Jarry, Comrie the best of a thin lot of NHL-drafted WHL goaltenders

By Glen Erickson
Tristan Jarry - Edmonton Oil Kings

Photo: Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Tristan Jarry and his OIl Kings teammates have had a more difficult season after winning the 2014 Memorial Cup (courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

 

HF’s list of drafted WHL goaltenders playing in the Western Hockey League includes prototypical workhorses, netminders who in most cases are tending the pipes over 80 percent of the time their teams take to the ice.

For this ranking, the criteria we used ranks drafted and/or signed prospects currently playing in the WHL.

Beyond these four players, we have listed a number of undrafted goalies that deserve recognition, given their important contributions as veterans on their respective teams.

1. Tristan Jarry (PIT), Edmonton Oil Kings

Tristan Jarry has made a habit of giving the Oil Kings a chance to win every night. He apprenticed under Laurent Brossoit (EDM) early on in his WHL career, but after he took the reigns for good, his accomplishments included backstopping Edmonton to the 2014 Memorial Cup championship.

The current season has been challenging for the Oil Kings due to the graduation of many top players and the accumulation of games missed due to injuries. In reality, the roster depth in Edmonton made it clear from the outset that another deep playoff run would be unlikely. However, with Jarry between the pipes, the Oil Kings do have a goaltender capable of stealing a couple of games. He will most certainly play pro hockey next season.

Surprisingly, Jarry was not invited to Team Canada’s selection camp for the 2015 WJC. He is arguably the best goaltender among juniors in the country to not play at the WJC. This season, he has appeared in 45 games, compiling a record of 19-21-3-2, with a goals-against average of 2.66 and .910 save percentage.

Selected in the second round, 44th overall, by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2013 NHL Draft, Jarry is composed and reliable, an even-keeled netminder with good balance and technical skills. The 19-year-old from Delta, BC checks in at 6’2” and 180 pounds. He signed an entry-level contract on September 4th, 2013.

2. Eric Comrie (WPG), Tri-City Americans

Eric Comrie has been a mainstay in Kennewick, WA since his arrival in the WHL as a 16-year-old. During that season, the Tri-City Americans opted to part with some veteran goaltenders to make room for Comrie.

Comrie was a member of Team Canada’s gold medal -winning squad at the 2015 World Junior Championship, where he played in two games behind Zach Fucale (MTL). For the first time in recent memory, Hockey Canada did not elect to bring in four goaltenders to its selection camp. Comrie and Fucale had obviously performed well enough to be anointed in advance as the goaltending tandem.

Coincidentally perhaps, Comrie shared goaltending duties with Jarry for Team Pacific at the 2011 World U17 Challenge. He also collected a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, where he shared duties between the pipes with Fucale.

Selected in the second round, 59th overall, by the Winnipeg Jets at the 2013 NHL Draft, Comrie continues to shoulder the load for the Amerks. Tri-City is battling to secure one of the wild card positions for the postseason in the WHL’s Western Conference. Upon his return from the WJC, Comrie missed a few starts while nursing a lower body injury.

Comrie, who checks in at 6’1” and 170 pounds, is sound technically. In 33 appearances this season, he has compiled a 16-16-0-1 record, along with a 2.91 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He signed an entry-level contract with Winnipeg on December 24th, 2013.

3. Marek Langhamer (ARZ), Medicine Hat Tigers

Marek Langhamer is the only import goaltender still active in the WHL, and he’ll be the last in the foreseeable future. Following the 2013 season, the CHL decided to ban import goaltenders from being drafted by its members clubs. The 20-year-old Langhamer hails from Moravska Trevoba in the Czech Republic.

The current campaign is Langhamer’s third full season with the Tigers. At 6’2” and 188 pounds, the 19-year-old Langhamer has good size and mobility, is very athletic, and waves confidently with is catching hand. In 39 appearances this season, he has compiled a 23-12-1-2 record for one of the WHL’s upper echelon teams. His goals-against average is 2.88 while his save percentage is .902.

Selected in the seventh round, 184th overall, by the now renamed Arizona Coyotes at the 2012 NHL Draft, Langhamer was a key player at the 2014 WJC for the Czech Republic. While being a late-round pick may have made his pro contract potential look precarious, Langhamer earned the confidence of the Coyotes and was signed by Arizona to an entry-level deal on May 8th, 2014.

4. Brendan Burke (ARZ), Calgary Hitmen

Brendan Burke had taken over as the number one goalie with the Portland Winterhawks last season when the club graduated stalwart Mac Carruth (CHI). He then shared duties down the stretch and through the postseason with 20-year-old veteran Corbin Boes. All told, Burke appeared in 133 games for the Winterhawks over four seasons.

By mid-season this year, the emergence of Adin Hill (2015) in Portland became a determining factor in Burke being traded to the Calgary Hitmen on January 6th. He will provide valuable depth in Calgary alongside incumbent Mack Shields.

Burke, the son of former NHL goaltender Sean Burke, checks in at 6’4” and 190 pounds. Born in Scottsdale, AZ, Burke was chosen in the sixth round, 163rd overall, by the then Phoenix Coyotes at the 2013 NHL Draft.

With Portland, Burke compiled a 7-8-3 record in 19 appearances, along with a 3.63 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. The change of scenery seems to be doing the 19-year-old a world of good. In nine appearances with the Hitmen so far, Burke has compiled a 7-1-0-1 record, a 1.96 goals-against average, and a .931 save percentage.

Top “Undrafted” Goaltenders

A handful of current WHL goaltenders are producing solid bodies of work for their respective teams this season, despite having not had their names called at an NHL Draft. As it is not uncommon for junior teams to devote a 20-year-old spot to a veteran goaltender, a few of these players may very well find themselves back in the league next season. If professional hockey opportunities do not arise, most of these goalies should have no problem securing a place to play in the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport). Many in the know across Canada recognize that the quality of CIS hockey is likely the country’s best kept secret.

Taran Kozun, Seattle Thunderbirds

The WHL leader with a 2.34 goals-against average, Kozun got his start in the league with the Kamloops Blazers. Dealt to the Thunderbirds near the trade deadline last season, Kozun has almost single-handedly kept Seattle competitive while its group of young forwards continues to develop. Kozun celebrates his 21st birthday in August.

Jackson Whistle, Kelowna Rockets

An attractive consideration for teams enamored by big-bodied goaltenders, Whistle has been statistically outstanding during his career in Kelowna behind 2014 CHL Goaltender of the Year Jordan Cooke, who now toils in the CIS. Whistle checks in at 6’1” and 185 pounds. The Vancouver Canucks had a look at Whistle prior to the current WHL season. He is eligible to return next season as a 20-year-old.

Jordan Papirny, Brandon Wheat Kings

A key veteran in Brandon this season, Papirny has already collected 36 wins in his second full campaign with the Wheaties. His total leads the entire WHL. He will celebrate his 19th birthday in April, but NHL Central Scouting has seen fit to include him in its mid-season ranking of North American goaltenders.

Austin Lotz, Everett Silvertips

As the Silvertips emerge among the top teams in the WHL this season, Lotz’s stock continues to rise as he provides stability between the pipes. He has played in 157 career games over four seasons so far, including a career-high 57 games last season. He is eligible to return as a 20-year-old.

Wyatt Hoflin, Kootenay Ice

Hoflin, now 21, leads the league in appearances with 53. Last month, the Spruce Grove, AB native set a team record by making 29 consecutive appearances, breaking the previous mark of 25 set by Todd Matthews. He leads the WHL in minutes played, approximately 150 minutes ahead of Landon Bow (Swift Current) and Jordan Papirny (Brandon).

Landon Bow, Swift Current Broncos

A workhorse for the Broncos this season, Bow has appeared in 52 games so far, well above his previous high of 27 games. He is eligible to return next season as a 20-year-old.

Ty Edmonds, Prince George Cougars

Although Edmonds played well in the 2014 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary, he went undrafted. He has shouldered much of the workload in Prince George both this season and last and by some accounts looked fatigued near the end of last season after appearing in 55 WHL games. He’s compiled a .500 record this season on a team struggling to score in front of him. Edmonds could very well play two more seasons in the WHL.

Mack Shields, Calgary Hitmen

Arrived in Calgary after a stint with the successful Saskatoon Contacts midget program, one that included a third place finish at the 2012 Telus Cup. He has already appeared in 40 games this season. Shields is eligible to return as a 20-year-old.

2015 NHL Draft-Eligible (Ranked by NHL Central Scouting)

Among those ranked by NHL Central Scouting, Connor Ingram has perhaps established himself of late as the top prospect among WHL goalies entering their first NHL Draft. Ingram is a rookie in the WHL who last season backstopped the Prince Albert Mintos at the 2014 Telus Cup in a championship game that went into three overtime periods. Ingram (6’2”, 212) was named the WHL Vaughn Goaltender of the Month for January after posting a 7-1-0-1 record, a 2.30 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.

Other Notables

Nick McBride (6’3”, 180), Prince Albert Raiders

Nick Schneider (6’2”, 160), Medicine Hat Tigers

Rylan Toth (6’1”, 195), Red Deer Rebels

Jordan Papirny (6’, 173), Brandon Wheat Kings

Rylan Parenteau (6’, 191) Prince Albert Raiders

2016 NHL Draft-Eligible

Stuart Skinner (6’3”, 195) Lethbridge Hurricanes

Follow Glen Erickson on Twitter via @glenerickson51