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Mackenzie Blackwood is the top ranked North American goalie, and number two goalie overall on my draft board. He started the 2013-14 season as the number three on Barrie’s depth chart, but an excellent start to his rookie season saw him take over as the starter for the Colts part way through last year, before even hitting his 17th birthday. While an ankle injury slowed him down early this year, and he probably came back a little too soon as he struggled in October and November. However once he was healthy, he showed why he was the number one goalie for the Colts and a very good second half saw him finish the year with a .906 save percentage for the regular season. He continued his strong second half play, putting up a .922 save percentage in the playoffs. For someone who didn’t start playing goal until the age of 12, he’s put together an impressive OHL resume, and risen up the goalie rankings this season.
Goalie — shoots Left — Catches Left
Born Dec 9 1996 — Thunder Bay, ONT
Height 6.04 — Weight 215 [193 cm/98 kg]
Already at 6’4″ tall, MacKenzie Blackwood has the ideal size that teams look for in goaltenders now. He uses that size effectively and comes out to challenge shooters and take away the amount of net they have to look at. He skates extremely well and can back up quickly to close down the net on dekes. Blackwood is almost always square to the shooter, even on cross ice passes as he gets across very quickly due to a strong leg push. He stays in control and avoids oversliding. Blackwood plays a strong butterfly technique with strong legs that take away the bottom of the net, and an excellent glove hand. While he has very good rebound control for a goalie his age, it still continue to be improved still. He does a very good job of recovering quickly and getting square to the puck when he does give up a rebound though.
MacKenzie Blackwood also is a very good stickhandler and passer, not being afraid to leave his crease to play the puck. He takes advantage if he sees the opponent make a bad line change, and can make a long pass to his forwards. Blackwood’s puckhandling makes him like a third defenceman back there for his team. He is a natural leader, with a cool and calm demeanor, and he does not get frustrated after giving up a goal, getting back to strong play quickly.
There are still some raw spots in Mackenzie Blackwood’s game that could be refined by a good goalie coach, such as being tighter with his arms and his body when he goes down in the butterfly. He also could work on reading the play when the puck behind the net. However these are minor issues, and they should be able to be fixed by a good goalie coach. For a goaltender who only started playing the position due to an injury to a teammate six years ago, his technique is actually more polished than I would expect. These are some relatively minor issues overall.
Mackenzie Blackwood is a bit of a project and is likely at least three to four years away from seeing the net in NHL action. Still his ceiling is very high, and he could be a number one goalie in the NHL. His technique and demeanor remind me of Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, though this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on talent.
Below are some highlight videos featuring MacKenzie Blackwood in action.
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