We’ve reached the final part of my system overview, this project is the result of many years of hard work. Goalkeepers are always difficult to evaluate because they typically take a while to develop. Typically, goaltenders begin entering the NHL when they are 24 or older, while forwards and defensemen typically break into the NHL at ages 21-22. That may not seem like a huge difference, but goaltenders who look average to begin their professional careers can turn into NHL goaltenders. Alex Nedeljkovic may be a backup, but don’t forget that his pro career began struggling in the AHL and was sent down to the ECHL.
You never know what’s going to happen with goaltenders, and more often than not, the goaltenders your favorite team drafts don’t work out. The way the percentages are listed can be a bit misleading, so let me break it down. A goaltender who saves 92% of his shots is considered a rookie at the NHL level. A goaltender who saves 91% is considered a backup. A goaltender who saves 90% of shots at the NHL level may not be a full-time NHL goaltender. The margin of success is much slimmer with goalkeepers, which adds another complication to the equation.
As I mentioned before, goalie predictions tend to be a bit longer. And, with two NHL roster spots available, it’s going to be tough for any goaltender to break into the NHL. These speculations may be reassuring that these goals will be ready to play NHL games. It may not happen when these players become full-time goaltenders, and they may not be with the Hurricanes then.
Kochetkov has solidified himself as the system’s top goaltender this season. He was prolific with Chicago in the AHL after joining the team in early March, then went on an impressive run to end the regular season. Kochekov was 13-1-2 during the regular season and posted an impressive .921 save percentage in those starts. Kochekov had a brief NHL stint with the Hurricanes, and while his numbers weren’t spectacular, he showed flashes of high-level talent. Kochekov went 5-1 to help Chicago capture the Calder Cup Championship.
He is an amazing goaltending prospect. His raw athleticism, speed, strength and puck tracking are all top-notch or elite. Kochekov has the ability to steal games for his team depending on the game and once his rebounding improves, he could be a legitimate number one goaltender for the Hurricanes. He’s also a fiery personality, not afraid to mix it up after the whistle and stand up for his teammates. This kind of thing makes Kochetkov a favorite for sure. The team’s performance this season has reflected their confidence in Kochekov’s abilities. Instead of signing a veteran like Alex Lyon, the team opted to sign Zach Sawchenko. The Hurricanes appear content to let Kochekov be the Wolves’ starter next season, possibly preparing him for an NHL role in late 2023.
So, what makes Kochetkov such a promising goalkeeper? For starters, it’s his explosiveness and athleticism that stand out against the competition. Due to his speed and athleticism, Kochetkov is able to make these impressive saves and many high-danger chances. Kochekov tracks the puck and looks two steps ahead, which means he knows when to pass or shoot before a player passes, allowing for quick reactions and saves. Kochekov usually stays on the square but has the ability to save desperation if he is caught out of position. His style of play can be a bit erratic, simply put, Kochetkov can roll and float but somehow find a way to make the stand. It’s been a constant rollercoaster ride, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have high hopes for Piotr. Okay, enough talk. Let’s look at some of Piotr’s savings.
I like this save because Piotr reads the pass all the way through. He can react to the snap as it happens, then use his agility and strong pressure with his right foot to make seemingly routine saves. There is another save where Kochetkov reads the game and reacts immediately.
This is probably the worst defensive cover I’ve ever seen, but check out this sequence from Kochetkov. One-on-one with the sniper and the tall stand. pic.twitter.com/Q6JdTvzjsY
— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) April 17, 2022
To be honest, I’ve watched this game no less than 20 times and I still don’t know how Wolves forgot the player in the right circle. Still, Kochetkov can make a big save by standing tall. I’ve said before that Kochekov has a knack for desperate saves, and part of that is due to his agility and ability to track the puck. He knows where the puck is going to land after it hits him and throws himself at the puck to make the save. Kochetkov showed little regard for the emotions of the opposition as well as the heartbeats of Hurricanes fans, but oh boy, it’s fun.
These ongoing savings are difficult because of how much traffic there is before the network.
Working on another piece of how good Kochetkov has been this season. First, here’s a clip of how he looks to punch through traffic and challenge shooters. pic.twitter.com/YCzWNJOeHh
— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) April 17, 2022
This next save is pretty boring by Kochetkov’s standards, but it’s still a pretty good save.
Now, there are two aspects of Kochkov’s game that concern me right now. First, Kochetkov can struggle to track shots beyond the circle. I noticed that most of the shots that hit him came from low to medium danger areas and it was very annoying. When Kochekov was hit on the first shot of the game in his first starts, it was the shots that were going through.
Kochekov can occasionally struggle to track mid- to long-range shots. It is something that has been improved since it was designed, but sometimes it leaves something like this. pic.twitter.com/vRGjGVaJqe
— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) March 10, 2022
Secondly, Kochetkov’s rebound control worries me. He doesn’t give up as many salty rebounds as some of the Hurricanes’ goal scorers, but he does give up a lot of rebounds that I’d like to see him dominate.
I believe Kochetkov will be an NHL starter based on what I’ve seen of him. Very few goalkeepers have that skill set and even fewer can use it all together. Kochetkov has a lot of upside and is just getting started as a pro, and if last season is any indication of his future success, Hurricanes fans should be excited. Kochekov is highly underrated by many other prospects, failing to appear on many top prospect lists. Hell, Dylan Garnd, who has yet to play in a single NHL game, was the top goaltender on the list and Kochetkov wasn’t even mentioned in the honor. Kochekov’s age, who turns 24 in June, may have something to do with it, but goalscorers always take time to mature.
There is also something to be said for a goalkeeper who can endear himself to fans and has personality. Goals are always a little strange, and let’s be honest, a little guaranteed. They block rubber bullet discs for a living at 90+ miles per hour. Koshetkov’s personality made him a favorite of many Sugarcane fans, especially after his debut.
yes! Give me that competitive energy! Then, the fact that he beat Brad Marchand during the final two outs of the game was an instant win over Hurricanes fans. Those kinds of things won’t be the reason Kochetkov makes it to the NHL, but it will be part of his game. He is a fiery competitor and a player a team loves to play up front. I expect Kochekov to play in some NHL games this coming season because our goalies are injury prone. However, he is more likely to be a full-time NHL goaltender next season, as both goaltenders are set to expire this season.
Hamerla is a prospect that reminds me a lot of Petr Mrezk at least. Both goalkeepers are incredibly efficient and can make saves that will knock you out of your seat, but there’s a kind of organized chaos to it. Hammerla can get out of position to make the save, and if he gives up the rebound, he has to run back to try and make the next layup. Now, that sort of thing can be worked on, and I believe it’s something that goaltending coaches will understand as Hammerla grows.
Don’t let his numbers from last season fool you either. Hammerla was one of the bright spots in a terrible Rimouski team. Chechnya’s World Juniors team was in camp for the tournament in August but had to withdraw due to illness. I believe he will be one of Chechnya’s goalkeepers next season at the start of Rimouski and when it comes time for the World Junior Championships in December. Hamrla’s upside is still uncertain, but since the Hurricanes hold his signing rights until 2025, there’s still plenty of time. I think Hamerla will return to Chechnya after this season as he will be more ready to play a role at a higher level.
Hamrla’s playmaking gives him the advantage as he can use his big frame and quickness to stop many high-danger chances in contact. He grabs a lot of nets and constantly looses shooters, making it difficult to hit him cleanly. Hamrla had to fend for himself this past season as Rimouski was a fairly weak team in the QMJHL, but when I watched him play, I often came away impressed. He has the ability to make big saves in key moments of the game that help keep the team in it, such as in the QMJHL playoffs.
Patrick Hamerla’s best game of the season, at least in my opinion, was against St. John’s in the QMJHL. The save made it 1-0 in a do-or-die for the team. pic.twitter.com/44M1LJdXqW
— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) July 21, 2022
Hamerla excels in these cross-crease saves, relying on a big push to move from side to side. You might hear Tripp Tracy comment on goaltending explosions on a Hurricanes broadcast, and that’s exactly what Hamerla does. As you can see in the following clip, he immediately burst into action and began saving.
Playing as a middling team in a league that already places little emphasis on defense makes it difficult to evaluate a goaltender’s numbers, so it’s nice to see saves like this. The mechanics are there, and if Hamrla continues to develop as he has, he clearly has enough athleticism to play NHL games.
Hamerla must once again free his team. His numbers this season are deceptive. I thought he played well most nights and was often left out to dry by poor defense. pic.twitter.com/4obK0MKqgI
— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) July 21, 2022
Hammerla will get you out of your seat with just a few of these savings, and it really has the ability to surprise at the next level. This next clip is one of the plays that haunts this poor shooter.
And finally one more game from Hamerla to show his strong movement from post to post.
Hamerla has the potential to play NHL games, and at this point, it’s hard to imagine what his role with the Hurricanes will be in three or four years. He definitely has the athleticism, quickness and hockey sense to play in the NHL, but I’m still undecided on what his upside is. Maybe he really is, Peter Mrazek, who was a strong goalkeeper who could play in 45-50 games in a season. I look forward to seeing what Hammerla can accomplish with Rimouski this year. I don’t think they’ll be much better, at all, so his numbers may be misleading.
After this season, the Hurricanes have two options on what to do with Hammerla. He could turn professional and spend time with Wolves, stay at Rimouski for an extra year, or return to Chechnya to gain experience with the boys before signing with the club. They have until 2025 to sign Hamrla, so if the team decides more playing time in the men’s league is better for Hamrla’s long-term development, that’s what will happen. I don’t expect Hammerla to stay in the QMJHL beyond this upcoming season. It might be enough to see a consistent start in the Czech Elite League, so unless the Hurricanes want him to play for the Vols starting in 2023, I think that’s where he’ll end up.
Vondras is still relatively unknown to me. It’s interesting that he’s right-handed because you don’t see many goalkeepers like that at any level. From what I could see from his game tape as well as his play in development camp, Vondras seems to be in the same mold as Hamrla. His puck tracking is solid and can predict where a play will go on a regular basis. Vondras has strong athleticism, and while he may not be as explosive as Kochetkov or Hamrla, he can occasionally make good saves as he moves from post to post.
I’ve only watched four of Vondras’ games so far, plus his six-minute stint in the preseason with two saves. I’ve only got a few quality clips from these views, so I’ll share what I have. First, a great save sequence from the last game to open the season.
Vondras’ stops here are quality, especially a final save or two. He can go out and take a position to defend what should have been a goal. Now, I’d love to see him challenge the shooter in the first opportunity, especially since he can probably swallow the punch or make the rebound out of harm’s way. Then the rebound went to his teammates and they broke down again.
I’m trying to find at least one or two clips of each of Carolina’s 2022 draft picks, but I don’t have much film for Jakub Vondras. I like this sequence from him though. pic.twitter.com/M8Ka6eXNt8
— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) July 14, 2022
This is all my film on Vondras. He’s not much, but I can clearly see the athleticism and puck tracking ability that made him an NHL draft pick. I’m excited that we’ll have the chance to see him at the Prospect Show next weekend. I thought he’d stay in Europe, but he’s actually making the trip here and hopefully he’ll get ice time in one of Carolina’s 3 games. It’s a Vondras project, and I’m not sure what it looks like right now. There are some tools you can build, but in all likelihood, we won’t know what his ceiling is for a year or two. Once he leaves the Czech U20 league, we’ll have a better idea of where he’ll be.
Quap is in strong competition with Cruz Lucious in the race for the best name in pipeline. His name is top notch and there are some aspects of the cap game that I was a fan of when I watched him play. For starters, Kup has the ability to read where a game is going and react immediately, eventually testing the shooter and taking up a lot of space. He’s a big goaltender who makes stops on the mental side of his game rather than the pure athleticism of his game. I’ve heard the term “cerebral goalie” thrown around, and that’s a category I’d like to put Kuap into.
I was disappointed that Quapp didn’t join the Norfolk Admirals last season as I felt it would be a good opportunity to see more of him. Trying to find his games this past season was pretty tough, but I was able to watch a few and saw some things I really liked. Kuap is definitely a more cerebral goaltender, relying on tracking the puck and predicting when a player will pass, where to pass, or where to go to save a shot. Quapp is calm, cool and collected. He’s never going to be the fastest goaltender or the most athletic, which is why he has to rely on his hockey instincts when faced with a shot attempt. Rebound control and general slumping can be a bit of a problem in cap play, but it’s hard to say how much of his poor start is his fault. Krefeld was a terrible team this past season, and their defense was abysmal on most nights. Quap faced a number of odd man rushes, and while they looked good in a number of areas, their team’s inability to clear the ball often resulted in a goal.
As he struggled in his two starts, the Cup World Junior competition was probably one he wanted to forget. There were good moments in both starts, such as how a brilliant German team pulled off some impressive saves in the first period, but that momentum fizzled out in the second period after Kup stopped a few soft goals.
Quapp is going to be a project and will take a long time to get to the NHL, if he ever gets to that level. He has some tools like his strong hockey sense and good mechanics, but his athleticism isn’t there and his rebounding is poor. I’m interested to see where he plays this year. He is signed with Eisbern Berlin until the end of the 2023-2024 season but looks set to start the season in Germany’s second division. That could bode well for Kapp’s development, especially if he can make consistent starts. Playing 11 games a year isn’t good for a goalie’s development, so if Kuap can start a lot, it doesn’t matter what league he’s in.
Kucharski was selected 197th overall by the Hurricanes in the 2018 draft. At the time, you shrugged your shoulders and said, “Sure, why not?” It was one of the choices available. Because after all, it’s the seventh round and you never know. On paper, Kucharski looks interesting. He was 6’4″ and just over 200 pounds, which means he was taking a lot of net, and was committed to playing college hockey at Providence since the fall of 2019. Then, the following season happened and his USHL. The team did not play him. One start before being sold to Omaha He had, then appeared in just eight games. His numbers in those eight starts were poor, and I began to wonder what the Hurricanes saw in him. Kucharski sat out the next season at Providence before transferring to American International College, where he put up two strong seasons.
In the year When I watched Kucharski in rookie camp in 2019, I noticed that he wasn’t very quick to cover the five hole and left a lot of open space in the bottom half of the net. Now, he’s improved since then, but what I’ve seen doesn’t convince me he’s going to be a goalie. He didn’t take over as a starter for a team playing in a terrible NCAA conference, and the numbers weren’t up to how they expected him to play. Kucharski may be for various reasons, but it is still worth paying attention to.
Now you never talk to the goalkeepers. I’ve been wrong many times before, and somehow I’ll be wrong again. However, Kucharski may not be a professional goaltender, at least not with the Hurricanes I’m sure. He has size and I thought he was solid when I saw him at UMass, but there was nothing that made me think he could be more than a solid college goaltender.
Prediction: Draw an emoji
I will be completely clear with all of you. I have nothing against Namov. It doesn’t help that he didn’t play in a game last year and only played 9 games in his draft year, so there’s not much left here. I’ve been trying to figure out why it didn’t play last year, and so far, I don’t have any information to share with you all. So, unfortunately, I can’t talk much about this player. Namov is not listed on Loko Yaroslavl’s page on Eliteprospects and they do not indicate that he has signed or played for another team. We will have to wait and see who this mysterious prospect is.
Prediction: AHL goaltender
Sawchenko was signed by Carolina in free agency after splitting time between San Jose’s NHL team and its AHL affiliate. He has yet to prove himself as a starting goaltender at the AHL level, which leads me to believe that Chicago’s Kreis is Piotr Kochekov, and that he is the one who will get the lion’s share of the starts. But Savchenko is no cleaner to write home about. His numbers were good at the NHL level, and it’s hard to overestimate his AHL numbers given how bad a team the Barracuda had this past year. In Chicago, Sawchenko is expected to play behind Kochetkov and become his mentor in the process. After all, Sawchenko has NHL experience and can help Piotr reach the next level.
The Hurricanes’ goaltending pipeline is filled with many question marks. Kochetkov looks like the real deal, but this year will be a big year for him as he needs to prove that last year isn’t a blowout. I have every confidence he’ll be an NHL starter one day, but it’s far from a sure thing. I also like Patrick Hamerla’s chances of playing NHL games. I’m still not sure if he’s a starter, 1A/B or a backup, but I like the potential in his game and there’s a lot you can build on. Hamerla has plenty of time left to develop outside of the organization, and the Hurricanes could certainly choose to go that route if they feel it would be best for his development.
Apart from Kochekov and Hamerla, however, there are many question marks. Kuap and Vondras all have tools I like, but both are so early in their development that it’s difficult to project exactly where those two goals fit into Carolina’s future plans. Yegor Naumov is an underrated prospect for a few reasons, and I’m close to closing Jake Kucharsky’s book. Losing Etu McKinney via trade will obviously hurt the Hurricanes’ depth in the pipeline, but when you think about it, it’s clear that Kochetkov will be the guy moving forward, especially after the season.
Carolina has selected a goaltender in every draft since 2014, and that was the 2020 draft. I’d say they succeeded in selecting three goal scorers for next year. I like the strategy of picking at least one goaltender in the draft because you never really know which one will work. You can make predictions based on their draft year, but the potential to make or break a goaltender in the short term is huge. Going forward, I expect Carolina to continue the trend of selecting at least one goaltender in the draft.
That concludes my system overview. You can find the section on the front here and the section on defenses here. I’m very grateful for all the support for this project and I hope it helps you learn more about the prospects and players in the process. Now, I know that the team’s stay is great and we don’t have to look forward, hoping for better days anymore. We can sit and enjoy a great hockey team. The future of the team is still important and it’s always good to know players coming from Chicago or their various teams looking to make the Storm. Guys, I am truly grateful for the support and cannot express my thanks enough. It is truly a great time to be a Carolina Hurricanes fan.