We’re now onto day three of the Top 100 countdown, and things are only going to ramp up through the rest of the week. Today we’ll see our first couple of goaltenders on this list, though we’ve farmed out the report to a goaltending expert on one of them. Canucks fans might want to start making mental notes of goaltenders available in the middle rounds, as it’s a wise choice to grab one every couple of years to keep the pipeline stocked.
Without any further delay, let’s get into today’s list.
#90: Olle Eriksson Ek (G – SuperElit)
By Ryan Biech
- Age: 17 – June 22nd, 1999
- Birthplace: Karlstad, SWE
- Frame: 6’2″ / 187 lbs
The younger brother of Minnesota Wild prospect Joel Eriksson Ek, Olle enters the draft as the second ranked European goalie by CSS. He had a strong showing at the Ivan Hlinka tournament to start the year and followed that up with some impressive numbers in the SuperElit J20 for Farjestad.
Measuring in at 6’2” and 190 lbs, Eriksson Ek is right within the ‘normal’ goaltender sizes these days. He doesn’t have any particular skill that stands out but has good technique and uses his frame well to cover the net.
Regularly regarded as the best goalie in Sweden for this draft class, he lost the net to Adam Ahman for the U18 tournament in April. But that shouldn’t take away from what Eriksson Ek can do. He has the size, skills and a long track record that indicate he has a legitimate shot at being an NHL goaltender.
With all goalies, it’s hard to predict where he will get selected, but it’s safe to assume a team will take Eriksson Ek at some point in the 2017 NHL Draft.
#89: Emil Bemstrom (C/RW – SuperElit)
By Jeremy Davis
- Age: 17 – June 1st, 1999
- Birthplace: Nykoping, SWE
- Frame: 5’10” / 181 lbs
Small skilled forwards are in high supply in this year’s draft class, and Swedish forward Emil Bemstrom is another example is just that. Bemstrom spent most of the season in Sweden’s SuperElit league, where he scored 21 goals in 28 goals, while adding 12 assists here and there. He also made a cameo in the SHL, playing in five games without picking up any points. Again, as with other prospects in that position, the fact that he played in that league at all in his draft year is a positive sign.
Bemstrom loves to score goals. His shot is decent, and he can beat goalies from distance (usually with the help of a screen or a change in angles), but he typically scores from in tight. He doesn’t drive the puck to the net (he doesn’t really have the size to do so), but he darts in and out of danger areas, gets his stick on rebounds and quickly deposits them into openings.
Some of his statistical comparables here include Nicklas Backstrom and Frans Nielsen, who scored 0 and 1 points respectively in their draft seasons while playing in the SHL, both in more games than Bemstrom played.
Bemstrom comes from a hockey family: his father and uncle both had long professional careers in Sweden, while his brother and cousin are forging careers of their own now. Emil however, looks like he’ll be the first of the group to get drafted into the NHL.
#88: Michael DiPietro (G – OHL)
By Greg Balloch
- Age: 17 – June 0th, 1999
- Birthplace: Windsor, ON, CAN
- Frame: 6’0″ / 192 lbs
Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires is a potential top goaltending pick in the upcoming 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He drew a lot of attention as a 16-year-old when he appeared in 29 OHL games, while posting a respectable .912 save percentage. He was able to improve that number to .917 in 51 games this season, which has helped his draft stock considerably. You don’t normally see 17-year-olds starting as many games as he has. Including playoffs, he’s appeared in 90 games – which is a very solid sample size to work with.
The biggest knock against DiPietro is not his size, but rather his ability to effectively utilize his 6-foot-1 frame. He reads plays well and is an excellent puck-tracker, but his skating strategy needs to improve by the time he reaches the professional level. Goaltenders that have a similar frame achieve success by beating passes on their feet. DiPietro, on the other hand, has an initial tendency to slide across. The downside of that is not just the fact that he is down in the butterfly early, reducing his size, but it also means that he loses the ability to move laterally back the other way if there is a returning pass. At 6-foot-1, he’ll need to play more aggressively than other larger goaltenders, and the ability to hold his edges is something he is required to master moving forward.
His talent ceiling remains very high. He is lauded by many scouts for his intense focus, and ability to battle through broken plays in front of him. His slightly aggressive style and physical strength/flexibility means that he gets the ‘athletic’ tag slapped on him quite often.
Overall, DiPietro is one of the five best goaltending prospects in this year’s draft. He does have a few issues to iron out in his game, but is a very good candidate to become an NHL goaltender if he is able to develop properly.
#87: Mikey Anderson (D – USHL)
By J.D. Burke
- Age: 17 – May 25th, 1999
- Birthplace: Roseville, MN, USA
- Frame: 5’11” / 194 lbs
Mikey Anderson might not tower over his opponents at just 5’11”, but make no mistake about it, he plays a heavy, imposing game on defence. The Waterloo Black Hawks used Anderson as a top pair, shutdown defenceman and never shied away from matching him against the opposition’s best line night in and night out.
On his best nights, you won’t notice Anderson at all. Scouts describe him as a strong positional defender with excellent gap control and a knack for knowing when to apply pressure in the neutral zone. Anderson might not exhibit flash, but he suffocates it from opponents in the defensive zone with savvy positioning and the ability to come out of most fifty-fifty battles with the puck.
It’s the kind of heady, efficient game that almost puts you to sleep and puts a coach at ease. Anderson plays a boring game, and that’s to his credit.
My biggest concern with Anderson is his NHL upside, or rather, the lack thereof. I tend to think his game will translate at the professional level. Anderson’s best quality is probably the way he sees the ice, and that’s the kind of thing that can’t be taught in most cases — you either have it or you don’t. That will take him a long way and probably earn him, at the very least, a cup of coffee in the NHL.
How far Anderson can go from there is anyone’s guess. He’s far from a coke machine, but skating isn’t exactly a strength of his. Anderson isn’t the most creative offensive player either, though I wonder how much of that comes down to coaching — his biggest knock used to be his penchant for forcing plays in the offensive zone that weren’t there. Perhaps Anderson’s had creativity coached out of him?
Playing on the USHL’s highest-scoring team, Anderson notched 34 points in 54 games (five goals and 29 assists). It’s encouraging that Anderson could put up those numbers, but I’d caution against placing too much stock in them. Anderson played a tonne of minutes on the Black Hawks’ blue line. I’m willing to bet if you adjust his point totals to his ice-time, they look far less impressive.
#86: Morgan Geekie (C/RW – WHL)
By J.D. Burke
- Age: 18 – July 20th, 1998
- Birthplace: Strathclair, MB, CAN
- Frame: 6’2″ / 168 lbs
A re-entry into the NHL Entry Draft, Tri-City Americans winger Morgan Geekie has turned heads with an impressive draft-plus-one season and entered the conversation for this year’s draft in the early parts of the second day. Last year, NHL’s Central Scouting Service didn’t have Geekie ranked. Now he’s in their top 50. Go figure.
Geekie always had NHL size, standing at 6’2″. Now he’s starting to flash NHL skill. Part of getting there has been overcoming poor skating. He’s learned to make up for those shortcomings with a lightning quick ability to anticipate plays and get into position to score as they develop. Coaches won’t have any trouble convincing him to play to his frame, either. Geekie spends a large chunk of his time in front of the opposing goalie and has good enough hands to capitalize on the rebounds his screens often lead to.
The growth in Geekie’s game is evident on the score sheet. His point production more than tripled from his last season to this one, playing significant minutes for the Americans in all situations. While it’s worth taking into consideration the fact that Geekie is a draft-plus-one player, you should also note that Geekie was really damn young for his first go at it, so that can help to mitigate those concerns, to some extent anyway.
I don’t see Geekie as having top-six upside at the NHL level, but rather as someone who can one day round out his game as a bottom-six checking line piece. Geekie can play the wing or centre, and scouts rave about his dominance in the circle. He’s a defensively responsible player and that’s definitely going to help his cause.