A year after going undrafted, the Slovakian goaltender, Adam Gajan, shouldn’t have to wait too long in the 2023 NHL draft. After a wild season where he managed to make a name for himself over in North America, many have him as one of the top goalies of the draft.
This metaphoric rise was especially helped by an outstanding performance at the 2023 World Junior Championship. Gajan was standing on his head and was a key part of the success of Slovakia. With him, Slovakia beat the USA, shut out Latvia, and took Canada to overtime in the quarter-finals. While that game will always be remembered for Connor Bedard’s wonderful game-winner, he was the reason Slovakia had a chance with 53 saves. This performance earned him the goalie of the tournament award and solidified Gajan as a prospect to watch.
Adam Gajan Scouting Report
A standout part of Adam Gajan’s game is the mix between his size and athleticism. For a 6-foot-4 goalie, he is lightning-quick and agile, with the ability to make some spectacular saves. His side-to-side movement is extremely explosive, and he can cover a ton of net in a split second. His skating and movement allow him to never be out of a play. This also brings up his strong mental game, where he never gives up on a play. Regardless of what has happened, he will do everything in his power to make the stop with any part of his body.
Gajan also possesses a brilliant hockey IQ and will read the game at a high level. He showcases a great positioning sense and is able to cut down the angle for the shooter. His fast movements and hockey sense also enable him to reset and reposition himself fast for any change in the play. On top of this Gajan tracks the puck well through traffic and his reflexes are above average.
In terms of his strengths, there is an argument to be made that Gajan is the most athletic and dynamic goalie of the 2023 NHL draft class. He is the goalie who can make that momentum-changing stop that leaves forwards wondering if they will ever score.
However, the athleticism and dynamic nature of Adam Gajan come with a minor catch. His rebound control needs a lot of work, as he often will allow for pucks to end up in the crease or the slot. His puck handling and especially his ability to corral the puck can leave him having to rely on his agility and quickness far more than desired as he has to make an unnecessary second save. He will also rarely play the puck behind his net, which considering his weaker puck control might be a good thing. However, in modern-day hockey, that is a skill that goalies are benefiting from more than previously.
There are also some question marks surrounding the level of competition he faced this season. He went to a lower-level league to get ice time, and as a slight overage goalie, he had to be great. He was exactly that and in the World Juniors, he was fantastic. This form must continue as he moves higher level next season at Minnesota-Duluth.
Comparable and Prediction
Heading into the 2023 NHL draft, Adam Gajan is a name that will be very interesting to follow. Especially since he is the goalie with the highest ceiling in the draft. His size, reflexes, and agility are phenomenal and if he can fix his rebound control and high glove, he could be a star goalie in the future. In a lot of ways, his style is similar to Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Both goalies are extremely talented goalies, who are prone to giving up some awful rebounds at ill-opportune times. While Gajan still has a lot to go before, he reaches the highs of the Russian netminder, he has the tools to make it if given the time to do so.
Main photo by: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports