Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Benjamin Gaudreau is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible goaltender, who hails from North Bay, Ontario.
Gaudreau plays for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, but only played in international play for Team Canada this year due to COVID-19. He was on the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship roster for Team Canada alongside two other 2021 NHL Draft eligible goaltenders, Thomas Milic (Seattle Thunderbirds) and Tyler Brennan (Prince George Cougars).
In an early May column from Steven Ellis of The Hockey News, he brought up that if/when Gaudreau makes it to the NHL level that he could be the first GNML (Great North Midget Goaltender) goaltender to do so. The only other former GNML goaltender who could beat him to the NHL is Dallas Stars’ prospect Colton Point.
Ellis also noted in his column that “Gaudreau had an opportunity to play in Oslo, Norway while the OHL was on hiatus, but didn’t have his passport renewed in time before the opportunity was gone”.
Last season was Gaudreau’s first season in the OHL. He was drafted the summer before by the Sarnia Sting at 7th overall. In his 2019-2020 season, he played in 28 games and posted a GAA of 4.34 and a SV% of .890.
At the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championships in Texas, Gaudreau was dominant. In five games, he recorded a 2.20 GAA and a .919 SV%. Gaudreau was awarded the Directorate Award for Best Goalie of the tournament.
D.O.B – January 11, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –174 lbs
Position – Goaltender
Catches – Left
Gaudreau’s Style Of Play
Skating, Stance and Post Security
When Gaudreau is facing shots from between the corners to the post, he will drop into a butterfly position. Roughly 65-70% of the side of the net is protected. Gaudreau protects the posts well and will utilize RVH over VH. Throughout his tournament play at the U18s, he illustrated just how dominant he is when facing scoring chances at the posts.
If he is standing tall and protecting the posts, he doesn’t leave any openings except for a thin sliver between his blocker/glove (depending on which post) and his shoulder. But, regardless if he is standing tall or in a butterfly, he will position himself slightly outwards from the net and his pads overlap the lower half of the posts. In addition, depending on the post, his blocker or glove will also overlap the post.
In medium and high danger situations, he will deploy a lowered stance and depending on the situation, he will vacate the net and position himself on the outer edge of the crease. For an example of Gaudreau’s lowered stance, check out the below screenshot.
When standing up-right and moving side-to-side, Gaudreau deploys excellent edges/pivots when shifting around the net. If there is puck movement behind the net, Gaudreau will extend his pads out. Each pad will sit at the posts and that allows him to quickly shift his entire body to one post when the attack lures the puck to net front.
While his stance is one that is normally very secure, he needs to work on how far he will drift away from the net. Gaudreau will position himself near the front of the crease and that will lead to a few vulnerable situations when facing medium danger scoring chances. When he vacates the net, it makes it easier for the opposing shooter to go with a low glove/top shelf glove side shot and find the back of the net.
Athleticism and Speed
Gaudreau prefers to shift from side to side while standing tall. Unlike goaltenders like Yaroslav Askarov, who thrive at pushing off of their pads, Gaudreau has shown that he will opt to jump from the butterfly instead of using his pads for acceleration. With that being said, Gaudreau will tend to be a little slower when going side-to-side if you compare him against fellow draft eligibles like Jesper Wallstedt.
Yet, he is quick on his feet when he is facing a shot at net-front. He will overlap the post, plays low to the ground with his stance and quickly shifts over more to the left when it’s clear that the shooter is going to the left.
Not only is his foot work in good form, but his reaction timing is strong too. He will display good reaction timing when the puck carrier misses the net and an attacker’s teammate who is on the right of the attacker, grabs a hold of the puck and Gaudreau shifts over to nab the glove save just in time.
Gaudreau constantly showcases quality athleticism, in a U18 tournament game against Russia, he was knocked down after facing a squared save, the rebound ended up in high danger, but he was able to secure the save with his glove when he was down.
While Gaudreau isn’t the tallest goaltender draft eligible prospect, he still possesses quality vision. He is quite strong with traffic in front him as he has no difficulty spotting the puck and controlling rebounds. When being screened, he has a watchful eye on the point and can complete glove saves on low danger shots.
When watching puck movement behind his net, Gaudreau he keeps a watchful eye and that only makes him stronger at post protection.
One of Gaudreau’s strongest attributes is his glove work. Gaudreau can execute quality glove saves with traffic screening him at net front, low glove saves on backhand shots and he can glove shots at medium and low danger with an open air glove.
When he doesn’t have his glove extended out, he will use his chest to support the capture of the puck. The North Bay native tends to complete more glove saves when squared up to the puck carrier versus when he is going side-to-side. He will struggle a bit when attempting to glove shots when he shifts from left to right. During his play at the U18s, he let in a few side-to-side goals including one from Leksands forward Isak Rosén.
While he has shown great development in his glove work, he needs to open up his glove a bit more at times. There will be a few shots over the course of a game, in which his glove appears to more closed than open.
When it comes to controlling rebounds, Gaudreau shines and is one of the best in the 2021 NHL Draft class. Gaudreau will utilize his blocker, glove, pads and stick to control rebounds. He won’t just rely on one or two. Gaudreau can push rebounds to low danger with his glove when he can’t grasp the puck with his glove. Similarly, when facing shots on his blocker side, he has fared well at rebound control.
He will consistently have his stick covering his five hole and is effective at deflecting shots with his stick blade and shaft. Not only will he execute controlled rebounds with his stick, but he also has proven that he can retain possession of the puck when it appears that the puck is its way to high danger. He will backhand the puck back to his glove to capture possession.
Stick-handling and passing is one of the areas that needs more development. Occasionally, you will see Gaudreau be a tad slower on his decision making and allows the forecheck to catch up to him when he is behind his net in the trapezoid. There have been some close calls where the forechecker was one or two seconds out from capturing the puck before Gaudreau attempted a pass. There are also instances where Gaudreau attempted to pass the puck and mistimed the pass. Over the course of his U18 tournament play in Texas, InStat logged his pass completion percentage at 73%. So, there is room to grow with his stick-handling and passing.
As I mentioned earlier, in his 2019-2020 season, he played in 28 games and posted a GAA of 4.34 and a SV% of .890. While the GAA and SV% appear to be on the higher (GAA) and lower (SV%) end, keep in mind that OHL goalies tend to have higher GAA and lower SV% than goalies at the NHL level. In fact, there were only nine goaltenders in 2019-2020 that had a SV% over .900. In comparison, fellow 2021 NHL Draft eligible goaltender, Tristan Lennox of the Saginaw Spirit owned a .876 SV%. To be honest, I don’t base any scouting decisions on GAA or SV%. It can be inflated or deflated based on the league. But, I will look at SV% when it comes to saves on high danger (HDSV), medium danger (MDSV) and low danger shots (LDSV) as that will give you a better understanding of a goaltender’s performance than the generic SV% statistic. In fact, here are Gaudreau’s HDSV, MDSV and LDSV numbers from the nine games of his that I have tracked.
Based on the games, the average HDSV, MDSV and LDSV for Gaudreau are:
You will notice that I’ve included a few other 2021 NHL Draft eligible goaltenders to show how they performed in comparison to Gaudreau. Gaudreau posted a higher HDSV, MDSV and SV% then the average. For LDSV%, he was .18% lower than the average. But many goaltenders that I have tracked own a LDSV% under 95% including Emerik Despatie, Jacob Goobie, Lennox, Gerasimyuk, Juuso Helmoaa, Kaiden Mbereko and Tomas Suchanek.
Below you can find his high danger versus low danger and medium danger versus high danger rebound rates. You will notice that Gaudreau fares extremely well in both graphs against his fellow 2021 NHL Draft eligible goaltenders.
For quickness, you will see below that his up/down timing is strong and owns a similar timing to Jesper Wallstedt and Maxim Motorygin. But, his side-to-side timing is a bit slower.
Starting Goaltender (NHL)
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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