After coming out of Northeastern University the winner of consecutive Mike Richter Awards as the NCAA’s top goaltender and being victorious in five of his first NHL starts, most hockey observers considered Devon Levi the best netminding prospect in hockey, but not according to a column in the Athletic ranking the best prospects between the pipes.
TAKE A BOW, DEVON LEVI 🤯 pic.twitter.com/bRUi9KWUIg
— NHL (@NHL) April 5, 2023
The 21-year-old Levi was ranked third behind Minnesota’s Jesper Wallstadt and Nashville’s Yaroslav Askarov.
The reason for the ranking appears to be Levi’s size (6’0″, 185 lb.) as opposed to Wallstedt and Askarov (both 6’3″), in spite of them being impressed with his edge work, quick feet, good hands, reading shooters, excellent tracking of the puck, and battler’s mentality keeping him in plays.
Previous Pro Experience
Both Wallstedt(2021) and Askarov(2020) were drafted in the first round and each served a multi-year apprenticeship in a high-level European professional league, as well as one year in the American Hockey League. Levi was a 2020 seventh-round pick of the Florida Panthers (traded to Buffalo in the Sam Reinhart deal) and came directly to the NHL after three years in US college hockey, but had some international experience as members of Team Canada at the World Junior, World Championships and Olympics.
JESPER WALLSTEDT GOALIE GOAL 🚨🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/cKsPLRB4Jh
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) November 13, 2022
This ranking is the reason why some are skeptical that Levi can handle the burden of being an NHL starting goaltender next season, since he has no extensive professional experience, while both Wallstedt and Askarov have multiple years under their belts.
Ironically, both higher-ranked goalies are not expected to see significant time in the NHL in 2023-24. Wallstedt will likely be making the lion’s share of starts with the Iowa Wild (Minnesota’s AHL affiliate) with Filip Gustavsson and future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury splitting duties with the Wild. Nashville has former Vezina nominee Juuse Saros and backup Kevin Lankinen slated to be their NHL tandem, with Askarov likely staying another season with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals.
Yaroslav Askarov gets a few reps in after a 45-save shootout victory 🤣 pic.twitter.com/rgvcWLe4ZK
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) February 11, 2023