Mandolese clocks in at 6’4, and 181 pounds, and all of that is used to guard the net of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the QMJHL, and boy did they need it this year, as Cape Breton’s defense almost didn’t exist, and that’s a weird place to be if you’re a junior team that can score. They stayed above .500, but couldn’t backcheck to save their lives. In a famously not-great-defensively league.
As such when you play on a team getting regularly turnstiled, Mandolese’ SV% isn’t going to blow anybody’s mind. He’s been around .880 as a career average, so what makes him so valuable according to the NHL scouting staff?
Well, he big, for one thing.
Mandolese stands out as one of the largest lads in the draft right now at the position of goalie. It also helps that Mandolese has his positioning down, recovers very well from saves of any kind, and reads plays very well to deny opposing teams opportunities to score (and again he had to do that a lot). His sheer athleticism alone in such a frame makes him a dynamite player when the team is clicking, pitching a 45 shots saved game against Sherbooke last year where he only let one shot past him. 45 shots!
It helps that his attitude is usually pretty good and passionate for the game, and this has not gone unnoticed by his head coach, Marc-Andre Dupont. (Page is in french)
“I have always said that actions are a reflection of the attitude. Always, without exception. When you want to know someone’s attitude, you look at his actions and in this case, it’s clear that Kevin is doing everything he can to become the best goalkeeper possible. ” - Marc-Andre Dupont, GM/Head Coach of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Where he needs improvement, is like many prospects at this level; Consistency, muscle, and more accurately for him; rebound control. Right now he can happily get in front of most shots and turn a good portion of them away, but his rebounds open up second chance opportunities that, quite frankly, his team is not, nor does it seem like is ever, prepared to deal with. His aggressive tactics in dealing with shooters also sometimes can be his downfall, as he can leave wide open nets in places on the ice you really don’t want. As for the muscle, he is actually on the lighter side of goalies in this draft who are 6’4, and so putting some muscle on that frame will definitely help him in the long run. That’s just an “age and coaching” thing, so keeping that up will be part of the deal.
Currently, Mandolese is scheduled for somebody to take him in the late 2nd round or 3rd round. If fans are willing to be patient and coaches (and GMs from the looks of it) are willing to ice a defense that can support what this kid can bring? We might have the makings of a strong, aggressive, fun goaltending option to have around.
#2 by NHL Central Scouting among North American Goaltenders
#3 among goaltenders at the 2018 NHL Draft by TheDraftAnalyst.com