With the #38 pick in today's 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators selected Swedish goaltender Magnus Hellberg, a 6'5" keeper who should fit in well with fellow Scandinavian skyscrapers Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback.
How does he stack up against his fellow goaltending prospects? That's a bit murky. The Goalie Guild has a top 100 of all prospect goalies, which appears to be all non-NHL goalies. The 2011 draft eligible goalies are near the bottom, which makes sense since most of the list are AHL netminders. Per their latest list (warning: it takes some time to load) Hellberg is ranked ahead of John Gibson (#1 NA goalie, #92), Christopher Gibson (#2 NA goalie, #90), and even Samu Perhonen (#1 European goalie, #97) at 88th. I'm not sure what goes into their rankings; nor do I know how valid they are. But it's someone's opinion that they think Hellberg is superior to other draft-eligible netminders.
Hellberg plays with Altuma in Sweden's second division, and put up a .935 save percentage and 2.05 Goals Against Average in 31 games last season, with 5 shutouts. I wouldn't expect him to come over to North America for a while yet. Drafting goaltenders this high is always a dicey proposition, as the development process seems especially long and uncertain for them.
Currently behind Rinne and Lindback, the Predators have a pending free agent in Mark Dekanich, and prospects Chet Pickard, Jeremy Smith, and Atte Engren under contract. Hellberg presumably won't put pressure on any of those guys for at least a year or two.
What do you think of the Magnus Hellberg pick?
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