2021-22 Team: Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Date of Birth: March 27, 2004
Place of Birth: Saint-Jérôme, QC, CAN
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
Some prospects are more polarizing than others. In the case of Quebec-born center David Goyette, most can agree that he has a tantalizing package that could one day yield a quality NHL player. Where the disagreement comes in is just how high his ceiling really is, and just how much the loss of the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League season affected his development. As a standout player this season for the Sudbury Wolves, one thing is for certain: this kid can produce offense.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Asked to rise to the occasion as the Wolves’ top center with the departure of 2020 second-overall pick Quinton Byfield, Goyette was thrown to the…wolves…early on this season. He embraced the challenge, however, and cemented himself as a legitimate top-six threat for Sudbury. With over a point per-game average this season, he has produced like a top prospect, though maybe not to the same level as some of the players projected to come off the board early on in the 2022 draft.
Simply put: Goyette is at his best with the puck on his stick. Watching him lead the charge on offense and carry the puck through the neutral zone will give you visions of a player that makes things happen at the NHL level. He can dish it just as well as he can shoot it, and his slick hands allow him to make the kind of moves that make opposing defensemen look silly. He can buy himself space and time through his stickhandling, and he is confident enough in his abilities to use them on a fairly regular basis. This mixture of offensive IQ and pure offensive skill makes him a lot of fun to watch and a candidate to do special things on the ice on any given shift.
While that confidence is not something to frown upon, it does sometimes lead him astray. Goyette sometimes relies too heavily on his own abilities from him, failing to identify passing opportunities or recognize when simply chipping the puck in deep would be the smarter play. In those instances, he becomes turnover prone as failed attempts to outmaneuver the defense sends the puck in the wrong direction. He needs to get better at picking his spots from him; there’s a time and place to pull out the slick moves, and there are other times where a player should keep it simple and live to fight another day.
Whether the puck is on his stick or he is in pursuit of it, Goyette’s skating ability gives him an edge over the average skater. While he isn’t in the upper-echelon on prospects in terms of his skating ability, his skating is still one of the strong points of his game as he is able to generate good speed through the neutral zone, can make plays while still maintaining top speed, and he’s strong enough on his feet to get shoved around without losing the puck. This is a facet of his game that could and should get even better as he physically gets stronger.
Also of note is that Goyette ranked third in the sport testing part of the 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Combine. Only Matthew Savoie and Vinzenz Rohrer ranked above him. Categories Goyette finished in the top five of include: weave agility with puck, transition agility, transition agility with puck, and reaction.
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David Goyette – NHL Draft Projection
As evidenced by his wide-ranging standing across many different rankings, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Goyette will land in the 2022 draft. He should be gone by the end of the third round, and there’s a chance that a team falls in love with him and takes him early in the second round. Realistically, he’ll probably go somewhere in between, possibly in the 45-60 range. He’s the type of prospect that teams with multiple second and third round picks could feel comfortable taking a swing on, and he’s the type of prospect that teams without many mid-round picks may feel can elevate the overall quality of their draft class.
“It’s clear when watching him that Goyette possesses the tools to be a prolific scorer in the OHL, as his constant movement and impressive skills with the puck make him a player that brings fans out of their seats on a regular basis. However, only partially through his first season, Goyette will need to show off his talent from him consistently to stand out among a stacked ‘double’ rookie class in Ontario. ” –Joseph Aleong, FC Hockey
“A 17-year-old OHL rookie has been steadily developing all season. He is undersized at 5-11 and 174 but his skating and vision of him compensate. His offensive upside of him continues to increase every game he plays. The wait time on his NHL and his fantasy impact may be close to four years, but it could be well worth the wait. – Peter Harlin, Dobber Prospects
“Goyette displays good creativity off the rush and can make tough plays with pace. His work ethic is up and down for me. Some days I find him too much of a perimeter player and on others I see him engaged in battles and being a factor on the ice consistently. He’s so talented that I think he’ll find a way to become a top-nine forward, likely on the wing, but I think he will frustrate coaches along the way.” – Corey Pronman (From “The 2022 NHL Draft ranking: Juraj Slafkovsky rises in Pronman’s updated list”, The Athletic3/29/22)
- puck skills
- offensive IQ
With enough time and development, Goyette has an outside chance at becoming a second line center in the NHL, with a more realistic goal being a depth playmaker in the middle six. He has the offensive ability to become a premiere playmaker in the league, but he’s going to have to learn to play smarter. There’s a ton of raw potential here, and it will take some time to put all the tools together. If it clicks, he could be a quality point-producer for his team.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10, Defense – 4/10
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.