The St. Louis Blues have signed goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick to a three-year entry-level contract on Sunday. The 19-year-old, St. John’s, Newfoundland native goaltender has spent the past three years playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Blues selected Fitzpatrick 59th overall at the 2016 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
The Blues have agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract with goalie Evan Fitzpatrick. pic.twitter.com/dcAs7pjsoc
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 26, 2017
In his time with the Phoenix, Fitzpatrick worked his way up the depth chart, from the last goaltender spot all the way up the the starting position. This season, he put up an .899 save percentage. The team did not make the QMJHL playoffs this season, making Fitzpatrick now eligible to join the Blues at the NHL level. The Blues would most likely send Fitzpatrick to their American Hockey League affiliate- the Chicago Wolves. However, as of right now, the team has yet to make a decision on where Fitzpatrick will end up.
Fitzpatrick, does however have one year left of major juniors eligibility and can not play in the AHL to start next season. With the Wolves already have two solid goalies in place, it should not be a huge issue. Expect to see Fitzpatrick in Sherbrooke for one more season before going pro.
The 6’3″, 206 pound goalie has had a decent juniors career. He has had .884, .896, and a .899 save percentage in each of his three seasons, and has had a goals against average of 3.42, 3.42, and 3.46 in each of his three years. He also has four shutouts. In total, he has played in 135 games. With another junior year on the horizon and a potential AHL debut in two seasons, Fitzpatrick will have plenty of time to improve his game before making an NHL debut.
Scouting Report by Ben Kerr
Evan Fitzpatrick is a hybrid style netminder. With his excellent size, he covers a lot of net. He takes advantage of this by coming out to challenge shooters, and by having an excellent sense on his angles. He’s also very technically sound for a young netminder, with rebound control not often seen in someone his age. Fitzpatrick understands how to kick low shots into the corners and to swallow up those that come in hight. He keeps himself square to the puck at almost all times, even when making saves on second chance opportunities. Fitzpatrick takes away the bottom of the net with his quick legs. He gets down into the butterfly quickly and pops right back up.
He also has an excellent glove hand, taking away the top of the net. Fitzpatrick tracks the puck well and his lateral movement is excellent. He has an excellent push with his legs, giving him strong lateral movement. His strong legs and good skating allow him to play the aggressive style and challenge shooters.
Fitzpatrick has extremely good athleticism. Even if out of position, Fitzpatrick never gives up on a play, and makes some highlight reel saves as a result. In addition to good technique, he has extremely fast reflexes, and the competitiveness to never give up on a play. Fitzpatrick shows a good demeanor. He stays calm in his net, and his coolness in the face of heavy pressure shows good leadership, and is something his teammates lean on. If he does give up a bad goal, he has the ability to quickly forget about it and be ready to make the next big save. He could use some work on playing the puck in his own end, developing the ability to make a strong outlet pass to his defenders could help his game.
Goaltenders are difficult to predict, as they seem to blossom later than forwards and defencemen, however it would appear that Evan Fitzpatrick has all the skills necessary to make it in the NHL. He will be a bit of a long-term investment as he will likely spend the next two years in the QMJHL, followed by some time at the AHL level before he is ready. With the right development though, he could be a franchise goaltender. In terms of style, Fitzpatrick’s game is reminiscent of Roberto Luongo, but this is a style comparison only and not one based on talent.