The latest prospect decisions from the Montreal Canadiens have left the club thin in the goaltending department, something they’re likely to rectify at the 2023 NHL Draft.
For an organization with a significant amount of depth in their prospect pool, the Canadiens are in dire need of talent in the goaltending department.
Joe Vrbetic remains in the organization for the moment, as a CBA loophole allows the club to extend Vrbetic’s rights by an additional two years; but his development is far from a guarantee as well.
It’s become increasingly clear that the Canadiens will need to add a goaltender to their ranks in this draft.
Luckily for the Montreal Canadiens, there will be a group of goaltenders likely to be available between the early 2nd round and the middle of the 3rd round that could be major additions to their pipeline.
Here are some potential options:
Jacob Fowler is likely the biggest riser on this list, and the goaltender with the most amount of momentum heading into the 2023 NHL Draft.
Playing for the potent Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL, Fowler posted a 27-9-3 record during the regular season, sporting a 0.921 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average.
His solid performance, especially for a draft-eligible player, earned him the honours of Goaltender Of The Year in the USHL.
Fowler didn’t stop there, as he took his game up a notch in the USHL playoffs, going 7-1 with a .952 save percentage and a sparkling 1.36 goals-against average.
His performances help push Youngstown to their first ever USHL title, with Fowler earning MVP honours in the process.
The 6-foot-2, 201-pound goaltender has lots of room to grow, as he plays a sound positional game, with great lateral movement.
He’s set to play for a very potent Boston College roster next season, which will be fantastic for his development.
WHAT A SAVE BY JACOB FOWLER!! 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/YFOOF5MCNA
— Youngstown Phantoms (@YtownPhantoms) November 12, 2022
Initially viewed as the top goaltender of this class, Michael Hrabal now has some stiff competition.
Dominating at the U-8 level in his native Czhecia last season, Hrabal made the jump to the USHL this season, where he started the season off rather strong.
Unfortunately, his performances dipped in the second half of the season, as he posted a 9-13-4 record to close out the season; along with a .908 save percentage and a 2.86 goals-against average.
Fortunately, Hrabal was able to bounce back in a big way, with a solid performance for Czechia at the IIHF U-18 World Championships, where he posted a .920 save percentage despite having a record of 1-4 throughout the tournament.
It’s possible that Hrabal, who was initially thought as a potential late 1st-round pick, takes a tumble down the rankings into the early second round, but that is good news for the Montreal Canadiens, who could snag the athletic goalie without having to use a 1st-round pick.
# 2 is Michael Hrabal (Omaha, USHL)
The 1st thing you notice is size. He's a mountain in the net. He's tough to beat on a shot from distance, especially if he can get to the top of the crease, and in this clip he faces an impromptu 3-on-1 and holds onto the rebound. #2023NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/jMYFpgoBlD
— Shaun Richardson (@SDRscouting) April 19, 2023
Cool, calm and collected would be the best way to describe Trey Augustine, as the 18-year-old already has a wealth of experience at such a young age in pressure situations.
Playing for the US National Development Team for the last two seasons, Augustine put up some impressive numbers as a 16 and 17-year-old; improving from a 0.911 save percentage in 21-22 to a 0.926 save percentage in 22-23.
The 6-foot-one, 180-pounds goaltender has also been the goalie of choice for Team USA over the last 18 months; representing his country in two consecutive U-18 tournaments, while also playing as a 17-year-old in this year’s Wolrd Junior Championship.
Augustine reads the ice quite well and has a very competitive style. He’s able to swing from post-to-post rather quickly, while having good control of his pushes;giving a good combination of power and technique.
Initially viewed as a potential 3rd-round pick, Augstine’s performances on the international scene of late are likely to earn him a boost into the 2nd-round.
The Canadians are pressing but Trey Augustine (#2023NHLDraft) makes a few key saves to keep the Americans within one of tying this game.
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) January 5, 2023