6 Red Wings Goalie Prospects to Keep an Eye On
November 16, 2020
With the absence of an elite goaltending prospect in their system, the Red Wings are still in search of their long-term answer between the pipes. Although none of the current Red Wings goalie prospects has established themselves as the favorite to lead them out of the rebuild, Detroit does have a number of interesting netminders that will be looking to impress in 2020-21 and beyond.
When the Red Wings drafted Jan Bednar in the 4th round of the 2020 draft they continued a recent trend: Detroit has taken at least one goaltender in every draft since 2014. In fact, they’re the only team in the NHL to do so.
The Red Wings may not have their goalie of the future in the system, but you can’t say they haven’t taken their shots by drafting and developing enough prospects.
Since 2014, Detroit has drafted a total of 8 goaltenders. Unfortunately, exactly zero of them have played an NHL game. This isn’t exactly surprising, as all of these goalies are still 24 or under, but their overall career progression (as a whole) hasn’t been very inspiring either.
Goalies are extremely difficult to evaluate. They take a lot longer to develop, and even the best of them have off-years and struggle with inconsistency. Even Dominik Hasek, arguably the greatest of all time, was 29-years old when he first established himself as an NHL starter. He had played just 53 games in total over the previous three years and had a career SV% under .900 before settling in as a starter (and perennial Vezina contender, of course).
It’s no secret that teams have to be patient with young netminders. Luckily, the Red Wings are in a position where they needn’t rush any of their prospects.
Although 8 goalies have been drafted by the Wings since 2014, let’s focus on the 6 they’ve added since 2016. These goalies will give a more accurate representation of the current state of the Red Wings goalie prospect pipeline.
Filip Larsson, 22 (2016 – 6th Round, 167th Overall)
Of this group, Larsson is the closest to the NHL.
However, after signing a three-year entry-level deal with the Red Wings, The Swedish netminder had a very shaky 2019-20 with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye (ECHL).
Larsson began the season with the Griffins and posted a 4.01 GAA and .843 SV% in 7 games. This led to a quick demotion to Toledo, where Larsson played to a more respectable, but still underwhelming, stat line of 2.72 GAA and .910 SV% while missing some time due to injury.
This was Larsson’s first encounter with adversity. He had just completed three strong seasons with Djurgårdens IF J20 (J20 SuperElit), the Tri-City Storm (USHL), and the University of Denver (NCAA).
Larsson was the USHL goaltender of the year in 2018 after posting an all-time league-best .941 SV%. He followed that up with a .932 SV% in 21 games for the Univ. of Denver in 2018-19 where he led the Pioneers to the frozen four.
Larsson has been praised for his elite hockey sense. He’s calm in the net and tracks pucks with little wasted movement. He has solid rebound control and good overall positioning as well.
Larsson was looking like a potential late-round steal prior to last season, and shouldn’t be written off after his first bump in the road. He’s not the first netminder to struggle after their first go-round in the AHL.
The 6’2″ and 181 lbs, Larsson is the smallest of the Red Wings goalie prospects. And at just 22 years old, he’ll be given at least a few more seasons to prove he belongs in the conversation of future Red Wings starter. He could also find his way onto RWP’s Top 20 list with a strong season in 2021.
Larsson suffered a broken finger last month and should be returning soon for Almtuna IS (Allsvenskan), who he was loaned to earlier this season.
Keith Petruzzelli, 21 (2017 – 3rd Round, 88th Overall)
Keith Petruzzelli is my pick for top goaltending prospect in the Red Wings organization (he checked in at 15 on RWP’s 2020 Prospect Rankings), though it is worth noting that this could change quickly.
It’s almost a coin flip between him and Larsson at this time. With goaltending prospects, recency bias is all too real and tough to avoid.
Chosen in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft, Petruzzelli was a highly-regarded netminder who was projected by many to go off the board in the 2nd round. The big American had a strong season for Muskegon (USHL) in his draft year with a 2.40 GAA and .918 SV% in 35 games for the Lumberjacks.
Petruzzelli then began his collegiate career as a backup for the Quinnipiac Bobcats (NCAA) and showed some nice year-by-year progression before seizing the starter’s role in 2019-20. As a junior, Petruzzelli was named the team’s MVP after starting all 34 games for the Bobcats and posting a 2.01 GAA and .920 SV%.
The 6’5″ goalie is still listed at just 185 lbs on both the Quinnipiac website and eliteprospects.com, but I have a hard time believing that’s accurate — these measurements haven’t changed since his draft year. Petruzzelli will, however, need to continue to add strength in order to survive the rigors of an NHL season.
Petruzzelli uses his size well and is surprisingly quick for a tall, lanky goaltender. He’s very athletic but doesn’t rely on his athleticism. He’s efficient with his movements, has good positioning, and uses that size well when cutting down angles.
Petruzzelli’s glove has always been a relative weakness as his inability to corral pucks can lead to costly rebounds, but the overall calmness to his game is something that’s difficult to teach. He isn’t overly aggressive and lets the play come to him.
Petruzzelli will look to have another strong showing for Quinnipiac in his senior year. If he does, the Red Wings should be expected to ink him to a three-year entry-level deal. All eyes will be on the big netminder for the 2020-21 season in hopes he can build off his exceptional junior season with the Bobcats and turn pro the following season.
Jesper Eliasson, 20 (2018 – 3rd Round, 84th Overall)
Eliasson was the first of two Swedish goaltenders taken by Detroit in the 2018 draft.
The 6’3″, 209 lb Swede suited up for IF Troja-Ljungby (J18 and J20 Elit) during his draft year and posted a sub – 2.00 GAA and a SV% north of .930 for both squads.
In Eliasson’s draft-plus-1 season, he played 33 games for the Växjö Lakers HC of the SuperElit league in Sweden where he posted a 2.43 GAA and finished in the top 5 in the league with a .919 SV%.
Last season, Eliasson was loaned to Almtuna IS of Sweden’s second strongest league, HockeyAllsvenskan. There, he appeared in 25 games with a GAA north of 3.00. Eliasson did make Sweden’s U20 World Juniors squad in 2020 and started one game. He allowed 2 goals on 19 shots in a 6-2 win against Kazakhstan.
Now under contract with Färjestad BK (SHL), Eliasson has been loaned to EC Salzburg of the ICEHL where he has played just one game this season. This is obviously not ideal for a 20-year-old goaltender, but this season has been far from ideal for most prospects. The hope is Eliasson eventually gets some action this season and then is able to compete for a job with the SHL club in 2021-22.
Eliasson is another Red Wings’ tender who plays with a calmness in goal. There’s not a lot of wasted movement in his game as he is very technical and plays with structure. Red Wings’ goaltending development coach, Brian Mahoney-Wilson, tabbed Eliasson’s body control and lateral movement as areas he has seen improvement in.
Like Larsson, Eliasson makes good reads due to his hockey IQ and uses his size well in the net. He will continue to work on his rebound control and reaction time on secondary chances as he hones is game across the pond.
Victor Brattström, 23 (2018 – 6th Round, 160th Overall)
Standing 6’5″ and weighing in at 195 lbs, Brattström is another tall, lanky Red Wings goaltender prospect.
Now 23, Brattström was drafted at 21-years-old and went unranked by central scouting in 2018. Seen as a potential post-draft free agent target by some teams, the Wings decided to nab him in the 6th round and take no chances.
Brattström had spent the previous season in a backup role for Timrå IK as they earned a promotion from Allsvenskan to the SHL. The Swede started 15 games and posted a 1.93 GAA and .919 SV% for Timrå.
After being selected by the Red Wings, Brattström made his SHL debut for the same Timrå IK team. In 23 games, he had a 2.81 GAA and .898 SV%; respectable numbers considering Timrå was by far the worst team in the SHL that season — and was then relegated back to the Allsvenskan the following season.
In 2019-20, Brattström posted a stronger 2.13 GAA and .914 SV% in Sweden’s second-tier Allsvenskan.
After four seasons in the Timrå IK organization, Brattström has been loaned to KooKoo of the Finnish Liiga this season. In 8 games thus far, he’s posted a 2.00 GAA and .915 SV%.
Brattström is known to be a very competitive player but will have to continue to work on his positioning and body control moving forward. He signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Red Wings last spring, so the hope is he can push for an AHL job in the near future.
Carter Gylander, 19 (2019 – 7th Round, 191st Overall)
Gylander was the Red Wings’ final pick in 2019 and was one of the younger players taken in the draft last year.
This is worth noting as Gylander put together an excellent draft-plus-1 season, winning the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey league) Goaltender of the Year award with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. How much higher would he have gone had he instead been eligible for the 2020 draft?
Gylander stands 6’5″ and weighs in at 185 lbs — and with all of these similarly built goalies, you have to wonder if the Wings could have them all on a one-size-fits-all strength and conditioning and meal plan.
The Beaumont, AB native played just 22 games in his draft year but posted three shutouts, a 2.43 GAA, and .915 SV% for Sherwood Park. After doing their homework on Gylander, The Red Wings came away very impressed and were willing to take a flyer on him with the 191st pick.
Last season, Gylander lowered his GAA to a stingy 2.07 and upped his SV% to .924. As mentioned above, this was enough to earn the AJHL’s Goaltender of the Year award. While an impressive accomplishment for Gylander, it is important to temper expectations. He wasn’t playing in the strongest league, and will have much to prove in 2020-21 and beyond.
Gylander has been praised for his maturity, both on the ice and off. In limited viewings of the young netminder, he looks to be very quiet in the net and has good lateral movement. He also appears to have a solid, technical game but also has some athleticism.
Gylander will lace up for Colgate University in 2020-21 and will be among the more interesting dark horse prospects to keep an eye on in the Red Wings’ system.
Jan Bednar, 18 (2020 – 4th Round, 107th Overall)
Bednar is the most recent addition to the Red Wings’ goaltending pipeline. Taken with the 107th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Bednar has had a strong track record of success.
He was the 2018-19 Czech Extraliga rookie of the year after posting a 2.73 GAA and 9.17 SV% as a 16-year-old for HC Energie Karlovy Vary. He’s also represented the Czech Republic on the international stage on his country’s U17, U18, and U19 teams.
While he wasn’t as impressive for Karlovy Vary during his draft year (4.39 GAA, .884 SV%), Bednar did play the entire season at just 17 years old and just turned 18 in August. He spent most of last season loaned to HC Banik Sokolov (Czech2) and ended the year with a 3.26 GAA and .873 SV%.
Bednar is yet another goalie who plays a calm game in the net. He’s big — 6’4″, 196 lbs — quick, and very athletic. This athleticism can save Bednar if he cheats and over-commits, but it’s not something he relies upon to be successful. Bednar moves around his crease well and shows a good lateral push cross-crease. He loves to challenge shooters and has the reflexes to make adjustments when needed.
Like most big goalies, Bednar will need to work on explosiveness in the net. He’ll also look to improve on his rebound control, but again, this is something all young netminders need to spend time refining.
Bednar was set to debut with Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL this season after being selected 2nd overall in the CHL import draft, but COVID-19 has delayed those plans. The team has yet to announce when Bednar will be reporting, but it may be at the conclusion of the World Juniors in January.
Young goaltenders are incredibly difficult to evaluate. If they weren’t, you’d see fewer taken in rounds 4 – 7 in the draft and more in rounds 2-3.
The reality is that goalies take many different paths to the NHL. Their development is non-linear. There will inevitably be bumps in the road for even the most highly-regarded netminders, and this crop of Red Wings prospects will be no different.
Most, if not all 6 of these goalies will fizzle out and never suit up for the Red Wings. The hope is that with one of the Red Wings’ mid to late-round picks they can hit on a goalie they see some potential in.
At the end of the day, it will be up to Phil Osaer and the Red Wings goaltending scouting and development staff to identify guys with skill, work ethic, and a willingness to learn. Guys they believe can be molded into NHL-calibre goaltenders.
There is a reason goalies are taken in the mid-late rounds. Teams have to weigh the draft slot to NHL upside balance when selecting a goalie. They’re complete wild cards. Historically, even those drafted in the first round have been far from a guarantee to live up to their draft position.
Ultimately, the position of goaltender is not an organizational strength for the Red Wings. Depending on how some of these goalies develop, that could change, but in 2020 all the Wings have is strength in numbers.
Featured Image: nhl.com