By Thomas Harrington
After being passed over in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Anaheim Ducks chose goalie Garrett Metcalf in the sixth round of the draft last year. Last season, Metcalf split time between the Madison Capitols and the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL.
Last year was a tale of two seasons for Metcalf. With Madison, he didn’t put up great numbers but was playing regular minutes and showing why Anaheim decided to select him in the draft. With Waterloo, he struggled to get playing time and ended up not playing very well.
With the Capitols, Metcalf played in 27 games and had a record 10-13-1-1 with a save percentage of .907, a 3.19 goals against average, and one shutout. Overall, he faced 850 shots and made 771 saves in Madison. Not fantastic numbers, but certainly serviceable in the USHL, especially on a team that finished eighth in the eastern conference and struggled through much of last season. Metcalf allowed two goals or less in 11 of his 27 games with the Capitols.
In Waterloo, Metcalf could have appeared in as many as 23 games, but only suited up nine times with his new squad. He had a record of 3-3-1-1 with a .883 save percentage, a 3.26 goals against average, and one shutout. With the Black Hawks, Metcalf’s play was much more up and down that it had been with the Capitols, leading to decreased ice time. Waterloo made the playoffs as the third best team in the western conference of the USHL. The Black Hawks lost in the second round of the playoffs and Metcalf didn’t make it into any games.
This coming season Metcalf will move on from the USHL and join the college ranks at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Oddly enough, Anaheim’s newest goaltender Kevin Boyle graduated from UMass Lowell last year. With Boyle gone, Metcalf will likely share the net with sophomore Christoffer Hernberg next season.
Next year, I’d like to see Metcalf have a much more consistent season. He doesn’t need to be the best freshman goalie in the NCAA, he just needs to have a solid first year of college hockey. The good news for Metcalf is that of the four years Boyle played in the NCAA, his two best years came at UMass Lowell. His numbers saw a significant increase in quality after he switched schools. Hopefully playing at Umass Lowell will have a similar impact on Metcalf. If UMass Lowell had a more established goaltender, I’d expect Metcalf to be the backup for a year or two before looking to take over the starting role. Since Hernberg is going to be a sophomore however, it means the battle for the starter is wide open. It’s possible that Metcalf could grab it. However, I think it’s more likely the two young goalies form more of a tandem and split most of the games next season, with one of them getting more time later in the season.
Goaltending is probably the most difficult position in the NHL to predict. Right now, Metcalf doesn’t look like he will be an NHL starter, but that could change over the next few seasons. What is clear is that Metcalf is still several years away from being NHL ready. Thankfully, with John Gibson signed to a very reasonable deal for the next few seasons, the Ducks have no reason to rush him. He’ll stay in the NCAA for the foreseeable future. If his play can improve at UMass Lowell, I would expect the Ducks to sign him to a contract and bring him to San Diego, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he spent all four years at college before making that jump. However, if he struggles in the NCAA like he did in the USHL last year, then I would expect the Ducks to let Metcalf become a free agent.
My next prospect update will be on Brent Gates, Jr.
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