My Thoughts on the Bantam Draft
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
by Brad Kirkwood, TPG Coach
I want to address a question I often get asked at conferences, coaching clinics, rinks, and in “general goalie circles” regarding the Bantam draft and goaltenders getting, or not getting drafted into major junior.
Before we go further, please know that this is only my opinion and may not reflect the thoughts of other TPG coaches and will touch on some development pieces as that is what we do.
First off, specifically speaking about 14 or 15 year old goaltenders, it is too young. The blog should simply end here.
I have received numerous calls from parents following the draft (because the child, yes I said child, as at 14 you are, often doesn't have the maturity yet to call me themselves) asking if I will speak to their goaltender because on draft day they were not selected and want to quit playing hockey thinking they are not good enough and will never “make it”.
Some of these kids don’t even have hair under their arms yet and they want to quit what has been their heart and soul and has brought them joy and friendships for some 10 years of their ripe old life because they didn’t get drafted??
I get it, at that age the social scene is the be all and end all. Social media (again in my opinion) has taken and ruined the fun of the game for these kids. Everything is now a competition and their life (even at 14) is on display for all to judge and comment on. So called “experts” on social media that are not paid and have no affiliation to any team are “ranking” and posting who the “top players and goalies are” based solely on online stats with 0 knowledge of the goaltending position - Got off track there but if you are not paid by a team or agency to scout, please, respectively get off social media!
At 14 and 15, these kids are about what is happening only right now. Their world is about being cool, fitting in, the number of followers, who has “liked" you on social media platforms. It about social acceptance.
But back to the topic at hand - Let’s look at if you DO get drafted.
Pretty cool on the day for goalie and their parents (and us coaches too!). There may be some pride, a sense of accomplishment, some bragging rights, some acceptance from your peers and some validation that you are a good goalie because Team X chose YOU!
Now what happens?
You are called, congratulated, and made to feel great from Team X you are their guy!
See you at our rookie camp kid!
How does Team X PREPARE YOU as an individual athlete to be ready as you enter this next step in “making it”?
Do they send their goalie coach to work with you? Probably not.
Do they fly you or pay your way to work with their goalie coach? Unlikely.
Do they send who you are working with in the off season notes from the scouts on where you need to improve to reach that level? Not that I have ever heard.
Why wouldn’t they? You are their “guy” are you not?? Are you not the most important position in all of sports?
How do they prepare you to compete for a spot on Team X?
Keep in mind you are now on a list so very few other teams (the hundreds out there) rarely even watch you over the next season or two. In my opinion, these are the years when a goalie can really mature and take his/her game to next level. Yes, as always, there are rare exceptions to the rule.
What if Team X has a solid 1-2 punch in goal and those goalies are still only 17 and 18 years old and will be there for a few more years? When, if ever, will you really get a shot of actually playing for Team X.
Getting drafted does not give you a roster spot. It means you get to go to camp and prove yourself.
I want to pump our tires at Top Prospects Goaltending for a just a second. We do care about these goalies as individuals. We do speak to our goalies and expect them to have a voice during sessions based on junior/pro team’s feedback, if it is provided. We will even contact teams to see what they want from the goalie to have them prepared for that camp.
It has taken time for the NHL to see a need for a goaltender development coach position, and with little budgets at the junior level not sure this will ever happen, but this is ONE sure way we as a company can help prepare you ahead of time.
A study was conducted a few years ago stating that more kids were quitting hockey throughout Canada at the age of 13 and 14 and they were looking into as to why. I have to wonder if this draft, social media, and parent pressure could be some of the reasons?
What if Griffen Outhouse, Jack McNaughton, Roddy Ross, Bailey Brkin, Beck Warm, Curtis Meger, or Ethan Anderson quit when they were not drafted? These are just a few that come quickly to mind and are recent. Never mind the ones I am missing or the multiple ones in the QMJHL and OHL.
What if the many goaltenders we work, or have worked with, that went on to Junior A, NCAA, European Pro quit because they didn’t get drafted?
A step further. What if Cam Talbot, Glenn Healy, Jon Casey, Chico Resch, Jonas Hiller, Antti Niemi, Niklas Backstrom, Dwayne Roloson, Sergei Bobrovsky, Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour or our very own Jason LaBarbera quit after not being drafted?
Not getting drafted in the Bantam Draft is just a detour, not a dead end to where you want to get to in the end.
To those drafted congratulations.