Top 25 Under 25: #21 Daniel Altshuller

Following the development of a goalie can be maddening to some fans because their performance always seems to vary on a year-to-year basis and you can never really predict how they'll turn out. This is why a lot of fans want their teams to avoid taking goalies early in drafts unless there's an elite prospect out there or something of that nature. For the Hurricanes, goaltender isn't a need right now but it could be a few years down the road. Fans got a taste of what life without Cam Ward is like last year when he missed half of the season with an injury and it wasn't pretty. Part of that was due to sub-par performance by their back-ups, but it did show the impact goaltending can have on a team

This is why the Hurricanes need to plan for life after Ward and acquire someone who can possibly take over for him when he moves on. The only problem with drafting a goaltender relates to my earlier statement about how volatile their performance is. Goalies are tough to figure out and their performance at 18-19 years of age isn't going to be indicative of their career performance. They either have to possess some sort of pedigree or have a skillset that separates them from the rest of the pack and even then, you still don't know what kind of player they'll be 5-6 years down the road when they'll be ready to contribute. 

It never hurts to use a mid/late round pick on a goaltender, though and the Hurricanes decided to follow down tis path in the 2012 draft by using two of their draft picks on goalies, one of which was Daniel Altshuller. It will be awhile before we know if Altshuller becomes the Hurricanes "goalie of the future" or if he'll have an NHL career at all, but his raw tools and track record is pretty solid so far. He's a big goalie at 6'4" and can be a very solid positional goalie based on size alone. He's also very aggressive and has a tendency to challenge shooters, which can get him into trouble at times, but he can also make some pretty remarkable saves with his quick reaction time and big frame. Altshuller turned only 19 last week, so he still has a lot way to go, but I think it's fair to say that his development took a step forward last year.

Daniel Altshuller
Season Age Team Lge GP Min GA SO GAA W L T Svs Pct
2009-10 15 Nepean Raiders CJHL 1 60 2 0 2 0 1 0 45 0.957
2010-11 16 Nepean Raiders CCHL 43 2515 135 1 3.22 19 13 10 1307 0.906
2011-12 17 Oshawa Generals OHL 30 1756 104 0 3.55 11 16 3 940 0.900
2012-13 18 Oshawa Generals OHL 58 3363 147 3 2.62 36 18 2 1464 0.909

Stats taken from HockeyDB

When the Canes drafted him, he was had only 30 games of OHL experience with a .900 save percentage. This year, he was a workhorse as the Oshawa Generals starting goaltender. Altshuller played in 58 games, appearing in quite a few back-to-backs in the process, and remained their starting goalie throughout the playoffs. He also improved his save percentage from .900 to .909 and his goals against average went from over three to 2.62. I'm a little hesitant on using those stats as the only source of judgment, but it looks like Altshuller improved on last season and is making progress as a goalie.

Being younger than a lot of starters, I think Altshuller handled himself well last season. Seeing how he posted the 9th highest save percentage in the OHL and improved from last year in just about every category. Next year will likely be even more important for him, though because the expectations are going to go up. We've seen Altshuller post good numbers as a workhorse starter as an 18-year old, so naturally we'd expect improvement next year if he plays in the same league, right? That's my mindset at least, but I never know what to expect with goalies since the team around them can have a big impact on their numbers.

Either way, Altshuller is a nice prospect to have and is heading in the right direction based on his performance last year. It's going to be awhile before the Hurricanes know what they have in him, though. Hardly any goalies are ready in their early 20's and he'll need a few sessions with coach Greg Stefan to help tone down his game a little. Judging from what I've seen, Altshuller can be a very strong positional goalie and while his ability to play the puck can be a plus, he needs to know how to control it so that he doesn't take himself out of position. That's something a lot of young goalies struggle with, so we'll see how his development goes as he gets closer to the professional rankings.