Weight: 205 lbs.
Current Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Central Scouting Ranking: 1 (North America)
If we can take Tim Murray for his word, we know one thing: The Sabres are taking a goalie at some point in this draft. The question is when. Ilya Samsonov has been the name most frequently thrown around. If he's off the board, Mackenzie Blackwood would be the next best available.
Blackwood had a very successful rookie campaign in 2013-14 playing behind last year's first overall pick Aaron Ekblad. He was named to the OHL First All-Rookie team, despite not being the expected starter coming into the season. He first started playing goalie at 12, only four years before arriving in Barrie. He impressed the coaches, and took the reigns of the starting job right out of the gate.
This season his save percentage improved despite Ekblad heading to Florida, and an impressive playoff run boosted his draft stock.
He's a player that really steps up when it matters most, as his numbers improved even further during the Colts' post-season runs each of the past two seasons. He was third among OHL goalies in playoff save percentage this year, which concluded with a second round exit at the hands of the North Bay Battalion. It's not surprising that many people commend the mental side of his game.
Big goalies seem to be a trend in the NHL, and Blackwood fits that mold. Despite his large frame he is still a mobile goalie, which bodes well for success at the professional level.
Samsonov may be considered the top goalie in the draft, but Blackwood isn't far behind in most rankings. He'll likely go somewhere in the early second round, but you really never know when it comes to goalies.
What They're Saying
"A goalie who stays calm, cool, and collected in all situations, whether down by five or leading by ten. Knows his game inside and out, and never panics. With his size, it isn't a surprise that he excels in the traditional butterfly-style; plays the puck intelligently and is quick to react with both his blocker and glove hand. Swift, crisp lateral movements let him get into positions where shooters have nothing to shoot at. At the end of the day, you can never complain when you have a goalie who tries as hard, and plays as consistently, as Mackenzie Blackwood."
-Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects
"Blackwood possesses a very good base of goaltending skill. His mobility and lateral agility is good and he moves well around his net in reading the play and utilizing his size to his advantage. At times he gets caught deep in the net, creating unnecessary vulnerability but is certainly an aspect that can be developed and allow him to be a very good goalie."
-Craig Button, TSN
"Blackwood projects well from a physical standpoint. He has NHL size and athletic ability, but the biggest attribute an NHL goalie can have now is a good ability to track the puck. And scouts think Blackwood has that. 'He's good at reading the play and getting into position,' said one scout. 'For big goalies, the challenge is not just relying on size and saying OK, I'm big, puck hit me.'"
-The Hockey News
"He takes a calm and relaxed approach and has excellent positional play. He has a butterfly style with great low net coverage and controlled lateral movements."
-Al Jensen, NHL Central Scouting