The Vancouver Canucks have dipped into the goaltender market at the NHL Entry Draft selecting Michael DiPietro from the Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires.
- Age: 17 – June 9th, 1999
- Birthplace: Windsor, ON, CAN
- Frame: 6’0″ / 192 lbs
Ranked as the 4th best prospect in amongst North American goaltenders, DiPietro had a stellar season and an even better Memorial Cup performance. He was named the Memorial Cup Most Outstanding goaltender and first team All-Star.
Last week, I had suggested the Canucks target a goaltender in this draft class, so it’s good to see that the Canucks have dipped into this market. In the long term picture, Demko will be graduating to the NHL when DiPietro turns pro. This gives the Canucks a great succession plan for years to come.
DiPietro was ranked 88th by Canucks Army, and the aforementioned Balloch had a great scouting report on him:
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.
We will have a more indepth look at DiPietro season in the coming weeks, but it is a great value pick for the Canucks and addresses their long-term needs.