Adin Hill is a 19 year old goaltending prospect hailing from Calgary who currently plays in the WHL for the Portland Winterhawks. Undrafted last year, this will be his second time through the draft process, and he hopes that this time he finds a home. He is a taller goalie (although not Ben Bishop tall), standing at 6'3" and weighing 185 pounds. His final ranking by Central Scouting placed him as the #4 North American goalie prospect for this draft. At the midterm rankings, however, he was ranked #9, so he has improved enough this past season to impress the scouts.
Despite being the #4 ranked North American goalie, the odds of Hill being drafted high are not that great. Numerous goalies do not often get drafted early, and so many fall. Plus, Hill was draft eligible last season and went undrafted. Because of his great season with a real good Winterhawks team, however, expect to see him taken later on in the draft. Draft Site has him being taken by San Jose in the 6th round as a matter of fact. Let's see what any team who drafts him would be getting.
Who is Adin Hill?
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With a goalie, I feel that it is also important to mention the team in front of him, so let's do that first. The Portland Winterhawks were a very good team this past season. They went 43-23-2-4, good for 2nd in their division and 3rd in their conference. They also had a fine playoff run, making it to the conference finals before losing to the Kelowna Rockets in 6 games. They played 17 total games in the playoffs, going 10-7.
As per CHL Stats, The Winterhawks allowed an average of 34.54 shots against per game, good for 19th in a league of 22 teams. That means that on average, Adin was facing more shots than most goalies in the WHL. Of course, despite this he was also getting considerable goal support, as Portland scored 287 goals during the regular season, good for 4th in the league.
Hill played 46 of the team's 72 regular season games, posting a decent 2.81 goals against average and a quality .921 save percentage. The 2.81 is nothing to gawk over, but that is less on the goalie. The save percentage is the more important statistic, and it is the better one for Hill, with a .921 being very respectable indeed. In fact, according to an article in the Columbian, the Winterhawks were so impressed with Hill that they traded away their veteran goalie Brendan Burke at midseason, which allowed Hill to gain more starts down the stretch.
Adin also played in all 17 of Portland's playoff games this year, posting a 2.96 GAA and a .911 SV%. The .911 is a little down from what he did during the regular season, but it was also his first major playoff run in his career, so one would hope that the learning experience this season will help him improve on that number in the future.
What Others Have Said About Hill
Seeing as Hill is entering his 2nd draft year of eligibility, he falls on the list of returnees to the draft. At the Hockey Writers, they created a list of what they feel to be the top 10 draft returnees. Hill is 8th on their list, and Derek Neumeier writes:
"Playing on a powerhouse team like the Portland Winterhawks means that Hill might not always be challenged as much as goalies on other teams, but this season he's been head and shoulders above any other goalie that's dressed for his squad. Great natural size at 6'4″ yet still able to move around the crease well."
I think a couple things stand out. Yes the first comment is a negative, as Adin was not facing excellent scoring chances a lot. But that he was able to do what he did on his team was a positive for him, as he was so much better than anyone else. He is also decently mobile despite his size, which I think is a positive as well.
Another writer at the same website, Nicco Cardarelli, did a draft preview for the Toronto Maple Leafs, taking a stab at who the team might draft with their picks. For the 6th round, Nicco thinks that Hill might be taken by the Leafs with the 155th overall selection. He then has this to say about the goalie:
"Adin Hill is a pretty intriguing goaltending prospect. He's big, he's athletic, and he's a competitor. Hill had a tremendous rookie season with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, posting a 2.81 goals against average, a .921 save-percentage, and two shutouts among his 31 wins. While some will say that Hill's stats and success are a byproduct of the team playing in front of him, one thing you can't argue is his maturity and mental toughness."
At the end of the piece, Nicco compares Hill to James Reimer and Scott Darling as current NHL goaltenders who play a similar game to him. That is decent praise, albeit not excellent praise. Both Reimer and Darling are quality NHL goalies. Reimer was a starter on Toronto and still platoons there, and Darling has done a great job while in relief for Corey Crawford in Chicago. If Hill can reach the success level of a Reimer, any team would have to be happy with that.
NESN did an article about the top goaltending prospects in this year's draft class, and they have Hill as the 5th ranked goalie. This is what they have to say about him:
"Hill is able to fight through traffic to locate pucks, keeps rebounds close to him and remains poised when opponents fire a ton of shots in a short amount of time. His athleticism also is better than a lot of the goaltenders in this class. Hill led all WHL goaltenders in save percentage during the regular season."
Obviously that is all positive, and is pretty good praise. Not giving up juicy rebounds is imperative in the NHL, as skaters are more than skilled enough to put those in the net. If Hill is good at preventing those, he has a chance to succeed at the NHL level. Also, many goals are scored through screens, and his ability to fight through traffic and snag screened shots is also a key skill to have.
A Little Video
First let me qualify that there is next to nothing out there on Hill specifically. What I have found, however, I have thrown here, for better or worse. The first video is an interview with Adin:
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Here is a short home video of Hill defending his crease. It is a little comical, but hey, at least it shows that he is willing to be physical to defend his area.
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Before getting into my thoughts, I first want to mention an article I read over at Oilers Nation regarding who the best goaltending prospect is in this upcoming draft. The author, Lowetide, comes to the conclusion that it is extremely difficult to project how a goalie will perform as he ages. He brings up Zach Fucale, who was a highly touted prospect at the draft in New Jersey a couple years ago. Since then, he has not really performed like expected, with his save percentage dipping down to .885 this past season in the QMJHL. However, there are also goalies like Henrik Lundqvist, who were 7th round picks and ended up being stars. Essentially, Lowetide says that drafting goalies is a crapshoot more or less, and that it can be near impossible to predict which goalies will succeed at the NHL level.
With that being the case, I think that taking a late round stab on someone like Adin Hill is not a bad idea for teams that need goaltending prospects, or may be looking for a new starting goalie within the next few years. Hill had a real quality season this year with Portland, and showed flashes of potential that could make him a quality NHL goaltender. At this point in his career, however, Hill is certainly more of a project pick. He has one full season of starting experience in the WHL, and certainly would need to develop more before moving up to the AHL and beyond. But the talent and potential is there; whether or not he develops on a positive trajectory is something to be seen.
As for what New Jersey should do, I don't think it would be the worst decision to take a goalie like Hill towards the end of the draft. Of course, the Devils have an all-star in Cory Schneider and a quality backup in Keith Kinkaid, so goaltenders are not needed presently. However, Hill would most likely not be ready to make the jump to the NHL in the next two seasons. After that, if Kinkaid continues to improve and play really well, he may get an offer to be a starter somewhere else. That would create an opening behind Schneider. The Devils do have goalie prospects in the system, Scott Wedgewood and Maxime Clermont coming to mind. But it would not hurt to have another, and Hill could fill that need. I certainly would not advocate taking him over a better forward prospect, but if Adin Hill is at the top of their board when the Devils select with one of their last picks in the draft, then I would not have a problem with them taking a chance on him.
Now that you have heard my opinion, what do you think about Hill? Do you think that he has a chance to become a quality starter in the NHL one day, or do you think that he is a long shot? If you think he has a chance, should the Devils consider taking him later in the draft? Or, do you think that there is no need for New Jersey to take a goalie given the team's current depth at the position? Please leave your comments in the section below, and thanks for reading.