The Ottawa Senators have a number of future goaltending options. Four draft picks have been used on the position since 2015, as well as players acquired through trade and signings. Some are closer to reaching their potential than others. They all have promise. If you are a fan of the Senators or following them for fantasy purposes, it’s worth looking at this deep group.
Ranking the Candidates to be the Ottawa Senators Goalie of the Future
Doubt and Promise
Ottawa’s goaltending depth has many names, with different styles, from different countries. One thing that unites them all: every one of them seemingly have the potential to start, and none seem guaranteed to last a season in the NHL. There is a lot of talent in their system, but these are the top-five most likely “goalie of the future” for the Ottawa Senators.
5. Kevin Mandolese
This was a year to remember for Kevin Mandeolese (for more than just Covid and general world affairs.) He earned a contract the hard way, putting up stellar numbers and developing solidly in the QMJHL. A .925 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average this season mean he is ready for the next step.
The “Q” is known for over-the-top scoring stats. Not goaltending numbers. But in that environment, he had a great year, earning his entry level contract this April. He is slated to start next year in the ECHL which means there is a long road ahead. A lot to be excited about, but hard to bet on. There is no timeline for when he may begin his pro career, which places him at a disadvantage. When hockey returns, he is a prospect worth keeping an eye on.
4. Joey Daccord
Pierre Dorion has to be pleased with Joey Daccord. The 23 year old fought his way up the ranks of the ECHL and AHL this season, ultimately becoming the Belleville Senators go-to. He took major steps forward in only his first year as a professional. Taking a non-traditional route, he was picked out of high school in 2015 before making his way to Arizona State University. That’s pretty far from the eyes of most Sens fans, but it provided a stable environment for his development.
Daccord’s path away from the spotlight was a wise choice. NCAA hockey isn’t as followed as NCAA football in Canada, meaning he has had essentially no hype. Sens fans should be happy with the results, though. He put up impressive stats. A record setting seven shutouts led to him becoming the first ASU grad to get to the NHL. He’s poised to compete for the starting role next AHL season.
3. Filip Gustavsson
The abrupt end of this season was cruel for Filip Gustavsson. A lot of people have been ready to give up on the big Swede. He came into the organization through what felt like a big trade, giving up a once-productive centre in Derrick Brassard, which seemed like a hefty price. Times have changed and Gustavsson’s emergence has been slow, but it seems to be working out.
Despite being the target, his numbers were slow to justify the trade. While many were beginning to look past him, this year was different. January 2020 saw him put up his first shutout, a .942 save percentage, and 1.78 goals against average. It was enough to win the CCM/AHL Goalie of the Month Award, and build hope for him experiencing a long playoff run. If he returns to that standard of play, he could easily take the place of the next two goalies on this list.
2. Anders Nilsson
Anders Nilsson is set to start for the Senators next year. Barring any sort of ill advised attempt to bring in someone like Robin Lehner, he’s the first goalie up. Taking a long road as a prospect through several organizations, Mr. Nilsson has bounced around the league. Now 30, the 6’6″ vending machine of a man has a huge opportunity, just like last year. A prospect of that age is less exciting, but Nilsson’s talents and work ethic have kept him as a prospect for a reason. Unfortunately a major head injury forced him to miss significant time this season. When next year rolls around that shouldn’t be an issue.
For the first time in his career, he’s primed to be handed a starting role. The issue with that is that he’s simply being handed the role. He played well last year, but hasn’t been able to cement his place. At 30 years old, he either takes over the goalie of the future label by earning it in the present – or we will watch him move onto another team. Next step is keeping his zen-like presence with an actual NHL hockey team trying to win games. He will start the year as the primary option, though it may morph into a 1A/1B tandem.
1. Marcus Hogberg
The Ottawa Senators goalie of the future is most likely Marcus Hogberg. At 6’5″ he’s actually the smaller of the Senators projected 2020-2021 tandem. It says a lot about what goaltending has become, as big men have pushed out their smaller brethren. Big size has not brought big hype. Few had any expectations for Hogberg last year. Starting the year with the Belleville Senators, he did not have the chance to play with a strong team. Having any expectations for success were perhaps unfair.
This year he surprised and entertained. 2019-2020 being what it was, Hogberg got into a number of games. The 25 year old showed determination while being bombarded. Avoid the stats though. The teams in front of him offered little support, especially in the NHL as the Sens were incredibly bad. That hurts his individual numbers, and also provides some context. A goals-against-average over three at both levels isn’t inspiring, but the team matters. Fans that watched him play regularly noticed that he gained a significant amount of confidence. He seemed to grow into the net, and made some simply jaw-dropping saves. It was his effort and dedication on the play that really caught the eye. He showed a determination recalling Tim Thomas, without Thomas’ personality. Never giving up provides some entertaining saves. Age, effort, and solid technical skills mean he is Ottawa’s most likely goalie of the future.
Watch this Group
This group is worth investing in. Talent wise, there is not a lot to separate the goalies individually. Current status, age, and history provide the base for evaluation. There is a lot of work to be done in Ottawa’s system and all the prospects are boom or bust types. Even the current starters provide a significant amount of doubt.
Whether a fan or fantasy owner, keeping on an eye on this group will be worthwhile. The Senators are a team on the rise. They have a lot of strong prospects, and being led by Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk provides a foundation for winning. They will soon be winning hockey games when you add in this year’s draft haul. When the time comes, the Ottawa Senators Goalie of the Future will be in great position to win a lot of games.