Of the four goaltenders that took part in the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver this week, Evan Fitzpatrick of the Sherbrooke Phoenix sported the largest frame at 6’3” and 222 pounds. Given the penchant in recent years for NHL teams to employ bigger and bigger goalies, it would appear that in many cases, size does matter.
Fitzpatrick was an early selection in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft, selected fourth overall by the Phoenix. During his rookie season, he appeared in 32 games, setting the tone in Sherbrooke where he is now the number one. This season, he has appeared in 39 of 48 games so far for the Phoenix. He is third in the QMJHL with 2,290 minutes played and he leads the league with 1,109 saves. Sherbrooke is in tough for a post-season berth, but Fitzpatrick has compiled a 3.20 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.
Like many goaltenders, Fitzpatrick admits to some quirkiness or superstitions. He will diligently lay out his clothes on the floor at home before every game and at the rink he is committed to a pre-game visualization routine that he suggests entertains his teammates to some extent. For Fitzpatrick, he says it’s all about getting dialed in.
In an era where aspiring hockey players tend to make the sport a 12-month proposition, Fitzpatrick is much the same, but he has strong roots in competitive baseball with Team Newfoundland. He is a community-minded youngster who donates a pair of tickets to each Phoenix home game to Leucan Estrie, an organization that supports children with cancer.
When asked to discuss his attributes, Fitzpatrick calls himself a hard worker, dedicated and persistent. He takes a professional approach and considers himself a winner.
When Fitzpatrick strapped on the gear last night in Vancouver, he was doing so while celebrating his 18th birthday. He is ranked second among North American goalies by NHL Central Scouting in its midterm rankings.
The NHL’s scouting arm describes the St. John’s, Newfoundland native’s skill set as follows: “An excellent positional style goalie. He has a very big presence in the net and plays ‘big’ in all situations. He displays great angle play and he plays to the top of the crease, not leaving much room for shooters. Very confident and poised to hold his ground, he battles hard to track the puck through traffic or grab onto loose pucks in the crease area. Very good butterfly coverage for both low and high shots. He extends his pads out quickly, protecting the low corners while keeping his body upright protecting the upper corners. He has strong legs for recovery skills, very good balance and controlled body movements.”
Hockey’s Future spoke with Fitzpatrick prior to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, with his comments being captured in this HF Podcast.
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