appear in at least one NHL regular season game.
The fourth graph represents the number of goaltenders appearing in at least one NHL regular season game as a percentage of the entire goaltender draft class:.
Furthermore, if one disregards the classes of 2011 through 2013, the percentage of goalies achieving their dreams of an NHL “start” from 2001 to 2010 is 93/232 or 37 per cent. This does not seem to be a poor number.
Nevertheless, the reality remains that only slightly more than one third of all drafted prospects made a NHL appearance.
Also, in no way shape or form does the value of 37 per cent suggest any legitimacy or longevity in the league; however, a decision was made not to present this data in the current article. The data is also slightly skewed since playing less than one period is still recorded statistically as one game played.
In conclusion, the study’s principle end point is confirmed.
The quote at the top of this article is an old cliché echoed in conversations at arenas everywhere – “If you’re good enough, they’ll find you!”
The author will continue analysis of other aspects of the NHL entry draft history complimentary to findings presented herein in a soon to come article.