While the Canucks have a blue chip goaltending prospect in Thatcher Demko, they don’t have much depth at the position in the organization. Other than Demko, they have Michael Garteig in the system and that’s it.
Getting a goaltender on day two of the draft had to be a priority for Jim Benning and they didn’t waste any time, taking Michael DiPietro with the 64th overall pick.
Can you believe it? Yet another team traded Roberto Luongo before drafting a goaltender named DiPietro. Sure, there was a larger gap of time between the trade and pick this time around, but there must be some significance to this grand cosmic coincidence, right?
No, there is not.
DiPietro is coming off a strong season and a superb Memorial Cup, where he was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Goaltender. He had a .917 save percentage for the Windsor Spitfires in the regular season and playoffs, then stepped up en route to a Memorial Cup championship with a .932 save percentage, including a 32-save performance in the final.
While he has modest size at 6’0”, he makes up for that with excellent technique, great reads, and athleticism. If he was a larger goaltender, he would be much higher ranked, but was still considered a second round talent on most draft rankings.
Future Considerations even ranked DiPietro in the first round, 28th overall, while Craig Button ranked him 33rd, Hockey Prospect 37th, Bob McKenzie 41st, and McKeen’s 53rd. Central Scouting ranked him 4th among North American goaltenders, while International Scouting Services had him 6th among all goaltenders.
The Canucks did well, then, getting him 64th overall. DiPietro was one of the best goaltenders in the OHL this season, finishing 4th in save percentage among goaltenders with at least 10 games played, and first among first-time draft-eligible goaltenders. According to work done by Scouching, he led all goaltenders in the CHL in Goals Saved Above Average.
He’s also looked good in international competition, putting up a .920 save percentage in 3 games at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament for Team Canada and excelled at the World Under-17 Challenge back in 2015, establishing himself as one of the best Canadian goaltenders in his age group. That means he has a strong chance at making Team Canada for the World Junior Championship.
ISS scout Phil Myre calls him “quick and competitive,” and praises his “very good lateral movement” and “ability to make big time saves.” That’s something that DiPietro prides himself on, saying “I rely on my athleticism. I don't want to be a conventional goalie, I like making the big save.”
That’s actually a bit concerning, as goaltenders that rely too much on their athleticism tend to take themselves out of position, requiring big saves. That may fly at lower levels, but can get you in trouble in the NHL.
Hockey Prospect praises his rebound control and suggests he has the talent to overcome his smaller stature. Their scout, Mark Edwards, also had kind words to say about his character: “Absolute rave reviews from every hockey person I spoke to all year and every scout I spoke to at the NHL Combine about DiPietro’s character. As one Scout said to me, if you don’t find yourself rooting for this kid, then I don’t think you would ever root for anyone.”
Greg Balloch’s scouting report on DiPietro for Canucks Army has some great detail on what he will need to work on to become an NHL goaltender:
“Goaltenders that have a similar frame achieve success by beating passes on their feet. DiPietro, on the other hand, has an initial tendency to slide across. The downside of that is not just the fact that he is down in the butterfly early, reducing his size, but it also means that he loses the ability to move laterally back the other way if there is a returning pass. At 6-foot-1, he’ll need to play more aggressively than other larger goaltenders, and the ability to hold his edges is something he is required to master moving forward.”
All told, DiPietro is a promising young goaltender with a tendency to come through with big performances in big games. He’ll need to refine his aggressive style, but his focus and determination should give Canucks fans plenty of hope that he can make the necessary changes.