Carter Hart Wins CHL Goaltender of the Year
Standing 6-foot-1 and just 170 lbs, 2016 draft-eligible goaltender Carter Hart bucks the logic that bigger is always better when it comes to goaltending talent.
Hart first earned himself notice in the CHL during a breakout 2014-15 season, when the Edmonton native earned the best goals-against average in the WHL for the Everett Silvertips. He started off the year as a 16-year-old backup goaltender on the major junior squad, but slowly ousted starter Austin Lotz by the postseason, growing a following as he went.
This year he truly broke out – enough that he took home both the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL Goaltender of the Year and now the CHL Goaltender of the Year honors ahead of the upcoming 2016 NHL Draft.
InGoal Magazine talked to Hart earlier in the year, attributing a large portion of his success to his eyesight and tracking abilities. Focus and ability to track the play aren’t just a tool for goaltenders, in the undersized Hart’s eyes – they’re absolutely everything.
Hardly a surprise, as Hart is one of Braden Holtby’s biggest fans. He’s taken the tips and tricks he’s seen the Capitals starter use, and he’s implemented them into his own game to get better.
That earned him accolades as the best goaltender across the three top-tier Canadian major junior leagues.
Through a whopping 63 regular season games this year, Hart improved upon his numbers from last season by posting a .918 save percentage in all situations, allowing just 2.14 GAA during that span. He then posted near-identical numbers to his breakout postseason performance from last year during a six-game playoff run this year, putting up a .929 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA.
The Silvertips weren’t the only group that got to benefit from Hart’s stellar play, either.
Canada didn’t manage to take home the gold at either the U18 or U20 World Junior Championships this year, but they did earn an eighth consecutive gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this past fall – and they did so with Hart in net for two of the games, posting a .903 save percentage and allowing just 1.50 GAA in total. He also held the net for the WHL All Stars game, and was the Team Red starter for the Canadian U18 development camp earlier in the year.
Altogether, it was an impressive season for the draft-eligible Hart.
The biggest knock against him, of course, is his height.
Despite a suggestion that goaltenders in the 6-foot to 6-foot-2 range are perfectly capable of commanding good net presence at the highest levels, there’s still a growing stigma against goaltenders that don’t look like Ben Bishop; teams feel best picking up goaltenders that have the one asset that can’t be taught in massive size.
Standing small against the competition, though, the decorated season that Hart has had suggests that the team prepared to draft him this summer will have an absolute stud on their hands.
He’s ranked #1 among North American goaltenders by NHL Central Scouting, and could be the top-drafted goaltender this summer. For the Alberta native, that’s an exciting prospect – but even if top-ranked Evan Fitzpatrick goes before him, an NHL team is about to add some talent to their system.