Columbus Blue Jackets prospect watch: Melvin Strahl

The Blue Jackets took a late-round swing on an unknown Swedish goaltender at last summer's draft. He's a tough one to keep track of.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Blue Jackets played the long game in the 5th round of last summer's draft, selecting goaltender Melvin Strahl from the famed MoDo hockey program in Sweden.

How far off the radar was this guy? Well, in my 20 or so years of prospect writing, this is the first player I can ever recall not being able to find a single image of, to use for the article header. Hence, a picture of acting GM John Davidson.

He did come to the team's prospect camp last summer, so we have some brief viewings on him in North America.

But catching games from Sweden's junior leagues are tough from this side of the pond, so I've spent a lot of time tracking down whatever footage I can find of Strahl. It's scarce, but it's out there.

This year, he posted a modest .903% save percentage and 2.91GAA.

Melvin has a big frame that should fill out in time, coming in at 6'3" and around 170 pounds. He takes up a lot of the net (as you can see above), even when he's in the butterfly.

He's an athletic goaltender, with strong lateral movement and generally, pretty good rebound control. When he does make the big push across, he doesn't over slide, which is one of the things I specifically look for with young goaltenders.

Watch this play, where he does leave a rebound - but since he doesn't over-commit, he's able to get back and make the second stop:

Overall, he's a good puck stopper at his age, even on a bad team. The team has also raved about his compete level and willingness to learn. In a late-round roll of the dice, what more could you ask for?

I can't help but think of two names when I talk about Melvin Strahl. The first one is based solely on playstyle: he reminds me a lot of a young Joonas Korpisalo. Development is key here, but Joonas is a goaltender that made the NHL and has played a lot of games as a starter.

The other comparison is based on the level of awareness he had around him at the draft. The New York Rangers took a 7th round gamble on a relatively unknown Swedish goaltender, back at the 2001 NHL Draft.

That goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, is now in the Hall of Fame.

Now, let's temper our expectations. I'm not calling Melvin Strahl a future HoF player. In fact, I'm skeptical that we'll even see him in the NHL within the next 3-4 years. But, it's not impossible for him to get here and play, even if most of the hockey world doesn't know who he is.