Now the Czech Republic is far from a goaltending hot bed, but could David Rittich have started a trend?
Now for those of you who don’t know, Dominik Hasek got his first games in the NHL at the age of 26, something very uncommon now adays. Rittich was a couple of years younger at 23 when he made the transition over, but his time in the AHL has been well spent and helped turn him into a reliable, capable and piss cheap back-up goalie in the NHL.
Late blooming goalies is something that we do continue to see, but Rittich only played two season in the Czech Extraliga and his first one was sub par at best. So looking at goalies currently playing in the CZ and guys who would be considered homegrown through and through I’ve picked out a few I’d like to see get a shot in the AHL and eventually the NHL.
Dominik Frodl, the 1996 born netminder from Prague has proved to be the best young goaltender in the WSM Liga for years. In the past three years with Slavia Praha his SV% is .944, .942, .928. Add that on playoff performances with .947, .945, .923 and you have a stud in the making. He’s only 6′ tall and a bit unconventional, but this season in the top league with Plzen could be his bridge to the NHL/AHL.
Two other guys that look like they could have potential in North American are Filip Novotný (Karlovy Vary) and Pavel Kantor (Mlada Boleslav). Both goalies are born in 1991 so the window could be closing, but Novotný has been a stud throughout his career in the Czech. His lone hiccup came in the KHL, but I put very little weight on a goalies performance in Russia. He’s been a stud with one of the top clubs in Czech Rep Sparta Praha and ripped up the WSM this last year to get his team promoted. Just look at these stats from last season and tell me he’s not ready for a new challenge like North America.
- Czech2 Best GAA (1.28)
- Czech2 Best SVS% (.949)
- Czech2 Most Shutouts (7)
- Czech2 Playoffs Best GAA (0.87)
- Czech2 Playoffs Best SVS% (.969)
Kantor is an interesting tendy too. His numbers on mediocre teams in the Extraliga are very similar to Rittich’s, but when put on a top team like Mountfield Kantor was a stud (1.8GAA .924S% in 45 gp). He put up great numbers in the European Champions Hockey League and with a good season at Mlada Boleslav an NHL team would have to take a serious look at him.
|HC Vitkovice||Champions HL||3||1.00||.957|
NHL teams looking for a solid AHL goaltender with potential to be a very cheap low risk back-up might want to look in the Czech Rep. I think some good options are floating around the east.
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