Since 2015, the Everett Silvertips have been in a stable place in regards to goaltending. They smoothly transitioned from the dominant tenure of Carter Hart to a similar situation with the current netminder, Dustin Wolf. In Hart’s final campaign with Everett, Wolf waited in the wings as the backup, establishing himself as the heir apparent to the Silvertips net. Now a year away from the departure of another star goalie, the team still finds itself in a comfortable spot.
In a sport full of uncertainty, there is one thing every junior hockey team knows for sure. Every single player remains for a brief time. It does not matter if a team possesses the answer to all of its problems. It needs to plan for life after that individual moves on.
There is no question that Wolf is Everett’s starting goalie for the upcoming season. The 2020 CHL Goaltender of the Year posted the WHL’s best goals-against average (1.88) and save percentage (.935) for the second straight season. Additionally, he seldom lost, going 34-10-2-0 in 46 games.
Remarkably, the numbers make it appear as though he took a step back in his production. In his draft year, Wolf played 61 games and won 41 of them. His GAA (1.69) and SV% (.936) were both off the charts. Crazy enough, it took until the seventh round for him to go to Calgary in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Regardless of how you interpret the numbers, Wolf remains the most dominant netminder in the WHL. If the Silvertips are going to contend for the WHL Championship in 2020-21, his stellar work in net will play a significant part.
Braden Holt waiting in the wings
Dustin Wolf cannot start every game. Even though he is a workhorse, the Silvertips are going to have to rely on the backup occasionally. Ideally, in junior hockey, your current backup can one day become the starter. Luckily, Everett is in that position with 16-year-old Braden Holt.
This past season, Holt did not receive his opportunity until Keegan Karki lost the Silvertips’ faith. Once Everett decided to deal Karki to Prince Albert, Holt got his shot as Wolf’s backup. In limited action, the Montana native looked promising. He only played eight games; however, his 1.82 GAA and .926 SV% were impressive. Additionally, he registered four wins and one shutout with the club.
— Rob Liddell (@CoachLiddell) January 5, 2020
To dub Holt as the future in the net now is premature. His sample size remains small, and we all know how much of a fool’s errand projecting goalies’ success can become. Still, he is in an excellent place for Everett to groom him as such. The next step in Holt’s development is to see more action this upcoming season. In what will hopefully be a full slate of games, one can expect Wolf to start anywhere between 45 and 50 contests. That leaves approximately 20 starts for Holt. Yes, going from 20 starts one year to the starting role the following campaign seems like a leap. However, it is what happened with Wolf, and that turned out quite well.
Everett Silvertips’ success in net continues
Everett’s recent history with goaltenders leaves little to be desired. It’s rare for teams to witness talents such as Hart and Wolf consecutively. Frankly, some franchises are looking for one individual to come close to either of these two. When your past two netminders never saw their save percentage dip below .915 in their WHL careers, it’s hard to imagine this kind of success continuing for much longer. At some point, Everett must suffer the “mediocre goalie” bug just like every other team.
Maybe it occurs after Wolf’s departure. For now, Holt provides intrigue and a glimmer of hope that Everett’s goalie run will continue. All one can do now is wait and see.