It is the most-scrutinized position in hockey. And if that isn’t enough, the goalie position is the toughest to project as far as overall ability and future development goes.
At any rate, ahead of the 2019-2020 Ontario Hockey League season, we take a look between the pipes of the 10 teams — alphabetically — in the Western Conference.
ERIE OTTERS — Daniel Murphy has proven to be an unlikely catch for the Otters. Erie took the 2000 birth-year backstop in the 15th round with the 301st and final pick of the 2016 OHL priority selections draft.
And Murphy came into his own as the starter for an Erie team that missed the playoffs in 2018-2019. Facing a barrage of shots on a team that finished well below the .500 mark, Murphy had an even record of 20-20-2 to go with a 3.71 goals against average and .880 save percentage.
FLINT FIREBIRDS — Luke Cavallin is slated to return for his third season in Flint in 2019-2020 and the starting job is his for the taking with the graduation of Emanuel Vella.
A second-round pick of the Firebirds in 2017, the numbers on Cavallin have not been pretty, while keeping in mind that Flint has finished at the bottom of the Western Conference standings n each of the past two seasons.
Under siege for much of the 2018-2019 season, Cavallin, who has a 2001 birth date, had a record of 8-21-2 to go with a 5.22 goals against average and .864 save percentage.
GUELPH STORM — The reigning OHL champions will be in rebuild mode for the 2019-2020 season.
The Storm could opt to use one of its three overage spots on goalie Anthony Popovich, who backstopped Guelph to the OHL title with numbers that included a regular season record of 30-13-7 with a 3.29 goals against average and a save percentage of .899.
Also available is 2000 birth-year goalie Nico Daws, who was Popovich’s backup in 2018-2019 and posted a record of 10-5-3 with a 3.25 goals against average and .893 save percentage.
KITCHENER RANGERS — A recent trade with the Mississauga Steelheads set up the Rangers with their clear-cut starting goalie for 2019-2020.
2000 birth year tender — and National Hockey League draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings — Jacob Ingham was a workhorse for Mississauga in 2018-2019. Playing for a so-so team, Ingham racked up a record of 27-25-4 to go with a 3.41 goals against average and .890 save percentage.
The acquisition of Ingham will allow Kitchener to use overage goalie Luke Richardson as a trade chip. As the Rangers starter in 2018-2019, Richardson posted a record of 28-19-4 to go with a 3.52 goals against average and .890 save percentage.
LONDON KNIGHTS — 2000 birth-year goalie Jordan Kooy assumes the starter’s role in London for 2019-2020 with the graduation of Joseph Raaymakers.
An NHL prospect of the Vegas Knights, Kooy fashioned a record of 16-6-2 to go with a 2.87 goals against average and .908 save percentage on the Knight shift in 2018-2019.
OWEN SOUND ATTACK — A duo of 2001 birth-year goalies can return to guard the Attack net in 2019-2020.
Former second-round pick Mack Guzda saw the bulk of the action for Owen Sound in 2018-2019 and came away with a record of 20-19-4, complemented by a 3.63 goals against average and .878 save percentage.
Andrew McLean served as Guzda’s backup last season and produced a record of 11-10-1 to go with a 4.36 goals against average and .869 save percentage.
SAGINAW SPIRIT — There is the potential for plenty of net worth in Saginaw for the season ahead.
Ivan Prosvetov recently signed an entry-level, NHL contract with the Arizona Coyotes but the big goalie could return to Saginaw as an overage for what would be his second OHL season in 2019-2020.
The Russian-born Prosvetov put up monster numbers for the Spirit as an OHL rookie in 2018-2019, flashing a record of 36-11-3 to go with a 2.94 goals against average and .910 save percentage.
And fresh from a fine rookie season in 2018-2019 is 2002 birth-year backstop Tristan Lennox. As the understudy to Prosvetov in 2018-2019, Lennox — who was Saginaw’s second-round pick at the 2018 OHL draft — had a 7-2-1 record with a 2.79 goals against average and .907 save percentage.
SARNIA STING — There will be no shortages of goalies to choose from in Sarnia for 2019-2020.
2001 birth-year starter Ethan Langevin is fresh from a 2018-2019 season in which he registered an 18-15-3 record to go with a 3.76 goals against average and .878 save percentage.
Also Sting property is 2000 birth-year tender Cameron Lamour. A former third-round pick of Saginaw, Lamour split the 2018-2019 season between the Spirit and the Sting.
Lamour has a reputation of being a hot-and-cold goalie and his numbers in 2018-2019 were nothing to write home about. In all, between Saginaw and Sarnia, Lamour had a 6-16-2 record with a 4.80 goals against average and .850 save percentage.
Sarnia, though, invested in a big way for its net future by using its first-round pick, seventh overall, at this year’s OHL priority selections draft to take lanky puck-stopper Ben Gaudreau.
Gaudreau tended twine for the Great North Midget Hockey League champion North Bay Major Trappers in 2018-2019 and is widely seen as one of the best Ontario-born goalie prospects in many years.
Athletic, agile and skilled, there is the added bonus that Gaudreau carries a reputation of being a first-rate, character kid.
SOO GREYHOUNDS — It is a crowded crease in the Soo as the Greyhounds look to replace 1999 birth-year goalie Matthew Villalta, who is expected to turn pro within the Los Angeles Kings farm system.
During this off-season, the Soo traded for overage goalie Christian Propp, getting him from the North Bay Battalion. Propp had a record of 24-24-2 with a 3.98 goals against average and .893 save percentage with North Bay in 2018-2019.
The Greyhounds also have 2001 birth-year returnee Ethan Taylor, who was Villalta’s backup in 2018-2019. As a rookie in 2018-2019, Taylor put up a 10-1-3 record with a 3.24 goals against average and .894 save percentage.
The Soo also has a pair of 2002 birth-year possibilities in local product Noah Zeppa and 2019 import draft selection Nick Malik.
Zeppa was the most valuable player in the Great North Midget Hockey League in 2018-2019 while tending twine for the lowly Soo Major Thunderbirds.
WINDSOR SPITFIRES — The main man in the Windsor net for 2019-2020 figures to be import Kari Piiroinen.
The Finnish goalie, who has a 2001 birth date, put up modest numbers for the Spitfires in 2018-2019 with a 7-14-4 record to go with a 4.23 goals against average and .875 save percentage.
PHOTO: Goalie Ben Gaudreau was taken by the Sarnia Sting in the first round of the 2019 OHL priority selections draft.