By Thomas Harrington
A third round pick from 2018, Lukas Dostal played for the Liiga and AHL this past season, making his North American debut with the Gulls.
With the start of the AHL season delayed, Dostal started the season playing for Ilves in the Liiga, and he absolutely dominated overseas. He was spectacular with Ilves in the 2019-2020 season, and was even better with them this past season. He appeared in 11 games, and had a 10-1 record with a 1.64 goals against average, a .941 save percentage, and one shutout. In October, he was named the Liiga’s player of the month.
Once he came to North America, Dostal’s strong play continued with the Gulls. He played in 24 games and had a record of 15-9 with a 2.87 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. Twelve of those wins came in regulation and three in overtime. Dostal was San Diego’s starter, and backup Olle Eriksson Ek was the only other goaltender to play in more than 10 games. His .916 save percentage was fourth in the AHL, and second among rookie goaltenders.
In the Pacific Division Tournament, he started all three games and had a 1-2 record with a 2.55 goals against average and a .935 save percentage. Dostal was among San Diego’s most consistent players all season, but he was easily their best player in that three-game series.
Dostal met the expectations I set for him before the season started, and that was to play as much hockey as possible. At the time, I wasn’t sure if Anthony Stolarz would spend most of the season in the AHL, taxi squad, or NHL. Well, he spent most of the season on the taxi squad, with some time in both San Diego and Anaheim, giving Dostal the chance to become San Diego’s starter.
My expectations for Dostal this coming season are simple: to be San Diego’s starter and improve on the numbers from his rookie year. He has a chance to make his NHL debut as well, but I’m not going to expect that from him just yet. Ryan Miller has decided to hang up the skates, leaving the backup role open for Stolarz. With Stolarz in the NHL, Dostal will likely see upwards of 30 games played, if not 40. If John Gibson or Stolarz gets hurt, then Dostal could get called up, but it probably won’t be for more than a few games.
I think Dostal plays most, if not all, of this season in the AHL, and then has a shot at the backup role in the 2022-2023 season. Stolarz is under contract for that season, but I think two seasons in the minors should be enough for Dostal to be ready to play against NHL competition on a regular basis.
However, if the Ducks want Dostal to continue to get as much playing time as possible, they may keep him in San Diego for one more year, but call him up to Anaheim every now and then to make sure he’s seeing some NHL competition. Another possibility is that Stolarz struggles this season or is claimed by Seattle in the expansion draft. Either could happen, leaving the door open for Dostal to fight for the backup role as early as this season.
Dostal has two years remaining on his entry-level deal, and assuming he’s progressed as expected and is Gibson’s backup, he’ll be re-signed. I don’t think it will be for a long term deal; it usually doesn’t make a ton of sense to throw a lot of term and money at a backup goaltender, but I think anywhere from two to four years would make sense. The Ducks would then have a couple of years to figure out if Dostal is their future in net after Gibson, or if they want to continue to have Gibson be the starter for the foreseeable future.
The next prospect update will be on Jack Badini.
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July 19th, 2021