For the second straight day we’re going to profile a goaltending prospect for the upcoming 2019 draft. Yesterday, John profiled Ilya Konovalov and noted that General Manager Ray Shero has consistently selected a goaltender in every draft since coming to New Jersey. Danish goaltender Mads Sogaard is an interesting option given his experience playing junior hockey in North America and 6’7 frame. This profile will take a look at who he is, where he came from, and what type of goaltender he is developing into.
Who is Mads Sogaard?
According to his WHL page, Mads Sogaard is a 6’7, 190 lbs. goaltender. His EliteProspects page has his weight at 196 lbs. and correctly notes that he catches with his left hand (the WHL page incorrectly states his right hand). He was born on December 13, 2000 and is from Aalborg, Denmark. He is coming off of his first WHL season after being selected in the 1st round, 32nd overall by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.
Sogaard came up through the ranks of his hometown team, Aalborg IK. EliteProspects list him as being a member of the Aalborg U17 team from 2013-16 for his age 13 to 15 seasons. In his age 15 season, EliteProspects has him on the roster for the U20 team as well as the club’s men’s teams in both the first and second divisions of Danish hockey. Unfortunately, those stats are hard to come by. It appears that Sogaard transferred to the Esbjerg IK program for his age 16 season in 2016-17 where he was on the roster for the U17 team as well as the men’s teams in the first and second divisions. Once again, it doesn’t appear that stats are easily accessible for those seasons.
Sogaard decided to test himself against his peers on North American ice, starting with his pre-draft season in 2017-18. The Danish netminder moved to the Austin Bruins of the NAHL (second tier of junior hockey in the USA) where he went 11-6-2-0 with a 2.64 GAA and .909 SV% across 22 games. This performance was good enough to make him an intriguing option for the 2018 CHL Import Draft. As mentioned earlier, he would be selected in the first round, 32nd overall by the Medicine Hat Tigers.
This past season he played in 37 games as a rookie in the WHL and put up a strong 19-8-2-2 record with a 2.64 GAA and .921 SV% in regular season action. That SV% ranked 4th among WHL goaltenders that played in 30+ games. He was solid in the playoffs with a .919 SV% as Medicine Hat was knocked out after 6 games against Edmonton in the opening round.
International hockey is no stranger to Sogaard. As we can see from his EliteProspects profile, he’s represented Denmark from the U16 to U20 age groups. The numbers aren’t pretty for the most part as is often the case considering Denmark is not one of the big hockey nations. He did manage to be a part of two U18 WJC Bronze Medal teams in 2017 and 2018. He also made 5 appearances in the most recent U20 WJC though a couple of rough outings left him with a .802 SV%.
Where is Mads Sogaard Ranked?
Final rankings for most outlets are yet to come out so here are some of the most recent ones available:
- NHL Central Scouting Services: North American Goaltenders - 3 (Midterm), North American Goaltenders - 2 (Final)
- Steve Kournianos - The Draft Analyst: 291 (Preseason 400, August 2018), 84 (Midseason 400, December 2018), 3 North American Goaltenders (Top 500, April 2019)
- Future Considerations: 49 (Winter Ranking), 47 (March 5, Spring Ranking)
It’s worth noting that Sogaard has maintained his ranking as one of the top North American goaltenders available in this draft on the Central Scouting and Future Considerations list. It’s also encouraging that he’s steadily rose in the The Draft Analyst rankings as the season progressed.
What Others Say About Mads Sogaard
Kevin Woodley has this insightful article highlighting how Sogaard hopes to follow in Frederik Andersen’s footsteps in being the next Danish goaltender in the NHL. It includes quotes from Sogaard, Medicine Hat goaltending coach J.F. Martel, and Central Scouting’s Al Jensen. Here are some of those quotes about Sogaard’s game:
”Huge pro presence,” Central Scouting’s Al Jensen said. “He moves extremely well for such a big goalie. Strong, efficient and quick lateral ability.”
”He’s just so fluid for his size, he has pretty good control in his game, and got stronger as the year went on, there was more control on lateral plays,” Martel said. “He took some steps and will continue to take steps once he gets on with an NHL team and goes to summer camp and rookie camp. He’ll keep evolving against really good shooters. He’s a very smart person and a very smart goalie.”
I think it’s notable that two different observers came away with the same impression of Sogaard’s game. Sure he has a large frame and can naturally cover a lot of the net, but it’s encouraging to read that this isn’t at the sacrifice of his mobility. Size means nothing on it’s own, the fact that Sogaard has the muscle control and vision to move around his crease to cut down angles against opposing shooters is a big reason why he is one of the top goaltenders available in this year’s draft.
Bill Placzek of DraftSite has this quick take on Sogaard’s game:
Giant Danish goaler who is quite agile and flexible. Covers much of the open net and is able in a crouch, take away the bottom, then propel himself in a cross net push to the other post. Looks awkward when standing tall, but is quite athletic enough to shuffle through his positioning despite his massive upper body. Nice developmental goalie who might eventually surprise as a big leaguer.
Once again we see another report about Sogaard’s athletic ability that allows him to cover his net well. I find it interesting that Placzek uses the phrase “developmental goalie” in regards to Sogaard. Of course all goaltenders need time to develop but it seems like Sogaard may need a bit longer than the average goaltending prospect. His frame will probably fill out with more weight and he’ll have to learn to adjust to that. Plus, he has only been in North America for two seasons and has only played one season of major junior hockey. Sogaard comes across as a prospect with high potential but patience will be key in his development.
Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst had this to say and tweet about Sogaard after the CHL Top Prospects Game in January:
Sogaard had to be pulled last week from a start against Edmonton due to a hip issue, but he showed no issues in mobility or flexibility. He wasn’t pelted with chance after chance, but his technique looked solid, and he was displaying his exceptional puck-handling skills.
#CHLTPG: Mads Sogaard's push, stop and recovery is outstanding. And I like how he's outside the crease. pic.twitter.com/bndAWsburc— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) January 24, 2019
It’s notable that Sogaard had a minor hip issue this past season but it didn’t affect his play. I like reading that he had a solid game in the prospect showcase that is the CHL Top Prospects Game.
A Little Video
The first video we have of Sogaard comes from GoalieTributes on YouTube:
The video opens up with Sogaard making an impressive save that showcases his recovery ability and agility in his crease. A wrist shot from the Finnish defenseman is deflected right into the path of a Finnish forward, essentially serving as a perfect cross-ice pass down low. Sogaard does well to adjust to the deflection and get his body into position to make the save. I’m also impressed by the stops he makes in the next few clips as he is able to fight traffic to track the puck and use his large frame to cover his net well. At the 1:22 mark he makes a double save with the second save once again showcasing his lateral movement in the crease. It is worth noting that he did kick the rebound out on the initial shot right to the opposition which is why he had to recover to make that impressive save in the first place though. At the 1:43 mark he handles a 2v1 well after his defenseman is unable to take away the pass and makes another nice side to side save on a one timer. You can really see the way his large frame helps him as he is able to cover a large portion of the lower half of the net to make it hard for opposing shooters to beat him.
The next highlight package comes from the Western Hockey League on YouTube. It contains a lot of similar saves to the first video, though you get to see him utilize his glove a bit more and get more of a feel for the way he cuts down his angles in goal.
An Opinion of Sorts
Ray Shero has been no stranger to drafting goaltenders in New Jersey and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him add another one in this draft. Any goaltender they draft now would be for years down the road and would help to re-stock the pipeline. I hold a favorable opinion of Sogaard and would put him in the group of goaltenders that I am interested in for this draft.
I like that Sogaard is able to combine his raw 6’7” frame with above average athletic ability. He’s naturally able to cover a large part of the net and be an intimidating prescence, yet he’s able to utilize his strength in moving that frame in a quick, agile manner to make saves. He takes away the bottom of the net well and has shown a solid enough glove hand to make stops up high. Though it looks like being a bit more consistent with his glove hand could be an area of his game that he’ll look to further refine as he attempts to round out his overall game. I like that Sogaard challenges shooters and doesn’t get overwhelmed in traffic, though I’d like to see him continue to work on his rebound control over the next few seasons.
When it comes to evaluating goaltenders from a distance, I like to look at numbers like Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA), Goals Allowed Percentage Minus (GA%-), Quality Start Percentage (QS%), and Really Bad Start Percentage (RBS%). Of course numbers aren’t everything but I think it can help us see how these goaltenders compare to their peers. A quick reminder about these stats:
- GSAA = Saves-(League Average SV%*Shots Against); Developed by Hockey Reference
- GA%- = 100*((1-player save %)/(1-league average save %)); Developed by Hockey Reference
- Quality Start = “In order to record a Quality Start, the starting goalie must stop at least a league average number of shots or play at least as well as a replacement-level goalie while allowing two goals or fewer.”; Developed by Robert Vollman
- Really Bad Start = “The Really Bad Start, where a goalie fails to stop even 85% of the shots.”; Developed by Robert Vollman
After gathering the WHL data, I found that the average SV% last season was .903 which is to be expected in a league with such high offensive talent. Among all WHL goaltenders Sogaard ranked 4th with a 19.89 GSAA and was about 19% above league average according to his 81 GA%-. His 0.60 GSAA/60 was also very impressive compared to his peers. Sogaard also put up a very strong 69.70 QS% and had a 12.12 RBS%. Among the 10 WHL goaltenders ranked by Central Scouting, Sogaard is very comfortably in the #2 spot behind Dustin Wolf who was ranked as the 12th best goaltender by Central Scouting - likely due to his 5’11, 160 lbs. frame. Though we’ll have more on him at some point later on in this series. To conclude, I don’t necessarily think Sogaard should be the top goaltender the Devils should target at the draft, but he should definitely be on the list and is a promising prospect.
What are your thoughts on Mads Sogaard as a prospect? Would you want the Devils to draft him? Do you prefer other draft eligible goaltenders to him? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!