by Dominic Tiano (@DominicTiano)
The 6’0 and 175 pound netminder is a native of Toronto and is in his third Ontario Hockey League season, all with the Belleville Bulls. Graham was drafted in the 2011 Priority Selection in the 7th round, 127th overall.
He played his Minor Midget AAA with the Don Mills Flyers prior to his draft where he posted a 1.06 GAA in 15 games. He spent the beginning of the 2011 – 2012 season with the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL. While appearing in 14 games, he posted a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage. He got the call up to Belleville, and the rest, as they say is history.
He finished that OHL season with a 3.95 GAA and .870 save percentage. In 2012-2013, he backed up former NHL first rounder Malcolm Subban for the most part. But when Subban went to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships, not only did Graham do the job, but he performed admirably.
He finished the 2012-2013 season with a 2.59 GAA and .922 save percentage. It was at that time OHL Writers ranked Graham as the number one goalie available for the NHL Draft, one spot ahead of Spencer Martin who was the only OHL goalie selected in the 2013 NHL Draft.
With the one-third mark of the season upon us, Graham ranks sixth among OHL goaltenders in minutes played this season. He leads all goaltenders in shots faced and shots per game – 29 more shots faced than Martin who leads the OHL in minutes played, the equivalent of 3 more games than Graham has.
Graham has appeared in 18 games to date this season and in five of those has faced 50 or more shots with a record of 4-1-0. He faced 60 shots once and 72 shots once – both victories. Quite simply: he gives his team a chance to win. But when your team is sporting a minus 34 goals for/ goals against ratio and has the third fewest goals scored in the entire league, wins are hard to come by.
Like any goaltender still developing his skills, Graham will occasionally let in a “soft” goal. But he has the mental ability to shut that out and not disrupt him the rest of the game. He’ll then make a save that leaves you asking “how did he stop that?”
Graham is a very athletic goaltender who tracks the puck well. Occasionally, he’ll overplay a shot but his excellent athleticism allows him to get back square. He’ll challenge shooters and he controls his rebounds very well. In a lot of ways, he’s very similar to Subban. That’s not to say he is comparable to Subban, but there are some similarities.
The goaltending position is a strange one when it comes to the NHL Draft. More often than not, goaltenders passed over in their first year of eligibility do not get drafted the second time around and are more likely to sign as a free agent somewhere no matter how deserving. Probably because the pool is so large, finding a goaltender won’t be as difficult and thus no need to “use” a draft pick. Michael Houser is the most recent to go undrafted in two drafts that was, in my opinion, worthy of a draft pick and signed as a free agent. Graham could very well be in that same class.