Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2014 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2014 Draft Articles Click here.
Today we get our first goaltender in the draft rankings, and its Thatcher Demko. A late-1995 birthday, Demko has already started his college career, enjoying a fine freshman season with the Boston College Eagles where he was the number one goalie who led the team all the way to a frozen four appearance. Unfortunately the Eagles would bow out in the National Semi-Final in a loss to eventual champions the Union Dutchmen. Still the former US National Team Development Program backstop put up a .919 save percentage in his first year of college hockey.
At the international level Demko has a silver medal from the 2013 U18 World Championships, and a silver from the 2012 U17 World Hockey Challenge, representing the USA at both events. The California born Demko is another in the generation of Gretzky/Mighty Ducks/Sharks kids, the young men who grew up in California after “the trade” and NHL expansion really put the game on the map in the south.
Goalie -= Shoots Left – Glove Left
Born Dec 8 1995 — San Diego, CA
Height 6.04 — Weight 182 [193 cm/83 kg]
Thatcher Demko is already 6’4″ meaning that he has ideal size that NHL teams look for in their goalie prospects. This size, combined with his ability to cut down angles well gives shooters very little to look at when they come in on him. Demko skates well, meaning he recovers quickly and stays with shooters if they try to deke. He also has a strong push giving him very good lateral movement and his puck tracking ability is very solid. He understands where the play is going, anticipates well, and gets acros the crease quickly for cross-ice passes and one-timers.
Demko plays a butterfly style and is extremely hard to beat down low due to his long and quick legs. He is so big that even when he does go down he can still take up a lot of the upper portion of the net. He does need some work on his rebound control. He is very good at staying square to the puck, even when does given up rebounds thought, and this usually puts him in good position for those second chance opportunities. He also has a quick glove hand.
Demko handles the puck well, another aspect that many teams like in a modern goaltender. He helps his defencemen by being able to retrieve dump-ins and make smart outlets. On the powerplay he can catch the other team on a line change with a long pass to a forward.
Demko’s style is reminiscent of Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils. This is a style comparison and not a talent one. In terms of potential, he will need time to develop, like almost all young goalies, but Demko is the best goaltender in this draft, and its by a considerable margin too. He has the potential to be a #1 Franchise NHL goalie.
Here are some highlights of Thatcher Demko in action.
Check back tomorrow for my number 32 ranked prospect.
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