#AfterAuston: Carter Hart

For a while, we’ve been talking about how the goaltending situation for the Leafs is questionable at the top and lacking depth throughout. It’s certainly becoming the biggest weakness for the organization as they turn the corner in other areas, and this summer could be important in addressing it. 

Toronto hasn’t drafted a goaltender since Antoine Bibeau in 2013, and they really could stand to add a prospect from the junior ranks now.

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Enter Carter Hart, the top goaltending prospect eligible for this month’s draft.


First off, we quickly have to mention that Hart was just named the CHL goalie of the year. That doesn’t seem like a big deal at a glance because there are plenty of previous winners who never went on to become anything professionally, but it is notable since he’s a draft-eligible. That isn’t common. For a little bit of perspective, current NHLers Carey Price, Cam Ward, and Jake Allen have each won the award, but they all did it as draft-plus-two prospects. 

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As for Hart’s game itself, I’ll let some folks who study the position more weigh in. You’ll notice a common theme with Hart: his hockey sense and efficiency.

Here’s what Greg Balloch of InGoal Magazine had to say about Hart in the Nation Network draft profiles last month:

Those that have seen Hart play will know that he uses his modest frame very effectively. A student of both Shane Clifford and Dustin Schwartz, Hart is a highly-trained puck tracker. His ability to track, not just on the release of shots, but also for the purpose of movements around his crease, is one of the best to come out of the CHL in recent years. His ability to stay on top of pucks, even when moving laterally, is reminiscent of the similarly-sized Eric Comrie – a Tri-City Americans grad, and 59th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Although Comrie is much more refined, Hart has the same technical base that is specifically designed to translate into the pro game. That’s what scouts should really be looking for.

ESPN’s Corey Pronman has Hart at the top of this goalie class in his final top ten rankings, and here again, we get a mention of his smart approach to playing the position.

His knowledge of how to read the game and anticipate pucks and his proper positioning in the net, is high-end. Any scout you talk to about Hart comes back talking about how easy he makes it look, and how he never gets out of his technique on tough saves…Hart plays the odds more than taking away goals, and he does it very well.


Numbers are never even close to the be-all and end-all when it comes to junior-aged goaltenders, as we’ve seen with rankings and actual draft positions over the years. But Hart has them anyway. His 0.918 save percentage ranked fourth among WHL goalies with 40-or-more games played this past season, and his overall workload of 63 games played (in a 72-game season, mind you) was second only to Adin Hill of the Winterhawks. We should also note in the last two postseasons his numbers have climbed to 0.929 over 17 games for the Silvertips.

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Should the Leafs be interested?

Yes, the Leafs should be interested. They don’t have a goalie developing at the junior level and their whole situation at the position throughout the organization is a bit nerve-wracking. Justin Fisher talked about this last year and nothing has changed. Someone like Hart would give the organization’s goalie outlook a nice boost, and when you consider that the Leafs hold what now looks to be the 30th (from Pittsburgh), 31st, 57th (from Washington), and 62nd picks, they could have a chance to make that call on draft day. Hart should fall somewhere in that range.

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  • the leafs should draft multiple goalies. they haven’t drafted a goalie in 3 years and that horrible depth is showing. bibeau is no where near ready and neither is sparks. we’re in big trouble foe this positron. let’s all hope and pray hart somehow falls to the 2nd round.

    • magesticRAGE

      I get your concern, it’s more or less agreed upon in Leafdom. But it’s not wise to draft multiple goalie in the same draft, let alone 3. Dubas signed a young free agent in Kashmir Kaskisou, which might be better than drafting. If Hart is a Leaf, then they have two new goalies in the system at different stages, which is what we want. If there’s a good prospect in next year’s draft, I would stop there until they figure out what to do with Sparks and Bibeau.

  • FlareKnight

    Going back to 2009, an average of 3.3 goalies have been taken in the first two rounds. The drafts where a lot of goalies are taken tend to be drafts where the talent at forward and defense are quite shallow. 2015 on the other hand, where the talent at forward and defense was quite deep, only two goalies were taken in first two rounds. My thought with the 2016 draft is that the talent at forward and defense is quite deep (albeit not as deep as 2015). Why not wait until the end of the 2nd round to pick a goalie at the 56th pick instead of using the 29th/30th or 31st when there will likely still be high caliber forward and defense prospects still on the board. Hart, Fitzpatrick, Parsons, and Gustavsson all look decent enough and one of them will likely still be available at 56. To add to this, the expansion draft could create a buyers market for goalies anyhow, so even if all those goalies go prior to 56 we can still address goaltending in the offseason. We have another year of bernier regardless so it’s not like we’re in a huge hurry here.

  • silentbob

    Goaltending is the one position that should affect how a team drafts.

    Goaltending is so important, the development track is longer then other positions, and the potential is much harder to predict. Given these, I don’t think its a bad idea to take 1 goal a year in the draft, or at least 1 goal every other year.

  • FlareKnight

    Honestly the Leafs should pick one of the top goalies in the draft with one of their late first/early second picks. The system needs a huge boost.

    It is a long track position to be sure. The guy we draft isn’t going to be a factor for the team for 4-5 years, but it’s a position we need to reinforce for the future.

    The short term also requires attention. Trades will probably be the name of the game there to find the guy we need and then we just hope the guys we draft in this draft and future drafts are good.

  • ScottWC

    I’ve been doing a lot of watching and reading on the goaltenders eligible for this draft and I really think it’s much smarter to target two goalies in the later rounds.

    Two goalies in particular that I feel compelled to mention are:

    3rd rd, 72nd pick: G Colton Point (Carleton Place, CCHL)

    He’s ranked fourth on Greg Balloch’s top ten goalies pick.

    He’s got size (6’4″ 220 lbs) and has shown signs of being an elite puck-tracker.

    Those are two things that make not only Matt Murray so good but a lot of younger goalies in the NHL who mention to find success.

    You need to be able to effectively track the puck to be successful in the NHL.

    5th rd, 122nd pick: G Stephen Dhillon (Niagara Ice Dogs, OHL)

    He’s got a size (6’4″) and quickness combination that is hard to find with big goalies. He moves like he’s much smaller, basically.

    He served as Alex Nedeljkovic’s understudy this season at Niagara which I can’t help but think helped him.

    And he’s also a few days short of being eligible for NEXT year’s draft, which means that he’ll likely get an extra year of development in junior.

    They’re two somewhat off the board picks but I think they’re worth taking where I have them for the Leafs.

    If you look back at previous drafts, a ton of goalies go in rounds 3-4-5, and since the leafs have early picks in those rounds, it seems like the right time for them to take a couple of goalies with a ton of potential.