NHL Goaltending Prospects Prepare For Rookie Camp
As the NHL season draws closer, several mini prospect tournaments will take place in the next week before main camp begins. A total of 23 teams will be sending “rookie squads” to five different tournaments across North America. Four other teams will be involved in a handful of exhibition games, and the remaining three will be simply conducting intramural games prior to the opening of NHL camp.
Throughout this article, several references will be made to InGoal‘s top 50 goaltending prospects list. You can find the entire list by clicking here.
To see a list of full rosters, click on each team’s logo.
The largest gathering of prospects will take place in Traverse City, Michigan from September 11th to 15th. The eight teams that will be involved in the annual rookie tournament are: Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, NY Rangers, and St. Louis.
The Hurricanes will be bringing Merrimack grad Rasmus Tirronen and Callum Booth of the Quebec Remparts, who they selected 93rd overall this year. Tirronen was ranked 37th overall in our recent top goaltending prospect list, while Booth slotted in at 39th. Alex Nedeljkovic, the 18th-ranked goalie prospect, is recovering from offseason hip surgery and is unavailable.
The Chicago Blackhawks have decided to invite two goaltenders that are not currently in their system. Everett Silvertips netminder Austin Lotz, who competed with the Vancouver Canucks’ YoungStars team last offseason, will be joined by former Niagara Ice Dogs goaltender Brandon Hope. The 21-year-old Hope has committed to play for St. Francis Xavier University this upcoming season.
The Blue Jackets will have a formidable tandem consisting of Anton Forsberg, the 13th-ranked goaltending prospect, and Joonas Korpisalo, a former third-round pick in 2012. Both goalies will also likely be the pairing for the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters this upcoming season. Forsberg dominated the AHL in 2014-2015, but struggled during his short stint with the big club. Oscar Dansk will remain with Rögle BK, his club team in Europe.
UPDATE: Anton Forsberg has been scratched from the roster. Morgan Clark, son of Blue Jackets’ goalie coach Ian Clark, has been signed to a tryout and will be attending in Forsberg’s place.
The Dallas Stars’ net will be manned by the 26th-ranked Philippe Desrosiers, and Brent Moran, a fourth-round selection in 2014. Desrosiers was the CHL’s goaltender of the year with Rimouski last season, and will be looking to make a big splash at this year’s camp. Moran is an athletic young goaltender for the Niagara Ice Dogs, who is coming off a down season.
The Red Wings are bringing three goaltenders to Traverse City. Their top goaltending prospect Jake Paterson is turning pro, and will begin his year at rookie camp. The two others are not members of the Red Wings, but received invitations. Matthew Mancina of the Peterborough Petes will be joined by Connor Ingram of the Kamloops Blazers. Ingram was surprisingly left off the board at this year’s draft, despite a standout rookie WHL season.
Steve Michalek and Brody Hoffman are the two goalies that the Minnesota Wild will bring to the tournament. Both goaltenders are first year pros, and are coming off fantastic NCAA careers. Michalek, the 21st-ranked goaltending prospect, finished his career with Harvard University, and Hoffman, ranked 40th, elected to forego his final year with the University of Vermont. Expect both of them to end up with the AHL’s Iowa Wild this year.
The Rangers will be showing off their top goaltending prospect Brandon Halverson at the tournament. Halverson, who we ranked 23rd overall, was a second-round pick in 2014, and should return to Sault Ste. Marie when the season begins. They are bringing in their second goalie, Jacob Smith, via invitation. Smith is the starting goalie for the North Bay Battalion, and is coming off a tremendous playoff run at the end of last year. Prospects Mackenzie Skapski and Magnus Hellberg both receive a pass from attending because they are older.
UPDATE: Taylor Dupuis of the Sarnia Sting has been a late addition to the roster.
The Blues are bringing Niklas Lundstrom and Luke Opilka to the tournament. Lundstrom is a former fifth-round pick who will be suiting up in North America for the first time with the Chicago Wolves this season. Opilka is a St. Louis native that the Blues selected in the fifth round this year. He has committed to play with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. Ville Husso and the newly-acquired Pheonix Copley will report directly to main camp.
The 2015 YoungStars Classic in Penticton, British Columbia also begins on September 11th and runs until the 14th. Four Canadian clubs are involved in this tournament: Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.
The Flames will be bringing three goaltenders to Penticton; Two highly touted prospects from within their own organization, and one through a tryout. NCAA standout Jon Gillies will play alongside former second-round pick Mason McDonald. In our recent prospect ranking, Gillies was 10th overall and McDonald was ranked 15th. Nick Schneider from the Medicine Hat Tigers, who was also a surprising snub at this year’s draft, is the goaltender that will be joining them with a tryout.
While most of the attention will be on Connor McDavid, the Oilers are bringing an interesting crop of goaltenders to Penticton. Seventh-round pick Keven Bouchard will be joined by Eetu Laurikainen and Jordan Papirny. Bouchard formerly started for the Val-d’Or Foreurs, but will be playing for Baie-Comeau this year. Laurikainen is an interesting undrafted 22-year-old that the Oilers signed, who will play for Bakersfield of the AHL. Papirny is the young starting goaltender for the Brandon Wheat Kings that went undrafted earlier this year.
The Vancouver Canucks have invited Jackson Whistle to the YoungStars tournament for the second straight year. The undrafted 20-year-old will be heading back to the Kelowna Rockets for his final year of junior hockey. Clay Witt, who graduated from Northeastern University and signed an AHL contract with the Utica Comets, is the other goaltender. Thatcher Demko is still recovering from offseason hip surgery and will not be attending.
Winnipeg’s roster will feature the highest ranked goaltending duo, with Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie both attending. Hellebuyck was the top-ranked goaltender in our prospect ranking, and Comrie followed closely at number four. Both goalies are coming off brilliant seasons, and are expected to compete for playing time with the Manitoba Moose this season.
The Buffalo Sabres would traditionally send a rookie squad to Traverse City, but they have decided to organize their own tournament this year. The tournament will take place at the First Niagara Center and the brand new Harborcenter on September 12th to 14th. Three teams will be taking part: Buffalo, Boston, and New Jersey.
The Bruins will be bringing three goalies to Buffalo. Zane McIntyre, the first-year pro and 9th-ranked prospect, headlines the list. He is followed by 38th-ranked Daniel Vladar who was drafted in the third round this year, and Matt Ginn of the Providence Bruins. While McIntyre is the highest touted goalie in the group, it will be interesting to see the contrasting styles of the 6-foot-6 Vladar and 5-foot-11 Ginn. Malcolm Subban will be reporting directly to main camp.
The host Sabres will also be bringing a total of three goaltenders to the tournament; Andrey Makarov, the 42nd-ranked prospect who appeared in one game with the Sabres last year, and two former NCAA netminders, C.J. Motte and Keegan Asmundson. Motte is a Ferris State University grad that is signed to an AHL contract with the Rochester Americans, and Asmundson is a Canisius College standout who is still searching for a contract.
After this year’s draft, the New Jersey Devils suddenly boast an interesting crop of youngsters. Mackenzie Blackwood, who we ranked 16th overall, will form a tandem with Ken Appleby, who is coming off a Memorial Cup victory in May. Appleby remains a free agent and will be heading back to Oshawa for his final year of junior, but has joined the team on a tryout basis. Both goalies are imposing figures with identical 6-foot-4 frames.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will be hosting a rookie tournament at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida from September 12th to 15th. Four teams are taking part, including the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals.
The Panthers have announced that they are bringing three goalies to the tournament. Sam Brittain, who split last season between the AHL and ECHL, will be joined by recent third-round pick and 45th-ranked Samuel Montembeault, and Union College grad Colin Stevens, who we ranked 28th overall. Two other Panthers goaltending prospects appeared on our list, Evan Cowley and Hugo Fagerblom, but neither will be attending.
Nashville’s roster also features three goaltenders, and is headlined by the 6th-ranked Jusse Saros. Evan Smith of the Victoria Royals and Brandon Whitney round out the roster. Smith, an 18-year-old that is listed at 6-foot-6, was a seventh round selection by the Preds this year, and Whitney is a QMJHL grad that has signed an AHL contract with Milwaukee.
It is expected that there will be a fierce battle for playing time in Syracuse this year between Kristers Gudlevskis and Adam Wilcox, and it all begins at rookie camp. The goalies, ranked 24th and 25th respectively, will both be in attendance. The injury to Andrei Vasilesvkiy and subsequent signing of Ray Emery to a tryout contract should make for an even more interesting main camp.
The Capitals will be bringing 19th-ranked prospect Vitek Vanecek and undrafted invitee Taran Kozun to rookie camp. Vanecek will likely start the year in the ECHL to begin his North American hockey career, and Kozun is a former Seattle Thunderbird who is no longer WHL eligible and is searching for a contract. Ilya Samsonov, this year’s 22nd overall pick and third-ranked prospect, will not be attending the tournament.
There will be a rookie tournament held at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario from September 11th to 13th. Teams attending include: Montreal, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and Toronto.
The Habs will have 8th-ranked goaltending prospect Zach Fucale leading off their roster. He will be joined by undrafted Owen Sound Attack goaltender Michael McNiven. Fucale is beginning the first professional season of his career, and will likely end up with St. John’s – Montreal’s new AHL affiliate. The 18-year-old McNiven had a very solid year with Owen Sound, and will be returning for his second season with the club.
The Senators are bringing the tandem that will likely end up playing together in Binghamton of the AHL this season. Newly-signed Matt O’Connor from Boston University will play alongside Chris Driedger, who spent most of last season in the ECHL. O’Connor was ranked 22nd overall on our top goaltending prospects list last month. Driedger is a former goaltender for the Calgary Hitmen that appeared in one game with the Senators last year, and is entering his second season as a pro.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had two goaltenders that ranked in the top 20 on our prospects list, and both will be attending the rookie tournament. Matt Murray, who was ranked fifth, is coming off a record breaking season in the AHL, and Tristan Jarry, who ranked 20th, just finished his junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Both goaltenders could make up the tandem in Wilkes-Barre of the AHL this season, although Murray has an outside shot at winning the NHL backup job.
The Leafs will be bringing two undrafted, 20-year-old goaltenders from outside of their organization to the tournament. Lucas Peressini of the Kingston Frontenacs and Justin Nichols of the Guelph Storm will join the club. Peressini had a very strong regular season, but disappointing playoff with Kingston last year. At 5-foot-10, Nichols is an undersized goaltender that began his junior career in Sault Ste. Marie, and is coming off a down season with Guelph.
The Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings will play two rookie games on September 15th and 16th at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
The Coyotes will have three goaltenders on their roster: Adin Hill, Marek Langhamer, and Niklas Treutle. Hill is the goalie for the Portland Winterhawks, and is the most recent member of the Coyotes after being drafted in the third round this year. Langhamer was the starter for the Medicine Hat Tigers last season, and is the last European-born netminder to play in the CHL. He will be turning pro this year. Treutle is a German-born goaltender that the Coyotes signed to a one-year entry-level contract in hopes that he is a late bloomer.
The Kings will have four goaltenders at their rookie camp; Two from within their organization, and two invitees. 48th-ranked Alec Dillon, the new starter for the Edmonton Oil Kings, will be partnered with Patrik Bartosak, who won a Calder Cup with Manchester of the AHL last season. The two invitees are undrafted goaltenders Nick McBride and Jack Flinn. McBride plays in the WHL with Prince Albert, and Flinn is in the OHL with Owen Sound.
The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks will also engage in a two game “mini series” on September 12th and 13th. The games will be hosted by the Sharks in San Jose.
Anaheim will have three goalies on their roster. Ryan Faragher is the only pro of the three, as he split time with their AHL and ECHL affiliates last season. He will be playing for their new AHL affiliate in San Diego this upcoming season. Two WHL goaltenders, Brendan Burke and Landon Bow, will be joining by invitation. Both Burke (son of NHLer Sean) and Bow are 20 years old, undrafted, and are heading into their final seasons of junior hockey.
The San Jose Sharks have not announced an official roster yet, but their website lists Joel Rumpel as a likely candidate to attend. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin last year, and signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Sharks this offseason. Other possible attendees include Fredrik Bergvik, Mike Robinson, and John Kupsky.
The Philadelphia Flyers have announced plans to have their own rookie camp, but will not be playing any games against other teams. They have announced their roster for the event, including two goaltenders.
Second year pros Anthony Stolarz and Martin Oullette will be the goaltenders at Flyers’ rookie camp. Stolarz, a former London Knight, had an up-and-down first season with Lehigh Valley of the AHL, but still managed to secure the 17th overall spot on our top prospect ranking. Oullette, a graduate of the University of Maine, spent most of the year with the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate in Reading, but did spend some time with Lehigh Valley as well.
As of today, the Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders have not released any rosters for any rookie events.