Goaltending, an aspect to the team that everyone once thought Calgary was doomed in, is now turning into one of the bright spots for the Flames. The duo of Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo have done amazing things for us this season and stole quite a few games for us this season. That along with Joni Ortio's impressive five game stint with the Flames has brought stability to the goalie position for the Flames after Miikka Kiprusoff's departure.
With that being said, there are still two goalies in our system that haven't played in the pros yet, one of them being Mason McDonald. Just two weeks ago, McDonald was named the second star of the the week in the QMJHL for winning both games he played, one of which was a 2-0 win against Sherbrooke. He also maintained a GAA of 1.00 and a save percentage of .971.
Born: April 23, 1996 (Age 18)
Height: 6'4'' (193 cm)
Weight: 186 lbs (84 kg)
Draft History: 2014 - 2nd Round, 34th overall by the Calgary Flames
Prior to being drafted in 2014 McDonald played for Canada in the U18 World Championships where he helped Canada win the gold medal. He played in six out of the seven games and finished with a record of 4-0-2 along with a GAA of 1.94 and a save percentage of .930, some pretty impressive numbers.
In McDonald's first couple of seasons with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan his stats were not pretty, mainly because he was a backup and his team finished near the bottom of the standings. Halfway through the 2013-2014 season, McDonald was traded to the Charlottetown Islanders where he was given a bigger role and his stats slightly improved. Even through all this, scouts knew that he was a good goalie playing for a bad team.
This year McDonald is holding down his position as starting goalie on the Charlottetown Islanders who currently sit at third in their division, mainly because McDonald's been lights out. He may also be with Team Canada for the 2016 World Junior Championships considering neither Zach Fucale nor Eric Comrie will be eligible for the tournament and he has been successful in past world junior tournaments.
Mason McDonald Highlights:
There's no question that nowadays hockey goalies are required to have a big frame with the average hovering around 6'2''. With this being said, McDonald's height of 6'4'' gives him a huge advantage in covering as much of the net as he can and having good positioning, something that not every goalie can do as well as him. Much of this is credited to McDonald's overall athleticism and great lateral movement which helps him stop shots on breakaways and one-timers, as seen in the video. McDonald likes to play at the top of the crease and challenge shooters, but he has the smarts to know when to stay back and not get over-aggressive.
He is also solid with his pads; you will rarely see a low shot get past McDonald and this is partially aided by the fact that he is 6'4''. One more thing that his size helps him with is covering up for his mistakes, because he tends to make unorthodox saves in some situations.
With all due respect to Mason McDonald's skill and how he plays, it should be noted that he does give up too many dangerous rebounds on some simple shots. Not just low shots that go off his pads, but the main problem is probably the shots that come off his glove and right back into play. It would be good for his development if he could just polish up that part of his game.
For the most part McDonald has the ability to control low shots and ones that go off his blocker, but it's still something he can improve as I did see a decent amount of goals go in through rebounds off his pads or blocker. This leads to McDonald making saves in awkward positions and it's just another area he should polish up to be more successful when he makes the jump to pro hockey.
Just like rebound control, McDonald tends to struggle with consistency from time to time. He could steal the game one night, but completely blow it for his team the next game. This is something that a lot of goalies at the junior level struggle with and McDonald is no exception; it normally gets exposed at the pro level how well they deal with it and if they can truly perform night in and night out.
Luckily for us, McDonald's weaknesses are not as serious as they may seem (I apologize if I made it seem like they were) or at least not as much of a concern as it is for other goalies his age.
Overall, McDonald's got everything needed to be a successful goalie in the NHL: size, reflexes, and the ability to make big saves. After all, he was the first goalie selected in the draft for a reason and that is why we should be looking forward to how he develops and matures over the next few years. We all know that as of right now Joni Ortio is the best goalie prospect in our system, but McDonald is a great plan B in case Ortio doesn't turn out to be as good as expected.
Comparables: Semyon Varlamov, Steve Mason, Jimmy Howard