The Journey: The Now, The Near and The Future of Goalie Prospects

Dave Hall

2020-05-23

It's time to talk goaltenders, more specifically, those that are potential rising stars. We are currently seeing a nice crop of young, promising netminders rising from the depths. Whether it was on a full-time basis or just a few matches, 2019-20 brought us a nice glimpse into the future. The raw talent displayed in goal these days is nothing short of amazing.

For this week's installment of The Journey, I want to go over a few of those who could make an impact on your fantasy team for both now and in the near future. Considering it was a few months ago, which now seems like an eternity now, here is a reminder that Dobber dropped its Spring 2020 Top Goalie Prospects list in March. I will be focusing on only a select few from this list, so make sure you check it out in order to stay up to date on those prospects.

Goalies are a much different beast in regards to predicting their futures. There are so many factors that can change the course of a “superstar in the making", both for the good and for the bad. If you were to ask me, the lack of opportunity sits as the largest obstacle prospects face. While the 1A/1B options seem to be trending lately, there is nothing more confidence shattering than being stuck behind another young, solidified number one. Tampa Bay is the perfect example of this. At this point, with 25-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy sitting in his throne as the clear number one, the opportunity for a young goalie to squeeze in there seems nothing but a pipe dream.

Luckily, not every team is like Tampa Bay, and there are quite a few starting jobs to be had across the league becoming available in the next few seasons. Here are a few goalies that I think will become, or have already taken over that starting job.

The Now

Elvis Merzlikins – Columbus Blue Jackets – November Rank – 2, March Rank – 1

Equipped with a brand new two-year extension, Merzlikins will be gunning for that number one spot heading into his sophomore season. Of course, his counterpart Joonas Korpisalo will not make this an easy task but a little healthy competition never hurt anyone.

The Latvian-born netminder had been sensational over the past six seasons playing for HC Lugano of the Swiss League. As the starting goalie, he took home honors as the goalie of the year on two occasions as well as the league’s top rookie in 2013-14. Yes, his introduction to the NHL was as rocky as they come, but once he found his game in late December, he became the talk of the league. His epic run consisted of a 13-5-4 record which included five shutouts and a 1.97 GAA. His second-half heroics are an excellent sign that he is ready to take on a larger role on a more consistent basis going forward.

As mentioned, it will be an interesting situation next season, and we could even be looking at a 1A/1B. Regar