DiPietro surprised fans around the OHL when he split starts with Windsor’s veteran his first season for the Spitfires, but he’s transitioned seamlessly into the starting role full-time in the last two years.
His numbers took a slight dip this year, moving from a .917 save percentage in all situations in 2016-17 to a .910 this past season.
He played in an additional five games, though, and recorded one additional shutout – moving from six in his draft-eligible year to seven this past campaign – and then stood tall for a six-game series against the Sarnia in the first round of the postseason before Windsor was ultimately eliminated.
During the playoffs, Windsor allowed a minimum of 31 shots to hit DiPietro per game en route to their first-round exit, allowing 45 or more three times in six games and letting a whopping 50 shots slide through the defense in Game 2.
That wasn’t far off from their regular season antics, where the team allowed just under 32 shots per 60 minutes while DiPietro was on the ice.
He struggled twice through the middle of the season, posting eight games with a sub-.900 save percentage through November and December alone and then putting up five straight sub-.900 starts from January 27th to February 8th.
Still, he hit a .920 save percentage or better in 22 recorded starts, including those seven shutouts, and certainly didn’t have an overly stellar defensive system to work with in front of him. For a prospect – and one that still has plenty of time in the OHL left to play – those are numbers to feel pretty good about.
The easiest criticism to make of DiPietro is his size, but make no mistake: with the right patience and development, a 6-foot stature is in reality no big hurdle to overcome in net. After all, playoff hero Marc-Andre Fleury is just 6-foot-2, regular season statistical leader Antti Raanta is DiPietro’s height on the nose, and even the mercurial, polarizing Jonathan Quick – who spends plenty of time in the world’s widest butterfly – is a mere 6-foot-1 himself.
At times this year, DiPietro looked like he hadn’t quite grown into his game, though, playing out too aggressively to compensate for his size:
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) November 14, 2017
That being said, he makes up for some of his depth inconsistencies with a ton of technical control, which could serve him well as he’s brought to an optimal position in his crease in the coming seasons.
It’s hard to really get a feel for how a goaltender plays when they’re in the major juniors, where shot counts can be horrendously lopsided and wins have almost no correlation to save percentage so long as the offense is firing on all cylinders.
Like his senior in the system, Thatcher Demko, expect DiPietro to need plenty of adjustment time as he moves on to the pro game in the future. He shouldn’t be rushed to the NHL, particularly not if he continues to play out as far as he does on occasion now.
With an excellent skating foundation and some great technical setup, though, the sky really is the limit here. He hasn’t passed up Demko in the team’s future plans, but he’s a great asset to have on board behind the former NCAA netminder when the team hopefully starts to look to contend.
CanucksArmy’s 2018 Midterm Prospect Rankings