First off, what a blast! Bunch of terrific hockey players, all American-born draft eligible kids. Tickets were cheap, concessions at the Wells Fargo Center were open, and I was probably the only guy in the building with no reason to be there. Except I like hockey, and I’m obsessed with goalies.
All-Star exhibition games like this obviously aren’t an optimal environment for goalie evaluation. There were 4 goalies, each playing half the game. Each gave up at least one goal. I wasn’t interested in how many goals each gave up, or how many shots they faced, as much as I was in watching how each played the position.
Interestingly, all of them made errors handling the puck. I was less surprised that they committed the errors as much as I was by the volume and type of errors that they all made. I fully expected that unfamiliar defensemen and the speed of the forecheck in an all-star game like this could lead to some misplayed dump-ins and some ill-advised passes, but the biggest surprise to me was what appeared to be a lack of urgency to cleanly intercept the puck on dump-ins, and a degree of imprecision in their footwork. They’ll all be studying the tape, I imagine!
On to the individuals.
Jake is a BU commit, a likely high round draft pick, and looked fully like the real deal. Toe-on-the-crease depth with solid angle positioning, used both RVH and VH techniques on post seals. I’m not sure if he's worked with the visual coaches and head trajectory folks out there, but he looks it. Solid seal in a wide butterfly, relies on body angling and forward, steady hand positioning to take away vertical angles. The only goal he gave up came while he was reaching forward to cover a loose puck in a scramble after an initial RVH wraparound jam save. He seems worthy of his hype.
Keith had the highest number of difficult saves to make on the evening. He was my second most-impressive goalie of the four, though a clear runner-up to Oettinger.
He’s a Quinnipiac commit for 2018. Tall, rangy kid, currently about 6’6” (according to his dad, who I randomly happened to be standing next to during the warm-up session). He plays an efficient style that takes full advantage of his size, with mainly toe-on-crease depth. He seemed to track the puck well from below the goal line, and showed excellent, fluid mobility off the posts.
He did give up two top corner glove side goals, both on right handed shots from his right after cross ice passes, with a slight delay on the release. Tough plays for sure, and he may have shuffled very slightly off angle, but he was beaten on both because of a slight clockwise-and-down glove rotation (pretty common in the NHL too) which allowed the pucks to just barely clear the top of his glove hand. Without those two goals, he’s the star of the night.
Interesting player. NHL stock (Dad is Keith Primeau), Northeastern commit. Playing USHL, along with the two already mentioned. I have a tough time evaluating goalies like Cayden, who played very well but has a couple of characteristics that concern me. The first is that he looks like a fidgety kid in net. It’s not that he isn’t “calm and cool,” it’s that he has a defined routine of bumping his chest protector with a hand, then hitting stick to glove. I’ve seen that a lot, but his seemed excessive. I noticed it at least twice with puck possession being contested within the face-off circles. I’d also like to see him minimize his post-save motion. He has a tendency to lean forward over body saves, or lean over to the side on 6- or 7-hole stops. Again this is idiosyncratic and not uncommon, but I’m not sure its a good idea to consistently give the impression that he’s not in total control of the puck.
The other thing about Cayden is that he seems to be a first-save-committed type of goalie. He drops into butterfly to make his saves, then either holds his body stock still or does his post-save lean if he thinks he has control of the puck. I don't remember that he was beaten by any clean shots. However, several times I saw the puck hit off his shoulder, and noticed that his head never moved after contact to find the rebound. I’m sure that hasn't hurt him to this point, but it’s a habit I worry about. I’ve seen goalies like him before, and I get that it’s a style and focus thing. Body discipline is a great thing and I’m all for it, but tracking the puck can’t pause, even for a split second. Once he makes his first save, he needs to be finding the rebound or he’ll be behind the play at the next level.
National Development Program goalie, Notre Dame commit. He seems pretty quick, and he has nice size, but Adam had a tough night to my eye. Very early in the game he had a turnover handling the puck from behind the net that led to the first goal, and he looked a little tentative after that. I’ll give him a pass on this under the circumstances, and I’m more concerned about his positioning anyway, specifically his depth. Even in warmups, he was a full foot outside the crease. It’s too easy to get off angle or trail the play at that depth, and there’s so much more ground to recover when facing teams with quick puck movement. On one of his goals against, the puck released from his blocker side to the low slot on his glove side, and he had absolutely no chance to make a play on the scoring shot. Unless you're Jonathan Quick playing with the Kings 2012 or 2014 defense around you, that’s just not enough margin for error. I'd like to see him position a little less aggressively, and make his life a whole lot easier.
So that’s my scouting report on four kids who have obviously worked hard, excelled at their position, and have bright futures. I’d like to see Adam Scheel play a little more conservatively, and Cayden Primeau play a little less idiosyncratically. If Keith Petruzzelli stabilizes his glove just a little, he’ll be tremendous. And Jake Oettinger? Well, he just needs to make sure everyone keeps spelling his name correctly.