2014 NHL Draft Spotlight: Liam Herbst
Anyone who knows my philosophies as far as goaltenders and drafts know that I am extremely shy about first round goaltenders. Despite the fact that It is one of the most important positions in the game, the history of first round goaltenders
is one that is a bit hit and miss in the OHL. Its hard for me to justify selecting a goaltender in the first round, knowing that I could get a goaltender who could be just as good in two years a little later in the draft. That said, there was one goaltender this year displayed enough potential for me to consider him a 1st round talent, and a goaltender who I could see making a quick impact in the league, it’s Liam Herbst.
Herbst is a well sized goaltender who displays all that tools that you look for in a potential franchise goaltender at the next level. His biggest assets are twofold. First, he is extremely well sized and is very strong at taking away space from opposition shooters. His other biggest asset is his strong positional play. He is always square to shooters, and effective at coming out and playing at the top of the crease. You always see his feet planted at the top of the blue paint, adjusting his stance as the puck moves east to west. He is also incredibly focused. He doesn’t allow a high amount of traffic or a high number of shots to phase him, and always looks cool and poised regardless of the situation. His body language always remains consistent, regardless of the situation. Despite his size, his is very fluid in his movements. He moves well post to post and displays great agility. The other aspect of his game that impresses is his rebound control. Very rarely does he allow a puck to escape his ‘safe’ area (within 2 feet of the net), and when he does, its usually directed to a safe area of the net.
One area for improvement in his game is his consistency level. In the first 3 months of the GTHL season, Herbst was thought of as a top 10 selection based on his play. He showed incredible consistency level, and was always performing at a high level. As the year played out, we witnessed a dip in his play, as he seemed to be all over the map at times with his positional play and his focus. Continuing a high level of play at all times will really help take his game to a new level, and help him become a much more consistent goaltender. Also, despite the younger age, Herbst did suffer a pretty signiiicant lower body injury last year. I don’t envision it as a long term concern, but any time goaltenders are hurt, its something you want to keep an eye on.
At this time, Herbst is one of, if not the most impressive goaltending prospects that I have seen in the past 5 years of scouting for the OHL Draft. He has all the tools to be a top goaltender at the next level, and if he realizes his potential, could one day be a first round selection for the NHL Draft. They key will be playing in an area that allows him to develop his skill set. .