Two years ago, few and far between would have predicted that Everett Silvertips sophomore Carter Hart would develop into one of the top goalie prospects of the 2016 NHL draft class. He wasn’t chosen in the 2013 WHL bantam draft until the eighth round and spent the majority of his 15-year-old season at the minor midget level.
Hart, 17, feels he falls into the late-bloomer category. It simply took him a little bit longer than some of his peers to hit his stride.
“I think I’m a late-bloomer,” says Hart, whom NHL Central Scouting Service ranked as a B-list prospect (a potential second or third rounder) in its early projection. “It took me longer to develop than some other goalies. I just stuck to the grind and kept working hard and it has been paying off.”
The Sherwood Park, Alta., native hit the ground running in his rookie season last year. In addition to posting a 2.29 average and .915 save percentage throughout 30 games, he stole veteran netminder Austin Lotz’s starting job in the latter half of the season.
“There are a lot of reasons for why last year went well,” says Hart, who has a 2.87 average and .911 save percentage in six games this season. “I ended up with a great organization that helped me get adjusted and just gave me the right setup here. I owe credit to (goalie coach) Shane Clifford who has worked with me and helped me develop and my billets were great and made it easier to move away from home. I also think I worked hard in practice and it paid off in the games.”
With a 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame, Hart is by no means undersized in the blue paint, but he is a couple of inches shorter than most goalies who elicit attention from NHL scouts. He is well aware of the slight concern over his height, as he’s made adjustments in his game to complement his size.
“I have to come out to the top of the crease to cut down angles,” he says. “I also have to be quicker and have the legs to adjust quickly to a play. There are adjustments here and there that I have to make.”
1. How would you describe yourself as a goalie?
“I’m calm and relaxed when I play. I like to have fun and am someone who is patient out there and I am a competitive goalie.”
2. Do you look up to any goalies in the NHL?
“I have two: (Montreal Canadiens’) Carey Price and (Washington Capitals’) Braden Holtby. They have similar games and are calm in the crease. They also play hard day in and day out.”
3. Who’s your favourite NHL team?
“Montreal has been my favourite team since I was a little kid. I liked them because Patrick Roy used to play there.”
4. What arenas do you looking forward to playing in on the road?
“I like playing in Spokane. They have one of the nicest rinks (Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena) in the league and they always have a good crowd.”
5. If you weren’t playing hockey, what other sport would you pursue?
“Baseball. I was big into playing it when I was younger, but I had to quick when I was 12 because hockey was taking up more of my time.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen