Birthdate: 07/31/1995 (20)
Acquired: 4th round selection (#92 overall) 2013 NHL Entry Draft
2014-15 Team/League: University of Denver (NCAA)
Size: 6'4", 201 pounds
Contract Status: Unsigned (drafted 2013)
Although the Panthers don't have one sure, standout prospect who has claimed the status of "goaltender of the future", Evan Cowley seems to be one of the front-runners, having looked solid in every camp he's appeared in while providing solid goaltending for the University of Denver Pioneers.
Cowley spent his first collegiate season backing up Sam Brittain and last season the 20-year-old split time with Tanner Jailiet, an undrafted free agent. A .924 save percentage is a solid number, but a 20-game sample size isn't quite big enough to be drawing reliable conclusions from. With that in mind, LBC reached out to Greg Balloch of In Goal Media, to give us a goaltender's view of Cowley, complete with scouting report and an assessment of his true potential.
(Note: Greg recently released his Top 50 Goaltending Prospects for 2015-2016, which I highly recommend taking a look at. He references the list several times in his answers.)
LBC: What is Evan Cowley's ceiling?
Cowley's ceiling is tough to tell at this point. Being chosen to skate at USA national development program camps obviously shows that their scouts are high on him, and I have really liked what I have seen from him on video. The only problem is that I haven't seen a ton recently because he hasn't played a lot.
He did quite well in the NAHL, but he has physically grown a lot since those days - and his game has changed to reflect that. He lacks some maturity in his movements, and his execution of a few different techniques suffers as a result. For example, when he moves laterally, he opens up quite a bit in the five hole. Also, when he's behind a play, he tends to reach. When you're 6'4" like he is, the holes underneath your arm are even bigger. He's still adjusting to that size, and I'm confident that will be fixed in time when he becomes a stronger, more contained goaltender.
Consistency has also been the other issue with Cowley. Like I mentioned in my top-50 prospects list, 3 of his 9 wins came with a shutout. If he can repeat his performance more often, the results will reflect that. Right now there is too much fluctuation from a game to game basis, which shows that there is still a lot of work to do. When he's tracking the puck well, he's very contained, keeps the games pretty boring because he's able to hold onto the puck more often. When he's not tracking well, that's when he begins to reach for pucks and opens up large holes. Great shooters will pick you apart if that happens.
With the frame he has, and the flashes of ability to track the puck at a high-end level - I remain pretty high on Cowley. I could see him developing into an NHL goaltender if he keeps trending at the rate he's going at. Hopefully he does well and is able to play in at least 35-40 games next season. That would really help his development.
LBC: If you were in charge of his development, what aspects of his game would you want to keep, and which would you want him to improve on?
He needs to realize what his tendencies are when he's not tracking the puck well. As a big dude, he needs to be extra aware, because it can get ugly if he tries to resort to a blocking style. There are games when he's going to have to rely on his athleticism to get through it, and I don't think he's really been told/shown that yet. This is speculation from me, but he seems like a kid that could benefit from a little more desperation in his game. If he stops shutting down/trying to be a robot when he's not tracking the puck well, I think that could help his consistency.
LBC: Where do you see him on the organizational depth chart? (other FLA prospects include Sam Brittain, Colin Stevens, Hugo Fagerblom, and Samuel Montembeault)
He's neck-and-neck with Montembeault for 2nd on the depth chart, for me. Colin Stevens really impressed me for an undrafted guy, and I think the Panthers are pretty high on him as well. There are questions about Stevens' ceiling as well, but I think his final year at Union showed that he's pretty capable of carrying a team. I had him high on my list because he's closer to the NHL than anyone else that the Panthers have.
I'd probably rank Cowley ahead of Montembeault for now, just because Cowley is a little older, and we've seen what he can do for a few years now. Montembeault needs to have another strong year before he gets me on board the hype train, but the ceiling looks high.
Brittain was pretty close to being an honourable mention on my list, but I see him as an AHL guy - at least for the next 3-4 years. He looked good in his AHL stint last year, but struggled a bit in the ECHL. Still young, though.
Hugo Fagerblom is a bit on an enigma for me. I still haven't seen a lot of video on him, and the people I've talked to haven't seen much either. When I do hear something, it's usually VERY positive. It took a lot to keep him off the top 50 list, but I honestly didn't feel comfortable putting him on there because of the lack of information I have received. Still, the reports I do hear have been very, very good.
As Greg says, Cowley is still a bit on the raw side, and the more he grows into his 6'4" frame, the better off he will be in the net.
The presence of Roberto Luongo on the pro roster means that Cowley can take another 3-4 years to develop his game, either in college, or in the AHL.
Although there's no guarantee that Cowley will become a starter at the NHL level, the potential is there, and if he continues to improve each year, we may be looking at a netminder who can provide quality goaltending for a number of seasons.
Where We Voted for Cowley
Who We Voted 24th
|Juho Lammikko||Miguel Fidler||Samuel Montembeault||Sam Brittian||Corban Knight|