By Thomas Harrington
A third-round pick from 2018, Lukas Dostal spent last season playing in the Liiga league and becoming Anaheim’s top goaltending prospect.
Dostal played for Ilves of the Liiga league last season. He appeared in 43 games and had a record of 27-8-6 with a 1.78 goals-against average, a .928 save percentage, and three shutouts. His 27 wins led Liiga, while he was second in goals-against average and third in save percentage. Dostal had a strong start to the season, going 6-1-1 in October, and maintained a high level of play through the course of the season. For his efforts, he was awarded the Ylonen Award for the best goaltender in the Liiga league.
Dostal only had one real blemish on his record last season, the World Junior Championships. He was the Czech Republic’s starter, but only played in three games and had a 1-2 record with a 4.03 goals-against average and a .878 save percentage. Despite the poor numbers at the tournament, I don’t find them that concerning. Top players have bad games and bad tournaments, and he was sick for part of the tournament as well.
It’s unclear how much being ill impacted his play, but compared to the numbers he put up at the World Juniors the year prior (a 1.25 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage), I’m inclined to think that it certainly played a role in his poor tournament.
I had two expectations for Dostal last season, and he met both of them. First, I wanted him to start for the Czech Republic at the World Juniors. Despite the poor tournament, he was their starter. Secondly, after getting only 10 games with Ilves the year prior and putting up solid numbers with them, I wanted Dostal to spend the entire season there and put up better numbers. Well, 43 games and being the Liiga’s top goaltender certainly did just that.
This season, Dostal is actually one of Anaheim’s prospects who is already playing, as he has been loaned back to Ilves. However, it was recently announced that he has left them and is heading back to North America. My expectations for Dostal will largely depend on what Anaheim does for the backup role. If Ryan Miller comes back, then Dostal will be fighting with Anthony Stolarz for playing time in San Diego.
However, if Stolarz is promoted to the backup position behind John Gibson, then Dostal could end up as San Diego’s starter. So my expectation for him is to just play as much hockey as possible with the Gulls and put up solid numbers. If he becomes the starter, that’s great, but I’ll be happy with him splitting time in net with Stolarz and putting up a solid goals-against average and save percentage.
Depending on how this year goes, Dostal does have a shot at making his Anaheim debut this season, but I don’t think he’ll have a shot at regular NHL action as a backup goaltender until the 2021-2022 season, or even the year after that depending on when Ryan Miller retires. I think he’ll probably serve as Gibson’s backup for at least a season or two, and then the Ducks will have to decide what to do.
If Dostal is putting up great numbers and they think he can be their future starter, then they may explore trading Gibson. However, if Gibson is still the star of the show and Dostal hasn’t been able to establish himself, they may decide to move Dostal. Or, if both are playing well, the Ducks could also just keep both and have a strong tandem in net.
Dostal is currently signed to an entry-level contract and it will begin this season. He’ll be a restricted free agent in three years, and he’ll hopefully have shown enough to be Gibson’s backup on a full-time basis. If he has done that, he can expect a one-way deal in three years.
The next prospect update will be on Max Comtois.
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December 27th, 2020