With our New Jersey Devils still in a transitional period, we can't be quite sure exactly what moves our General Manager Ray Shero will make to better the team; I mean come on, if I told you a week ago that we would be acquiring Marc Savard('s cap hit) and a 2nd for 2 prospects, I might have been laughed off of this site! Shero will have 9 draft choices to continue making his mark (no pun intended) on this team starting on June 24th; while forwards are definitely needed most followed by defense (specifically the left side), will Shero go off the map and choose a goaltender, such as 2nd ranked North American goalie Carter Hart?
Who is Carter Hart?
Hart was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on August 13, 1998. His career started out in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League playing for Fort Saskatchewan and then moving to the Sherwood Park system. He would then join the Everett Silvertips of the WHL for 2 appearances in 2013-14 before becoming a full time part of the team the next season. At 6'1" and 181 pounds, Hart is fairly average in size for a goaltender, though like most prospects his age, he will most likely need to bulk up a little before being ready to see NHL action. Now let's take a look at his full career stats courtesy of Elite Prospects:
Hart appeared in only 30 games in 2014-15, but still managed a 2.29 goals against average with a save percentage of .915. He would increase his workload from 30 games to 63 this past season and managed to decrease his GAA to 2.14 and increase his SV% to .918; to me, that's fairly impressive considering the fact that he improved those numbers while playing more than double the amount of games from the prior season. Not bad for a former 8th Round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft!
Where is Hart ranked?
Hart is the second highest ranked North American goaltender in this year's draft according to NHL.com. Despite his high ranking, it does not appear that he will be chosen in the first round unless there is a team desperately looking to for a goalie.
Draftsite.com does have him going fairly early in the draft in the 2nd round at #38 overall to the Buffalo Sabres.
What Others Say About Carter Hart
Bill Placzak of Draftsite.com had this blurb about Hart's progression and game at the junior level:
An confident goalie who is agile and flexible, and possesses a super-quick glove. Has the ability to swing momentum in his team's favor. Squares up on shooters and is quick going post to post. Displays good rebound control, excellent reaction time, flexibility and flattens very low in the butterfly. Teams will be concerned if he is going grow bigger than his present six foot. His glove, reflexes, and quick pads are what have got him this far.
While this is a bit of a short summary, it does a nice job detailing Hart's strengths: agile, flexible, great glove, and quick pads. While his height is seen as a bit of a drawback (and honestly I can't see why as he's of fairly average height as I stated above) Carter's game according to Placzak is about using his skill to make up for any deficiencies in his game. All in all, I think whichever team drafts Hart will be happy with what they have in him.
NHL.com's Mike Morreale wrote an article profiling Carter just about 2 months ago, dubbing him a "thinking-man's goaltender" in part due to his usage of a sports psychologist. More to the point however were quotes from Al Jensen of Central Scouting as well as from Hart himself:
"He's very poised, patient and calm in the net," Central Scouting's Al Jensen said. "He doesn't get rattled, has an excellent butterfly and seals the ice well with his pads. He can keep his body upright to protect the upper corners, has a good glove hand and good rebound control."
He's glad to be recognized so highly by Central Scouting, but knows there's more work to be done.
"It's just a ranking, the draft is still months away and we have a lot of games remaining," Hart said. "Hopefully, we'll get a chance to raise another banner in Everett this year after raising [a division title] for the first time in nine years in 2014-15."
I would have liked to have seen a bit of reaction from the author as well, but based on the fact that he probably had to be as objective as possible, I can understand the omission. I do like the quote from Jensen, as it agrees with Draftsite's analysis of Hart's game, and as anyone who has read my prospect profiles before knows, I don't trust a prospect who I can find conflicting scouting reports about. That's not to say that there aren't some areas that need improvement in Carter's game, but his strengths are being realized by multiple sources.
A Little Video
Our first video today is a profile from the WHL on Shaw TV's YouTube channel. It does a nice job detailing how Hart got to be Everett's starter, discusses the type of player he is, and how he got to this point professionally all while showing highlights of Carter in action; honestly; if you have the 2 and a 1/2 minutes to spare, watch this video:
Next we have a video from the Edmonton Oilers' channel which is an interview with Hart after the NHL scouting combine from less than 2 weeks ago:
I'd like to finish our video section today with a very short clip detailing an excellent save by Hart; while it may or may not be the "save of the year" as the video is titled, it shows Carter's glove and backs up Placzak's claim about it:
An Opinion of Sorts
I have to say that I'm impressed from what I've read and seen of Carter Hart; while many NHL teams seem to be clamoring for larger goaltenders that decrease the amount of open net, I've always been a firm believer that skill will triumph over size. If the NHL does indeed shrink the equipment of goaltenders, suddenly those larger, less skilled goalies are going to start looking like human sieves, and goaltenders such as Hart as well as our own Cory Schneider are going to be the types of players teams will covet.
Even with his excellent skill set and high draft position, I can't see New Jersey selecting Carter Hart for one reason: MacKenzie Blackwood. The Devils goaltending pipeline isn't so thin that they will look to use another 2nd round pick on a goalie as they did last year, at least in this writer's opinion. Due to the way that goalies are drafted, if the Devils really wanted another goalie in the prospect pool, I would think they would need to think about it in the 3rd round or later; the need for high quality forwards as well as a defender or two should outweigh the need for drafting a goalie at this point in time.
Now I'd like to hear your thoughts on Carter Hart; would you like to see him in a Devils jersey? Are there any particular aspects of his game that you like? Anything specific that you dislike? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that New Jersey will not select him due to drafting MacKenzie Blackwood? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!