Florida Panthers 20 under 21: #16 - Ryan Bednard
Another contender in the GOTF category
At #16 on our countdown, we again find ourselves looking at a tall, young goaltending prospect, this time, from North America:
#16 - Ryan Bednard- Goalie- Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
Highest Rank: 12 Lowest Rank: 18
My previous entry in this series was a look at Swedish goaltending prospect Hugo Fagerblom, who is seemingly on his way down and out of the Panthers farm system. Ryan Bednard is a fellow 7th round draft choice of the Panthers (#206 overall) from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (a year after Fagerblom). It is once again worth noting that 7th round NHL draft picks do not often find their way to the “show,” but, goalies are different....
Bednard is a 19-year-old prospect from Michigan, weighing in at 195 lbs., and 6’5” tall. Once again, we see a player with prototypical NHL goalie-of-the-future size, and that is very much something running strongly in Bernard’s favor with the forthcoming “shrinking” of NHL goalie pads. Lets put a “check” in the “size” column.
This young goalie had a good final season in the USHL last season, playing for Youngstown. In 39 games played, he was able to post a 2.38 GAA and a .918 SV%, both of which were solid improvements over his numbers in the NAHL (for the Johnstown Tomahawks) in 2014-15. While in Johnstown that season, Bernard made the NAHL all-rookie team. With Youngstown, in 2015-16, he also badly outplayed fellow Phantoms goalie Colin DeAugustine (who is undrafted but will play at Mercyhurst University in NCAA Division 1 hockey next season).
Bednard was 8th in the USHL in save percentage, and 9th in goals against average last season, out of 35 goalies who played more than 10 games. Interestingly, he did this on Youngstown, a team that did not make the USHL playoffs last season.
This season will see Bednard start his first year of NCAA hockey, at Bowling Green University. He will likely sit much of this season behind returning goalie Chris Nell, but there is no rush to bring this goaltender along what with the logjam the Cats have at goalie in the professional ranks. Hockey’s Future had this to say about him:
Long-term Bednard has the tools to be a professional goalie and should have the time to develop during his college career.
A rather promising assessment, to be sure. The scouting report when he signed with Bowling Green added this:
his size alone is appealing but he’s a very athletic kid who gets around the net with no problems and fronts much of what is thrown at him
He is known for a superb work ethic as well as his quickness, and both were on full display at Panthers Development Camp this summer. For now, the Panthers can afford to be extremely patient with this young goalie. With Roberto Luongo and James Reimer both signed long-term, and the team looking for places to get games for Sam Brittain and Colin Stevens, there is no room for anymore goalies in the professional ranks.
Importantly, Bednard has shown improvement and he will be permitted to develop at his own pace at Bowling Green. Over the next 3-4 years, Panther fans will have the opportunity to see if he can set himself apart from competitors like Evan Cowley and Samuel Montembeault. Perhaps most importantly, for both Bednard and the Panthers, and unlike Fagerblom, he has not played himself out of contention. With that said, there is not much to go on yet, but Ryan Bednard is worth keeping an eye on for the next several years.