The New Jersey Devils enter the 2017 Draft with plethora of picks. They could use reinforcements in their prospect pool across all positions including goaltender. While I don't expect Ray Shero to make goaltending a high priority at the draft, I wouldn't be surprised to see him decide to add one to further the Devils depth at that position. Today, we are going to take a look at Michael DiPietro, a recent Memorial Cup Champion with the Windsor Spitfires.
Who is Michael DiPietro?
Michael DiPietro is a goaltender for the Windsor Spitfires. According to his OHL page, he was born on 6/9/99 and calls Amherstburg, Ontario his hometown. He's listed at 6'0, 193 lbs. and just finished his second season in the OHL. Let's take a look at his basic stats and background from EliteProspects below:
DiPietro spent his age 15 season in 2014-15 with the Sun County Panthers Minor Midget AAA of the Alliance Hockey Minor Midget Pavilion League (AHMMPL) team with the exception of a single appearance for the Leamington Flyers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL). His .916 SV% in 21 regular season games with Sun County ranked 8th among AHMMPL goaltenders. His .933 SV% in 9 playoff games ranked 7th. DiPietro also represented Team Ontario at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and Team Alliance at the OHL Gold Cup where he earned a Silver Medal.
The goaltender would make his OHL debut in 2015-16, appearing in 29 regular season games for Windsor as a rookie and going 16-8-1-1 with 2 shutouts and a 2.45 GAA and .912 SV%. In 3 playoff games he went 1-2 with a 3.48 GAA and .869 SV%. He won the Dinty Moore Trophy for the lowest GAA by a rookie and was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team. He also represented Canada Red U17 that season at the World U17 Hockey Challenge, with a tournament 1.75 GAA and a .929 SV% in 5 games.
Last season DiPietro was a workhorse for Windsor, appearing in 51 regular season games with a 30-12-4-2 record with 6 shutouts and a 2.35 GAA and .917 SV%. In the OHL Playoffs he went 3-4 in 7 games with a 2.48 GAA and .917 SV% as Windsor lost in the opening round to London. Fortunately for the Spitfires, they were hosting the Memorial Cup thus extending their season. DiPietro would go 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .932 SV% to lead Windsor to the Memorial Cup. He was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team and the Most Outstanding Goaltender. Back in August, DiPietro also got more international experience, as he played in 3 games for Canada's U18 squad at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament with a .920 SV%.
Where is Michael DiPietro Ranked?
Below are the latest rankings that are publicly available from a handful of great sources: NHL Central Scouting, The Draft Analyst, Future Considerations, and Craig Button:
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Michael DiPietro saw his stock rise slightly on the Central Scouting list, jumping up from 7th on the Midterm list to 4th on the Final list for North American goaltenders. He was ranked 39th overall in February by The Draft Analyst but fell a few spots to 44th on the May list. DiPietro was ranked 30th overall by Future Considerations in their Fall ranking, he rose to 25th on the Winter list and remained their on the Spring list, and moved back to 28th overall on the Final list. Finally, Craig Button of TSN has DiPietro 33rd on his March version of Craig's List.
What Others Say About Michael DiPietro
First, let's take a look to read some of what Future Considerations had to say on DiPietro from back in November:
An extremely quick, mobile, smart goaltender…has great lateral push to go post to post quickly and impressive subsequent save ability…he positions himself very well in net, challenges shooters high in the crease and cuts off the shot angle… poised, controlled and confident in his crease, never looks shaky even after scrambling or letting in a tally…strong mentally…focus is impressive as he seems to track the puck no matter the bodies in front of him…his speed, athleticism and reflexes make him hard to beat clean and he possesses impressive flexibility adding to his effectiveness…consistency and composure are both big parts of a successful goaltenders repertoire and he possesses both in spades.
This is certainly a glowing report on the young netminder. I get the impression reading this report that DiPietro has the fundamentals of the position down well and has been on a nice developmental curve. I really like reading that he is mentally strong - a must for any goaltender to succeed on the professional level.
Next, let's check out some of what Bill Placzek had to say on DiPietro over at DraftSite:
One of the riskiest decisions in the draft is surrounded around him due to the fact he is only six foot although he is a first rounder prospect in terms of his on ice play. Has great flexibility and spring to his down to up movement. handles the puck with the best of them. Has soft pads to soak up shots and reduce rebounds, and stays square to shooters making them have to be perfect in their attempts. Tracks the puck really well, and quickly goes cross crease with excellent push form post to post. A competitor with strong focus who gobbles up rebounds, and if he can’t stays with the puck so he can stop the second attempt.
I'm interested in seeing where DiPietro gets drafted given his size. Trying to predict where goaltenders get drafted is awfully difficult and prospect like DiPietro that has talent, but lacks size is a big question mark. I wouldn't be surprised if you were to survey scouts, if you received a wide range of responses on where to rank DiPietro's chances of professional success.
Over at The Draft Analyst, Steve Kournianos has DiPietro going 39th overall in his recent mock draft. Here is what he wrote on DiPietro:
I’ll admit that I’m playing favorites by making this Spitfire the first goalie picked from an uber-talented crop of backstops. There’s a lot to love about DiPietro’s game — smart, cat-like quickness and a fierce competitor. He doesn’t have ideal height for a modern-day NHL goalie, but he makes up for it with perfect positioning and net awareness.
Clearly, Kournianos isn't worried about DiPietro's frame and is confident in the goaltender's skillset going forward.
A Little Video
Below is a highlights package of DiPietro from a game against Flint on 10/22/16 by YouTube user NHL Prospects. You can see many of the aforementioned aspects of his game on display.
You can see his quick reflexes from this save in the CHL Top Prospects game from January. You also see his concentration and positioning on display despite having to deal with traffic in front of his crease. This video is also from NHL Prospects on YouTube.
An Opinion of Sorts
Based on the reports about DiPietro's game above, I hold a favorable view of him as a prospect. I like that he's able to use his athleticism to make up for his lack of size. I like that he understands his position, has a solid fundamental base, and is mentally strong. Having quick reflexes which help him make highlight reel saves also makes him exciting to watch. Even using a variation of one of my favorite metrics to assess goaltenders, Goals Saved Above Average, DiPietro stands out among his OHL peers. A quick reminder that GSAA = Saves-(League AvgSV%*Shots Against). Adjusted GSAA takes into account shots from low, medium, and high danger areas on the ice. According to Prospect-Stats, he had the 4th highest adjusted GSAA in the OHL (min. 1000 shots) at 22.71. His adjusted GSAA per 30 shots (min. 1000 shots) was ranked 3rd at 0.492. For comparison, current Devils prospect, Evan Cormier, had a -2.18 adjusted GSAA and -0.043. Though it is important to keep in mind that Windsor was a stronger team than Saginaw last season, but still, DiPietro did outperform Cormier by a decent amount while being a year younger. Personally, I'd put DiPietro on the list of goaltenders that I find intriguing for this draft. With all of that said, I don't want the Devils to rush to get him. If they really wanted to select him, I'd hope it'd be with one of their extra mid round picks as I'd still rather see them focus more on forwards and defensemen in the draft.
What are your thoughts on DiPietro as a prospect? Where would you rank him compared to the other goaltending prospects? Would you want the Devils to have interest in him? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!