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Draft Profiles 2k21: Ben Gaudreau reveals the damage done to prospects in 2020.

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For most prospects, 2020 was hard. For Ben Gaudreau, it screwed up his entire draft year.

Analysis:

I know what you’re thinking.

“Sky, the Bruins don’t need a goaltender! They have Swayman! And Vladar! and Keyser! And maybe Tuukka when he’s all rehabbed and good to go!” And for the record, I generally agree with this assessment, but I feel like after rounds one and two, you should always at least try to draft one goaltender as a failsafe. The Bruins are about to go through a series of organizational graduations for their goaltenders if Halak moves on, and it wouldn’t hurt the team to start thinking about the distant future as well as the immediate future, even if it caps out at the AHL.

But I wanted to use Ben Gaudreau specifically as a description of the kind of challenges that faced prospects in 2020, particularly Ontario-based ones like Gaudreau.

Gaudreau is your modern style hybrid goaltender, a big body with some very interesting skills which have scouts very interested in what he brings to the table. While his size is obviously a plus, what has set him apart from a lot of the other prospects at his age is his very tantalizing athleticism in-goal where can make some pretty daring saves at the drop of a hat, and if he can get a bead on that puck, which he’s very good at getting, he can make some commit some highway robbery with that glove of his. And rebound control, increasingly becoming a bigger and bigger concern in the NHL these days, are where Gaudreau really shines, able to swallow up pucks and if they have to bounce away, he’s one of the better goaltenders of the draft in making sure they make it to low-danger parts of the ice. Josh Tessler of Smaht Scouting did some tracking of rebound control throughout the 2021 draft, and while it was limited to a small sample size, it showed some incredible promise for Mr. Gaudreau.

Of course, all that good stuff said; the very biggest knock on Gaudreau was one that wasn’t much of his fault; He didn’t play much at all this year; only five games at the U18 World Juniors. That’s it. Now he ended up winning those five games en route to a gold medal, but that was his entire season. The OHL season never got off the ground, and as a result he missed an entire year’s worth of playing time. He had an opportunity to play in Oslo this year, but his passport expired before he had the opportunity to take it, and as a result all we have from this year is five games from the kiddie World Juniors, and his previous years’ stat totals, which were not stellar, as Sarnia had begun to rebuild and refresh for the upcoming seasons which...well...yeah. That probably got a big rock thrown in the way of that, now didn’t it.

Drafting Gaudreau is a gamble, and not in the way a lot of normal prospects would be, because unlike a lot of dudes who have to be mentally adjusted, there’s simply not enough data available to us to really say if he’s good or not. He’s definitely got the size and puck-tracking skills, but where do you pick a player like that? Late 2nd? Early fourth? Seventh round? It’s tough to say.

For the Bruins, him still being listed as the 2nd best North American goaltender bodes well for anyone who does even after all’s said and done. As a middle-round pick, I don’t think a goaltender would hurt, per se, and would give him plenty of time to try and catch up.

We can only hope he’s ready to put on black and gold for Sarnia and tear it up in order to do that.

Rankings:

  • 2nd by NHL Central Scouting among North American Goaltenders

Statistics

Year Team League Games Played GAA Save-%
Year Team League Games Played GAA Save-%
2017-18 North Bay Trappers Mn Midget AAA GNML 8 3.24 N/A
2018-19 North Bay Trappers Midget AAA GNML 21 1.13 N/A
2019-20 Sarnia Sting OHL 28 4.34 0.89
Canada Black U17 International 4 5.95 0.787
2020-21 Canada U18 International 5 2.2 0.919
EliteProspects.com