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Top 25 Under 25: The Case For The Goalies

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What can Ian Scott and Joseph Woll do to get back up the rankings next year?

Marlies April 15
TORONTO , ON- APRIL 15 - Marlies April 15 Toronto Marlies goalie Ian Scott makes the save off the shot of Ville Pokka of theBelleville Senators in the second at the Ricoh Centre on Sunday. April 15, 2018.
Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Both Joseph Woll and Ian Scott were left outside the Top 25 Under 25 after our voting last week. Under our new system of voting, the two prospects ended up 26th and 27th, respectively. Under our old system, Woll would have been 23rd and Scott still would sit in 27th. You can read about our change in voting system in the link below. This is the first time we’re making a significant change in the 10 years of the T25U25, though on the whole, the changes in the results aren’t massively different.

Votes - Woll and Scott

Player Ian Scott Joseph Woll
Player Ian Scott Joseph Woll
2020 Rank 26 26
katya
seldo 20 22
species 25
arvind
fulemin 25
hardev 25 24
brigstew 25
taaeeve 25
omar 25
annie 23
kevin 23 25
rahef 20 21
Average Tabulated Rank 24.50 24.5
Lowest Rank 25 25
Highest Rank 17 21
Spread in Rank 8 4
Total Votes 7 8

Why So Low?

Despite general consensus that this year’s T25U25 class is one of the weakest we’ve seen beyond the top-10 (or less), you would think two generally promising goalie prospects would be in the mix and have a seat in the top group. I have both on my ballot so obviously I thought so.

Ian Scott

Unfortunately, Scott missed the entire season after hip surgery and we never got to see his first pro season in the Leafs organization. He likely would’ve started in the ECHL with the Growlers and could’ve had a great season behind the well-built team on The Rock. He might’ve even seen some AHL with Kasimir Kaskisuo and Michael Hutchinson bouncing around between the AHL and NHL.

Even for the most lucky and determined among us, we haven’t seen Scott play hockey more than a handful of times. Maybe we caught a WHL game on Sportsnet or a tournament he’s played in, or his brilliant AHL debut with the Marlies a few seasons ago, but it’s not nearly a large enough sample to glean anything from it. So therefore our mental image of who Scott is as a goalie is very blurry, and as a result, players whom we have a better idea of got placed above the 21-year-old. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a clearer picture once the summer of 2021 rolls around, if the universe wants to give us that sort of thing.

Joseph Woll

Broadly speaking, Woll had a bad first season with the Toronto Marlies. He had a .880 save percentage in 32 games, while his counterpart Kaskisuo finished the season with an AHL career average .909 save percentage in 27 games. Being about 30 points behind your goalie partner isn’t a great look and Woll’s stock has naturally taken a hit as a result.

As the Leafs are nearing the end of Frederik Andersen’s five-year contract, and the backup goalie situation only being solved near the tail end of the 2019-20 season with Jack Campbell, it would’ve been really nice to have an internal candidate like Woll looking ready for more responsibility, I feel like it would’ve given him a massive boost in this ranking. But unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

The Case for Scott

Scott is coming off a great age-19 season with the WHL Prince Albert Raiders. Sure, it was over a year ago, but it’s the best data we have. Hockey is a cruel game, and hockey analysis can be even crueler. Last summer we ranked Scott 17th in the Top 25 Under 25 after a great final season in junior. Technically, nothing’s changed from last year to this year, and yet he’s been passed on the ranking by everyone behind him that’s still in the organization and some more who were unranked last year. That seems quite harsh for a player who is still young, especially by goalie prospect standards.

Goalie Timelines

Let’s go into that thinking a bit. I want to know when young goalies get into the NHL and how.

The most recent draft class with a goalie that played in the NHL last year was the 2017 class, Scott’s year. Cayden Primeau and Michael Dipietro are the same age as Scott and played a combined three games for Montreal and Vancouver, respectively. Not very meaningful, especially for teams that had goaltending issues all season. Both had .908 save percentages in 33 and 36 games in the AHL, which is quite respectable. For comparison, Kasimir Kaskisuo was the starter for the Marlies and had a .909. They will be a good measuring stick for Scott next year and a worrying factor for Woll, who had a .880 with the Marlies.

Going back a year further, Carter Hart is one of two goalies from the 2016 class to have played in the NHL last season, Adam Werner in Colorado is the other. Hart has been a huge success for Philadelphia after being thrown in the deep end after having barely played any time in the AHL after junior. Werner also put up a .909 in the AHL before getting the call to be an injury replacement by the Avalanche, so similar to Primeau and Dipietro.

The 2015 class had four goalies who played in the NHL last season. MacKenzie Blackwood, Adin Hill, Ilya Samsonov, and Samuel Montembeault. Neither of Blackwood or Montembeault had decent AHL numbers before getting NHL games, and if you look at the goalie depth charts ahead of them at the times of their assignments, you can understand why they got calls. Blackwood has done admirably for the Devils and might be able to stick it out there, but Montembeault struggled heavily and was sent back to Springfield.

Samsonov did his development in the KHL and leveraged his time there to stay out of the AHL and get in as the backup in Washington. He was a first-round pick and the Capitals are probably going to push him into more games, especially considering how much Braden Holtby struggled last year. Adin Hill might be the closest comparable to Scott or Woll in terms of path to the NHL because he needed a few years in the AHL after junior to really develop and thrive. At 23, he posted a .918 in 13 games for the Coyotes after a couple seasons in spot duty as the number three.

Long story short, time is coming up on Scott and Woll to make some moves to the NHL, so I can see why their stocks have dropped on this list. There is a bit of a trend to get goalie prospects in the NHL earlier, especially if there is an opportunity for them. Scott and Woll can do themselves a lot of good with strong seasons next year. Pressure is on for both to perform because both have essentially lost a year of good results.

What Happened to Joseph Woll?

I want to get into Woll’s season more because I think there’s more to him than just being bad in the AHL as a rookie. His .880 save percentage is bad by a lot of standards, including being dead last among the 14 rookie goalies in the AHL last season. There have been 33 rookie goalies (who played a meaningful number of minutes) in the AHL over the past three seasons. Woll’s performance last year is behind all but one of them.

“Just how quickly things can change and dealing with adversity,” Woll elaborates. “That’s the first time in my career I’ve dealt with something in that regard, I would say. So just a lot of learning how to bounce back from bad games and then also not let your good games affect you too much, to where you stay even-keeled.” - Sportsnet

But I do see reasons to be hopeful for Woll. For one, the team he was on last year, the Toronto Marlies, did him no favours. They were the worst team (that was trying to be good) that I’ve seen in some time in Toronto. Offensively, they were dysfunctional and poorly motivated. On defense, the five-man group spent more time reaching for pucks than fighting for possession. I knew the team was going to take a step back after losing a lot of the Calder Cup team over the last two years, but the lack of effort was disturbing more than anything.

To put it plainly, I don’t think Woll was given a fair shake on or off the ice. The Marlies played in 22 games where they had played the night before, so the team in front of the goalie was tired to some degree. Woll started 16 of those games, while Kaskisuo got only six. On those back-to-backs, the Marlies had a 45.2% shot share with Woll in net. He turned those numbers into a 52% goals share. Kaskisuo’s goals share was better than Woll’s in this situation, but a large portion came from an elevated on-ice shooting percentage from the Marlies late in games he was in. The sample size is also less than half as big.

When the Marlies were rested, Woll actually had worse numbers than when the Marlies were tired in front of him. In my data comparing him to Kaskisuo, I noticed that when the Marlies were rested versus tired, the number of scoring chances per shot increased by 8% for Woll compared to no discernable change for Kaskisuo. Both offensively and defensively, the Marlies were getting more chances and giving them up in equal order.

This tells me that when the Marlies are tired, they’re mentally focusing on the defensive game more and foregoing offense. And when they’re rested, it’s a track race at both ends. Obviously for Woll, facing more scoring chances per shot is going to hurt him more compared to his goaltending partner.

Kaskisuo vs. Woll

Situation Kaskisuo (All Games) Woll (All Games) Kaskisuo (Rested) Woll (Rested) Kaskisuo (Tired) Woll (Tired)
Situation Kaskisuo (All Games) Woll (All Games) Kaskisuo (Rested) Woll (Rested) Kaskisuo (Tired) Woll (Tired)
Starts 24 31 18 15 6 16
TOI 1530.3 1745.6 1101.5 851.9 428.8 893.7
Goalie Save% 0.909 0.880 0.906 0.860 0.913 0.899
Team Shooting% 12.30% 11.50% 11.10% 9.30% 16.20% 13.80%
on-ice SF% 47.80% 48.20% 48.50% 51.50% 45.50% 45.20%
on-ice ScF% 46.90% 48.30% 47.90% 51.70% 43.70% 44.40%
on-ice GF% 55.00% 47.30% 52.60% 41.40% 60.90% 52.80%
Scoring Chances per Shot For 57.60% 59.00% 57.40% 63.10% 58.00% 55.60%
Scoring Chances per Shot Against 55.50% 59.10% 56.10% 63.90% 53.80% 53.90%
Data by Hardev Lad

I find it really hard to take Woll’s .880 save percentage seriously after watching him on this team all year and looking at the data that explains his results. I don’t think the team was fully behind him when the going was tough, they gave Kaskisuo a lot of minutes and asked him to steal a lot of games he simply wasn’t capable of doing. I don’t think the team played well in front of him (which can be seen in the data). And for Woll, who is an amazingly positive person, being stuck around so much mediocrity feels like more of a learning experience to me than a report card on his play.

In terms of his play on the ice, I’ve quite liked Woll as a goaltender. He’s calm in his net, very positionally sound. I think he suffered from the increased level of shooting in the AHL. He’s got a big frame and can move well. Getting quicker is probably something he’ll want to do. His ability to move while down on his knees is quite good, it’s his upper half that needs to catch up.

Personally watching the Marlies, I’m scarred by Garret Sparks and his constant ability to find himself outside the net looking backwards. He did it multiple times a game and it made me lose my mind, even when he got lucky, which was most of the time. I don’t see anything like that out of Woll, though maybe my standard for Big Mistakes isn’t at the right level. I want to see more out of him, especially compared to Scott. I still believe there’s an NHL goaltender in there.

Poll

Would you give the goalies a top-25 ranking this year?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    I ranked Scott
    (27 votes)
  • 21%
    I ranked Woll
    (52 votes)
  • 47%
    I ranked both
    (114 votes)
  • 19%
    I ranked neither
    (47 votes)
240 votes total Vote Now