So far, 100 percent of prospects I’ve profiled in this season review series have had their contracts terminated by Nashville—one prospect, to be exact. Hopefully I’ll avoid making that a trend with my next installation, on goalie Tomáš Vomáčka.
For a look back at my process, check out my review of Niclas Westerholm above.
Goalie - UConn Huskies [NCAA] - 21
As a sophomore, and first-time starter, Tomáš Vomáčka started all but one of the Huskies’ 34 games, finishing with a 15-15-3 record and an 0.898 save percentage. It was another season behind a rocky UConn defense that led Vomáčka to allow the second-most goals in the country—103—while he also recorded the tenth most saves nationwide—910.
That heavy shot volume certainly didn’t help Vomáčka’s stat line, but his workload resulted in a respectable 3.37 goals-saved above average relative to his collegiate peers.
Relative to his peers in the organization, Vomáčka struggled with all qualities of shots. His 0.767 save percentage of high-danger shots indicates where he really struggled (which will be explored more with film below). A 0.913 save percentage of medium-danger shots is a bit of an improvement, and a 0.956 rate for low-danger shots is a good mark, just not something that measures up to the seasons goalies like Connor Ingram had.
You can explore the charts of my manually-tracked data in their entirety here.
Vomáčka is an exciting prospect with a propensity for highlight-reel saves, but that shouldn’t distract from deficiencies that his high volume of shots should help improve. Luckily, his strong positional details and impressive athleticism provide an edge that can set him apart.
In this clip, from our view, it may seem like his angle is off, but at ice level it’s appropriate and he uses that to quickly dispatch the long shot out of danger. Vomáčka then uses forceful pushes to cover the crease easily, maintain good upper-body positioning, and attack a shot from the point with a screen in front.
Here’s another example of those crease movements combined with his aggressive athletic ability. Notice his strength in moving from tracking (stand-up) position to monitoring the puck in a high-danger position, giving him a jump to make that initial kick save. Throughout the shift, Vomáčka rotates well between tight post coverage and challenging at the top of the crease, adjusting his angle back to the net when necessary given Northeastern’s active puck movement.
This shift shows another, more timid example of his puck tracking discipline throughout the entire play.
Vomáčka gets some help from his defense on this play but the leg strength displayed as he pushes to adjust to the high-danger rebound demonstrates his advanced athletic ability.
And another example, showing his cross-crease speed and agility.
Despite these highlights, Vomáčka isn’t immune to holes in his positioning. For as good as his puck tracking skills are, he can get caught up in poor angling as seen with the goal-allowed above. Vomáčka remains square to the play as the puck carrier enters the zone but his angle starts a tad off, forcing a longer stretch across the crease and exposing his five-hole.
In this play, I appreciate his active stick breaking up a pass to the slot; as he helps direct those pucks away from the net with better control, that skill will be help immensely at higher levels. Although he remains square to the play, Vomáčka’s tendency to position himself ‘above’ the puck in high-danger areas helps expose the top of the net.
But he still redeems himself with consistent coordination between his eyes and net coverage, allowing easy high-danger saves or breakups of busy plays as seen above.
And, of course, his lengthy reach with his leg pads and quick launch to cover high-danger chances will always keep the team in front of him in a close game.
Vomáčka certainly had a tough year, but the encouraging sign—on top of NHL-level athletic ability—is that I think the next steps involve simply tightening angling issues and full net coverage by settling down during high-danger plays. With those improvements, the Czech goalie could evolve into a legitimate AHL starter with NHL backup potential in a few years time.
Vomáčka is entering his junior year at UConn, where he’ll certainly control a near entirety of the workload for the Huskies once more. The question becomes whether Vomáčka can dominate enough behind an improved defensive structure to earn an entry-level contract next summer or if he’ll return for his senior year.