The 2021 NHL Draft will be held July 23-24. NHL.com is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects and other features. Today, a look at the top eligible goalies in a Q&A with Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting. NHL.com’s full draft coverage can be found here.
If Jesper Wallstedt and Sebastian Cossa are selected in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, it will be the first time in nine years that two goalies are chosen in the opening round (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning, No. 19; Malcolm Subban, Boston Bruins, No. 24 in the 2012 NHL Draft).
The first round is scheduled for July 23 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN NOW). Rounds 2-7 are scheduled July 24 (11 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN NOW).
Wallstedt (6-foot-3, 214 pounds), No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of International goalies, was 11-8 with three ties, a 2.23 goals-against average, .908 save percentage and two shutouts in 22 games for Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League, the top professional men’s league in Sweden.
Cossa (6-6, 210), No. 1 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American goalies, was 17-1-1 with a 1.57 GAA, .941 save percentage and four shutouts in 19 games for Edmonton of the Western Hockey League. He is 38-7-4 with a 1.98 GAA, .928 save percentage and eight shutouts in 52 games in two WHL seasons.
“I think the two of them are head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class of goalies right now,” said Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting.
To break down many of the top eligible goalies in the draft, here are five questions with Jensen:
What are your expectations of Wallstedt, and would you consider him a generational goaltender?
“He’s playing at a higher level, is a big kid, has a lot of good skills. I could see him in 2-3 years getting a chance in the NHL, maybe ahead of the other guys, but it doesn’t mean the other guys won’t catch up. I think Wallstedt might be ahead, physically and in experience at the higher level to jump to the NHL. It depends on who drafts him and who they have in their system.”
What do you like about Cossa?
“He’s got the calmness, strength and confidence that you need. And for his size, he moves extremely well, gives himself a chance, battles hard and never gives up on plays. He has great net coverage, whether it’s flaring out his pads for the low corners, but he also keeps his body upright in case there’s a deflection so he could use his shoulders or gloves. He’s so smart at reading plays, being square to the shots.”
Do you see Sarnia’s Benjamin Gaudreau (No. 2 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American goalies) as a legitimate NHL starter someday?
“I see quickness, athleticism, battle, and he competes probably better than a lot of the goalies I’ve seen. His lateral quickness is good. If there’s a downside, maybe he got a little anxious at times and I think a lot of that was because he hadn’t played all year and all of a sudden you’re thrown in and a lot of the guys have played (at the 2021 Under-18 World Championship). He dances around in the net, has great feet and his recovery is excellent. I see Jack Campbell (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Tristan Jarry (Pittsburgh Penguins) in him.”
Are there any goalies outside the top five on Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American goalies you feel could end up playing a significant role on an NHL team in 4-6 years?
“Francesco Lapenna (No. 7 in Central Scouting’s final rankings) of Drummondville (in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) reminds me of Jose Theodore. He’s not a huge goalie but his skills are excellent and he’s fun to watch. Wherever he gets drafted, that team is going to see what they got to work with here. I think he’s going to have a chance someday. The other guy that we’ve had on the list is Cameron Rowe (No. 13) of the University of Wisconsin. He’s a big, strong goalie who keeps getting better. He’s got strength and skills and I can see a goalie coach getting a hold of him and it working out well. He had an exceptional first year at Wisconsin.”
Are teams scouting goalies differently now after watching Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) and Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) have some immediate success with their teams?
“The goalies getting drafted can’t have the mindset to hurry the process, but just get that experience, wait 3-4 years and after that, hopefully you develop into something because when you get that chance, you have to be ready. It’s tough when you get there because you want to stay there. Also, it used to be that goalies had to be 6-foot-3, 6-4, or 6-5, but there are some good smaller-sized NHL goalies playing really well. Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators, 5-foot-11) comes to mind. He’s so strong, but he took a few years before he got his chance.”
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