Part Five of my Prospect Profile series looks at a handful of young goaltenders in the Oilers system. Goaltending is easily the most important position on a hockey team. And with more teams locking up all-star goalies long term, the need to develop your own guy to be in the crease is more important than ever.
At 21 years old, Zack Nagelvoort is preparing for his third year at the University of Michigan. Drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 Entry Draft, Nagelvoort is a goalie prospect that seems to have been lost in the shuffle by Oilers fans. At 6’2″, his height is almost below average when it comes to NHL goalies these days, as the trend has been moving towards larger goalies. That doesn’t seem to be an issue at U of Michigan, as Nagelvoort has gotten the lions share of starts in the last two seasons, posting records of 11-9-3 and 11-9-0 in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, respectively. His stats during those two years aren’t terribly impressive, with a GAA of 2.42 and a save percentage of 0.918.
There’s a big question mark, in my opinion, as to whether or not Nagelvoort is going to develop into anything for the Oilers. I personally feel he’s behind many of the prospects the Oilers have in net, including newly drafted Miroslav Svboda. He did not stand out at all during the development camp. I n fact, camp invite Jordan Paperny of the Brandon Wheat Kings had a better showing than Nagelvoort. There’s a chance that two more years in college could help. That being said, Nagelvoort wouldn’t be facing the type of competition he would need to develop into an NHL goalie. And with a bevy of goalies already signed, I don’t imagine the Oilers are going to be offering Nagelvoort a contract to come out of college anytime soon. Unfortunately, I can see this being another case of a goalie drafted by the Oilers, that turns into nothing more than a wasted draft pick.
If there is one player in the Oilers system that would love a mulligan on last season, it’s Keven Bouchard. His stats last year playing with the Val-d’Or Foreurs were absolutely abysmal, (3.85 GAA and 0.872 S%) with a record of 15-13-5 in his 36 games. He’s a big body, but his mobility is lacking, particularly his side to side motion in the crease. Traded to Baie-Comeau Drakkar at the QMJHL Bantam draft, hopefully a change of scenery can jump start Bouchard’s development.
As with Nagelvoort, Bouchard is projecting to be another bust from the 2014 draft, after being taken in the 7th round. He’s well behind both Svboda and Laurent Brossoit, and like Nagelvoort, saw himself be outperformed by Paperny at the development camp. Honestly, I don’t really have anything else to say about this kid, other than I hope he’s able to salvage what’s left of his junior career, as I can’t see him advancing anywhere beyond that barring a major turn around.
A relative dark horse when it comes to Oilers goalie prospects, one has to wonder just what Eetu Laurikainen is going to add to the system. He’s already dipped his feet into pro hockey, spending last year with the Blues of the SM-Iiiga in Finland. In his 37 games, Laurikainen compiled a record of 17-10-9, while posting a GAA of 2.10 and a 0.933 save percentage. However, Laurikainen is no stranger to the North American game, having spent two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos on the WHL. As the starter for the Broncos, Laurikainen posted both a 30 and a 25 win season.
I would imagine coming into this year, Laurikainen will be playing in Europe once again. The Oilers have three goalies coming into training camp on one-way deals, and I assume will be letting Brossoit run with the starting job in Bakersfield for the majority of the year. But it never hurts to have a goalie prospect in the system who is cutting his teeth in pro hockey, putting up respectable numbers at that.