With the college playoffs starting to get underway, we’re starting to see a few free agents that were eliminated early sign with NHL teams. Many more players will become available in the coming weeks and quite a few will sign fairly quickly.
Here is a closer look at some of the goaltenders that could be of interest to teams in the coming weeks. All of these players are undrafted and unless they’re in their senior season, they could opt to return to their schools for the 2017-18 season.
Parker Gahagen (Army)
The senior is set to benefit from a recent change in US Department of Defense policy that will allow him to pursue a pro career before fulfilling his military service. Last year, he posted an impressive 2.01 GAA and has improved on that mark this year, coming in at 1.96 while still posting a save percentage in the .930’s. The fact that he can’t come back for another season should mean that he’ll come off the board quickly once his team is eliminated.
Cam Johnson (North Dakota)
Johnson hasn’t matched the production from his sophomore season (one where he won the national championship) but that would have been a very lofty goal to attain. His numbers, though quite a bit lower than last year, are still strong but he isn’t among the top goalies in college hockey this season. That might hurt his stock on the open market which could result in him coming back for his senior year.
Peyton Jones (Penn State)
There was some talk that Jones would be drafted last year after a strong final USHL season with Lincoln but he passed through without being selected. The NCAA freshman quickly assumed the starting role and has the size that many teams covet at 6’4. He’s more of a longer-term project at this stage but that shouldn’t stop teams from showing interest in him.
Hayden Lavigne (Michigan)
Last month, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned the freshman as someone who could draw some interest but the fact he has played just 13 games so far this season as a result of a three-way timeshare which could make him someone who waits another year or two before really testing the market. Lavigne put himself on the radar back in 2015-16 with a strong season with Bloomington of the USHL where he finished fourth in GAA at 2.24.
Brett Magnus (Sacred Heart)
Size is a big factor between the pipes and at 6’4, Magnus will have some teams intrigued. However, his numbers have taken a bit of a step back in his sophomore year which may make him more likely to return for his junior campaign. Worth noting, the 23 year old would be eligible for a two year entry level contract if he signs now but if he returns to school next season, his ELC would only be for one season.
Chris Nell (Bowling Green)
Nell was one of the top goalies in college hockey in 2015-16 and hasn’t been quite as successful this season (though he has still played quite well). Like Johnson, that could make him lean towards staying for next year (which would be his final season of eligibility) but he should still draw some interest in the weeks ahead. What will hurt Nell a bit is that he’s just 6’1, especially as the league trends towards taller goalie prospects.