Photo via Claus Andersen
There’s been plenty of talk of the Flyers looking to add a goalie at the draft. The odds state goalies are the largest dice roll in the draft, so instead of burning an early pick on a goalie, the Flyers would be best off waiting until round 6 or 7 and going with an off the board goalie for their last pick. Ken Appleby is one to target.
Appleby posted a .923 SV% in the OHL over the past two seasons. He also led the Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup.
With goaltenders, there’s a major variance in talent across leagues, many goalies burn out, some become superstars. There’s no advantage to picking a goalie early. For every Tuukka Rask or Carey Price who’s picked in Round 1, there’s a Pekka Rinne or Henrik Lundqvist who falls to the later rounds. Undrafted goalies like Andrew Hammond and Cam Talbot played major roles on successful teams this past season. So, why waste a pick or move up to take a goalie early when a team can drop a 7th rounder on a goalie and push him right to the AHL.
Given that goalies are volatile, the only way to weight the odds slightly in your favor is to bet on high save percentages and hope for the best. Appleby’s OHL numbers are fairly solid, so getting him onto an ELC and sending him to split time between ECHL Reading and AHL Lehigh Valley is a good start. At worst, he’s a minor league depth goalie, at best, he plays himself into the goalie of future and takes the reigns from Steve Mason in a few years.
It’s less risky to take an unknown goalie late in the draft over risking a high pick when it’s much easier to project out whether or not you have an NHL player.