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Goaltender Profiles
In depth look at the prospects
6/19/04 - By James Weise -

1) Marek Schwarz – G – Catches: R – 6’ 180 lbs – Sparta Praha
2) Al Montoya – G – Catches: L – 6’2” 178 – Michigan
3) Devan Dubnyk – G – Catches: L – 6’6” 194 lbs – Kamloops
4) David Shantz – G – Catches: L – 6’1” 202 lbs – Mississauga
5) Cory Schneider – G – Catches: L – 6’2” 195 lbs – Andover Academy (2005 – Boston College)
6) Magnus Akerlund – G – Catches: R – 6’1” 183 lbs – HV-71
7) Jason Churchill – G – Catches: L – 6’3.5” 184 lbs – Halifax
8) Justin Peters – G – Catches: L – 6’1” 209 lbs – Toronto St. Mike’s
9) Jeff Glass – G – Catches: L – 6’2” 185 lbs – Kootenay
10) Michal Valent – G – Catches: L – 6’2” 167 lbs – MHC Martin

One of the strengths of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft could be the depth and quality of the goalies that are available. At the top of our list is Marek Schwarz. The athletic Czech has drawn comparison to the greatest Czech goalie ever Dominik Hasek. Schwarz says that he never had any idols and that he tries to take pieces from everyone’s game. One thing that Schwarz seems to have in common with Hasek is a competitive drive. Schwarz isn’t the biggest goalie in the draft at 6’ 180 lbs, but he is one of the most athletic and quick goalies in the draft. Plus, Schwarz has had solid showings on numerous international stages as he has played for the Czech Republic at the U-18 WCs in 2003 and 2004 (He was named the top goaltender at the 2004 tournament) as well as at this year’s U-20 WCs. Schwarz will certainly go early in the 1st round and should be in a battle to be the 1st goalie selected.

Al Montoya broke onto the scene this year almost by accident. Montoya was solid as the #1 goalie at the University of Michigan in 2002-03. But, it was what Montoya did at this year’s U-20 WCs that had people stand up and take notice of the young American goalie. Montoya not only led the US to the gold medal, but he was also named the tournament’s top goaltender. But it almost didn’t happen. Montoya only go the starting job for the US squad after Maine goaltender, and Detroit draftee, Jim Howard went down with an injury, just weeks before the tournament started. But, Montoya seized the opportunity and could be the first goaltender taken on draft day.

Devan Dubnyk is one large goaltender. At 6’6 194 lbs, Dubnyk has little trouble filling up the net and giving shooters little to look at. Dubnyk is a smart kid (he was named the CHL’s scholastic player of the year) who has worked hard with former NHL goalie Kirk McLean to improve his game. He also had a solid showing at the U-18 WCs as he was Canada’s #1 guy in net. Dubnyk may not be as polished right now as Schwarz or Montoya, but it’s a safe bet that some team will take the big Blazer in the mid to late 1st round.

David Shantz helped his draft stock by backstopping the Mississauga Ice Dogs to the OHL Finals this season. And that was the second year in a row that Shantz had taken his team deep into the playoffs. In 02-03 it was Shantz that led his Jr B team to the provincial finals. Shantz needs to improve his technical game, but the word is that he’s coachable and hard working, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Shantz is a player that has a chance to sneak into the late 1st round or slide to the early 2nd. But with the way goaltenders have become so vital to success in the NHL, I’d guess that some team will take Shantz in the 1st round this year.

Cory Schneider is a guy with a high skill level, but will take some time to get to the NHL. The Philips Andover Academy goalie had his coming out party at the U-18 WCs when he had a solid showing for the US squad. Many wondered if the numbers he put up at Philips Andover were merely because he was playing against an inferior level of competition. But, Schneider’s performance for the US squad put some of those questions to rest. One thing that will lengthen Schneider’s develop time is the fact that he’ll still be playing prep school hockey next season. Schneider is headed to Boston College. But rather than back up BC goalie, and Bruins draftee, Matti Kaltiainen next season, Schneider is waiting to enroll at BC until 2005. Schneider could be a late 1st round pick to a team that can afford to wait on him. Or, he could fall to the 2nd round as well.

Magnus Akerlund is regarded by most as the 2nd best European goalie prospect in this year’s draft. Some see him as a sleeper because he had an unspectacular season and the Swedish team had a poor showing at the U-18 WCs. But, some people like the way Akerlund battled when his team was outmatched and he was seeing a lot of rubber. Akerlund got a solid frame and athletic ability. The big question is whether he’ll work hard enough at refining his technical play to be a top notch NHL goalie. He’s projected as a 3rd round pick on my board.

Jason Churchill of the Halifax Mooseheads is a big goalie (6’3.5” 184 lbs) has some tools, but is still a project. Although, he is the best goalie prospect coming out of Quebec this year. So that should count for something, right? Jason got a 3rd round grade on my board. But, it wouldn’t be too surprising if he slipped to the 2nd day of the draft because he is so raw and needs to develop a lot more. But he certainly looks to be a worthy project for a team that is set in goal for now, but could use a developmental guy in the pipeline.

Justin Peters of Toronto’s St Mike’s Majors is a little bit more refined. He had a highly productive season in the OHL and may be one of the better puckhandling goalies in the draft. One thing is for certain, he is one of the best snipers in this goalie class after scoring an empty net goal in the OHL playoffs this year. Due to the depth of the goalie prospects this year, Peters is another guy that could be a 3rd to 4th round pick. Although, he may be one of the more mature goalies in this year’s draft class.

Jeff Glass of the Kootenay Ice is another big goalie in this year’s draft class. The biggest knock of Glass’ game is his mediocre glove hand. He is solid positionally, is patient, and like to challenge shooters. Glass is a guy that will likely fall to day 2 of the draft as most think his upside is only to be a back up in the NHL.

A sleeper in this year’s goalie class could be Slovak goalie Michal Valent. He played well for the Slovaks at the U-18 WCs despite his team being outgunned on most nights. Valent is a battler that is able to keep his team in games. Valent could be a guy that falls on draft day due to underexposure, but could develop into a solid NHL goalie over the long haul. Valent has a 4th round grade on my board. And it could turn out to be a 4th round pick that is well spent by some team.

Best of the rest:
One goalie where there is a split of opinion about is Notre Dame’s David Brown. Last year, Red Line Report was touting him for the draft and he went unselected. Red Line is once again high on Brown, whereas most everyone else isn’t on board. I’d be surprised if he went unselected again, but I doubt it will be on day 1 of the draft. Dan Lacosta could be a sleeper. The Owen Sound goalie had a solid regular season, but was replaced with veteran Robert Gherson for the playoffs and that could hurt his draft stock. And Phillipe Roberge is a small butterfly goalie out of the Q that is fun to watch play.

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