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2014 NHL Draft Goalie Breakdowns (with Video)

2014 NHL Draft Goalie Breakdowns (with Video)

2014 NHL Draft logoFor the second straight year and fourth time in the past six years, no goaltender was selected in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday night, but it didn’t take long for goalies to start coming off the board when the second round started on Day 2. The domino effect started when the Calgary Flames took Mason McDonald 34th overall, and by the time Round 2 ended, five goalies had been selected.

“What happen with the goaltenders, once one is taken there is a run on them,” said Brian Burke, the Flames President of Hockey Operations. “So good goaltenders, you either take them in the second or third round or you watch them play somewhere else for a dozen years.”

With fans itching to see what the goalies their team drafted are all about, and footage sometimes hard to find, InGoal compiled GIF albums of many of the goaltenders ranked on the central scouting list.

The eight goaltenders selected in Rounds 2 and 3 are highlighted below, while goaltenders picked in Rounds 4 through 7 can be found by clicking here. InGoal also recommends checking out some of the in-depth statistical evaluations done on the NHL Draft done by valued contributor Tomas Hertz, including an observational study about where all drafted NHL goalies came from between 2001 and 2013, as well as a team-by-team breakdown and analysis of goalie drafting.

Mason McDonald

Calgary Flames (2nd round, 34th overall)

Canadian, 6-foot-4, 178 pounds, played for Charlottetown in QMJHL

Mason McDonaldSee the full GIF album

Mason McDonald is a tall, lanky righty out of the QMJHL that has been impressing ever since he broke into the league last season.

McDonald climbed the draft ranks with a strong second half and was named top goaltender at the 2014 World Under-18 Championship in April after backstopping Canada to a bronze medal with a tournament-leading .929 save percentage. Still a few years away and considered raw by some, he is one of the most talented goaltenders available in this draft. He gets by on his size and strength, but the Flames will be hoping that he gets even better with some refinements to his game.

You can’t get by simply on size alone. Flames fans don’t have to think back very far to remember a goaltender by the name of Brent Krahn that they drafted 9th overall in 2000. His 6-foot-5 frame made scouts go crazy, but he ended up playing only a single NHL game. McDonald is still a kid and is still learning how to properly use his size to his advantage, but this pick is all about potential. If he is able to develop into the goalie the Flames think he can be, coupled with his size, then this could turn out to be a very good pick.

“We had Mason McDonald rated the highest of the goaltenders,” Burke said.

Thatcher Demko

Vancouver Canucks (2nd round, 36th overall)

American, 6-foot-3, 192 pounds, played for Boston College in NCAA

DemkoSee full GIF album

Thatcher Demko came into the draft as the consensus top ranked goaltender, but didn’t end up being the first goalie selected. The Canucks were fine with that, as they were thrilled to take him 36th overall. He has the size of an elite level goaltender, but his stock may have fallen a bit with pre-draft reports that he might need surgery on both of his hips in the near future.

If Eddie Lack’s performance a season after hip surgery isn’t enough consolation enough, Winnipeg Jets prospect Eric Comrie can assure concerned Canucks fans it doesn’t have to be a bad thing to have both hips repaired. Comrie had surgery on each hip six days apart in early January, ending his 2012-13 season early and likely dropping him in last year’s NHL Draft, but was back on ice in June, finished second in the WHL with a .925 save percentage, and is a front runner for Canada’s next World Junior team.
Comrie told InGoal Magazine he felt better physically after the surgery, something other goalies right up the NHL have also expressed.

“Right now, I feel way better than I did before,” Comrie told InGoal mid-season. “I feel more flexible, quicker side to side, stronger and more stable in my movements. I feel like I have more mobility in the butterfly and probably a little bit wider butterfly too. I have always been a flexible guy, but right now, I can get in and out of the splits way quicker than I have been able to before. Not only that, but I feel like I am more stable in the butterfly and more stable in the splits and when I have to get athletic in my movements. I feel like I have more body control and body awareness when I make those movements.”

Alex Nedeljkovic

Carolina Hurricanes (2nd round, 37th overall)

American, 5-foot-11, 19o pounds, played for Plymouth in OHL

NedelijkovicSee full GIF album

Undersized by modern ideals for NHL goaltending, the 5-foot-11 Nedeljkovic jumped up the scouting lists after earning key starts two seasons ago ahead of Plymouth incumbent Matt Mahalak, who was a sixth-round pick of the Hurricanes in 2011. He stayed there by following it up with an impressive second season in 2013-14, earning OHL Goaltender of the Year honours and backstopping the U.S. to gold at the 2014 World Under-18 Championship in Finland. Nedeljkovic went slightly ahead of his projection as the fourth-ranked North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting and becomes the 17th Plymouth player picked by the Hurricanes in 21 years – both teams are owned by Peter Karmanos – but this is hardly a hockey nepotism pick. When InGoal caught up with the Ohio native his maturity in this interview was impressive.

Judging by the GIF album, so is his reactionary ability and compete level.

“I never give up on a play. I’m always battling and competing no matter what the score is,” he told the Carolina News and Observer.

Vitek Vanecek

Washington Capitals (2nd round, 39th overall)

Czech, 6-foot, 165 pounds, played for HC Bílí Tygri Liberec Jr.

VanecekSee full GIF album

The Capitals went well off the board to make this athletic Czech the fourth goalie selected in the draft. Vanecek was ranked eighth among European goaltenders by NHL Central Scouting, but according to the draft story in the Washington Post, the Capitals were impressed enough with his performance at tournament last summer and again at this year’s Under-18 World Championships to reach a little.

“We thought he was one of the reasons why the Czech team had such a good tournament,” assistant general manager Ross Mahoney told The Post. “Very athletic, very competitive. That’s probably the qualities that made him most attractive to us. We didn’t think he’d be later. You target certain players and do everything you can to try to move up to take them. We’re really happy to have the opportunity to take him.”


Brandon Halverson

New York Rangers (2nd round, 59th overall)

Canadian, 6-foot-4, 176 pounds, played for Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in OHL

HalversonSee full GIF album

The Rangers were open about adding a goaltender for the future at this year’s NHL Draft when they talked with the Blueshirts United blog, and they made good on that promise with two picks that Gordie Clark, the Rangers Director Player Personnel forecast as being “four, five, six years away from being at the NHL level.” Which sounds about right given the contract extension for Henrik Lundqvist.

Halverson was the first of two goalies picked by the Rangers. The sixth-ranked North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting, Halverson played 19 games in the OHL as the backup to Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Matt Murray, posting a .904 save percentage, so this pick is about size, potential and the possibility of fitting into goalie guru Benoit Allaire’s style preference.

“We’ve always had the philosophy that we just don’t want to take any (goaltender) if we think he’s going to be a back up some day, we want a No. 1,” Clark told Blueshirts United of Halverson, the highest picked Rangers goalie in seven years.

Jonas Johansson

Buffalo Sabres (3rd round, 61st overall)

Swedish, 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, played for Brynas in Swedish U-20

JohanssonSee full GIF album

The Sabres added another Swede to their puck-stopping stable, with Jhonas Enroth already in Buffalo vying to keep the top job ahead of Michal Neuvirth and Linus Ullmark already in the system. While it’s unclear who will be coaching the goalies in Buffalo this season – Arturs Irbe is the name other goalie coaches in the NHL keeps hearing for the job – Johansson will remain in the very capable hands of Brynas goalie coach Pekka Alcen, whose past students include Anders Lindback, top Columbus prospect Oskar Dansk, new Boston backup Niklas Svedberg, and the Vancouver Canucks trio of Eddie Lack, Jacob Markstrom and Joacim Eriksson.

Johansson spent most of last season on the under-20 team there, but also played four games in the top Swedish Hockey League, formerly known as the Swedish Elite League, and despite the GIF album showing several saves near the top of his crease has earned numerous media comparisons to Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist because he plays deeper in his crease. Whether that’s right or not, the Sabres certainly saw enough of another Lundqvist trait – athleticism – to take the second-ranked European goalie despite the lack of a pressing need.

“It wasn’t a shot in the dark because our scouts like him,” general manager Tim Murray told the Buffalo News. “I didn’t see him. He’s athletic. That’s the one question I asked after you see the size. Is he athletic? They assured me that he was and we’ve got lots of time to develop him.”

Elvis Merzlikins

Columbus Blue Jackets (3rd round, 76th overall)

Latvian, 6-foot-2, 183 pounds, played for HC Lugano in Switzerland

MerzlikinsSee full GIF album

The Blue Jackets continue to build up an impressive puck-stopping prospect pool and with Ian Clark leading the development paths, Columbus appears set to be a “build, don’t buy” team between the pipes for a long time, allowing them to pick and choose which goalies to keep and which ones to sell for other assets in the future.

Merzlikins is from Latvia, but posted a .925 save percentage in 22 games last season for HC Lugano in the Swiss League. Lanky and athletic, he was ranked sixth among European goaltender by NHL Central Scouting, but the Blue Jackets may have had some inside insight in making him the seventh goalie selected overall: the goaltending coach in Lugano is Leo Luongo, who is Roberto Luongo’s brother, who has a strong relationship with Clark.

With Russian star Sergei Bobrovsky already in place through next season, Merzlikins joins a international prospect list that includes Swedes Oskar Dansk and Anton Forsberg, and Finnish goalie Joonas Korpisalo.

Ilya Sorokin

New York Islanders (3rd round, 78th overall)

Russian, 6-foot, 160 pounds, played for Metallurg Novokuznetsk in KHL.

SorokinSee full GIF album

Ranked fifth among European goalies by NHL Central Scouting, Sorokin has already played 32 regular season games in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, posting a .912 save percentage over the past two seasons, and a .929 save percentage in the Nadezhda Cup, a consolation tournament for KHL teams that don’t make the playoffs. Described as fast and athletic, there will undoubtedly be a transition to a much different North American game from the KHL, but much like fellow Russians Semyon Varlamov and Bobrovsky, those raw skills could serve Sorokin well.

To keep reading about the goalies selected from Round 4 through Round 7, click here.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.


  1. Martin Bush

    I was surprised to see tht Kurtis Mucha was not considered for the NHL draft. Played for the WHL where he set two records and then with University of Alberta, where he won goalie of the year honors in 2012-2013. Hopefully he will get looked at and picked up by someone.

  2. Warren Shapiro

    Well it looks like the future NHL are in capable hands of these future goalies, Also not to mention they will improve stuff through the ECHL and the AHL. So make that GLOVE SAVE or KICK SAVE see you guys soon.