Who Do We Have With: Kaden Fulcher?
Kaden Fulcher has all of the skills and physical capabilities to be a top 5 starter in the Ontario Hockey League. Excellent size at 6’3, quick foot speed, quick hands, a fantastic range of motion. Time and time again this past season Fulcher’s work was featured on the OHL’s Janes Saves of the Week, but this may have been more indicative of his tendency to make beautiful desperation saves because, well, he was down and out. Confidence and consistency are two issues Fulcher will need to overcome if he is going to make it to the NHL.
- Hockey Prospect.com: #199
- NHL Central Scouting, North American Goalies:
- Midterm – #9
- Final – #18
- Mark Edwards – HockeyProspect.com: “Fulcher was a guy that we really liked, and Ryan Yessie, our London based scout, was really high on Fulcher. He’s just had a horrible year. He really struggled this year. When you look at him, he looks like a player who could definitely make the jump, but there is no nice way to say it, he had trouble stopping the puck this year. These are young guys and goalies really develop late. Dylan Wells last year did not have a fantastic season, and Dylan was a kid where when the first one went by him he kind of went to pieces and that didn’t happen this year, he had a fantastic draft year +1. So, Fulcher’s got the tools, he looks the part, he just had his struggles this year. Ryan fought hard to get him included on our list this year”. (Interview with Allan Mitchell on the Lowdown with Lowetide, asking if Dylan Wells can be a comparable for Kaden Fulcher – Source)
- Ryan Yessie – HockeyProspect.com: “He took over as the starter going into the season, and when they acquired Carty, I think it took a lot of pressure off him. He was really the lone guy there, and I felt at times he was trying to do a little too much. His numbers just seemed to get better once he had Carty on the team, even though Carty was backing him up. I think he got a little more comfortable and he stopped trying to do too much. He’s extremely athletic for a big goaltender, he’s got a good glove-hand and he’s got the size that you really want when you’re looking for a goal-tender. This is really his first full season in the OHL…he has looked like a rookie at times, but I think he’s got a lot of upside there.” (Interview with Guy Flaming on the Pipeline Show – Source)
- Brock Otten – OHL Prospects: “Even as a late ’98, Fulcher remains a prospect with a lot of potential who just hasn’t put everything together quite yet. He’s got size at 6’3. He’s one of the most athletic goaltenders in the OHL and is lightning quick post to post. But he struggles rebounding from bad goals and still struggles from bad reads. He started the year quite well and looked to be on track to be a top 100 pick come June. But his second half was a disaster. Mind you, the Bulldogs brought in Dawson Carty so his playing time was cut, but the stat line wasn’t pretty. In his appearances after January 11 (11 of them), he posted an .876 save percentage and a GAA of over 4. But this guy is still the goaltender of the future for a talented Hamilton team and if he could ever figure it out, we’d be talking about a front line goaltender in the OHL.” (Source)
- Branden Ross – The Scout: “He’s 6’3 and is exceptionally athletic. His quickness in the crease is extremely evident. But there are definitely going to be some ups and downs for him as he continues to work on his fundamentals (rebound control, angles). It certainly helps to explain his inconsistencies thus far. But he’s Hamilton’s starter and they’re a great team, so he’s going to get his chance to really shine as the year goes on“. (Source)
- Kathryn Jean – Recrutes.ca: “Fulcher has the framework that all NHL teams look for in a goaltender. He’s big, athletic and calm and composed in the net. He has struggled with some consistency and like most young goaltenders, could improve on his rebound control. While he’s usually pretty quick, his reaction time was off a little in this game.” (Source)
Fulcher earned the starting role at the beginning of the season, and took off running. He was very clear headed and locked into the play every night for the first quarter of the season. It became very obvious once October ended that he was getting fatigued, and Cole Ceci wasn’t helping out in a backup role. General Manager Steve Staios really should have addressed the back up position faster, but the team wanted to give Ceci the chance to prove he was OHL material, especially after his solid 2015/16 campaign with the team’s affiliate.
By not having internal competition pushing Fulcher for the starting role, his confidence cracked once it was clear the team’s success this season rested solely on his shoulders. Once Dawson Carty arrived from Kitchener, it was clear that Fulcher was going to need to work his way back into competitive form.
From a physical standpoint, Fulcher is a can’t miss prospect, and his technical game is very fine tuned. His problem is his play deteriorates with every puck that finds it’s way past him. He will stand on his head for 50 minutes, but as soon as the opposition gets a soft one past him, it’s almost as if they can count on two more goals before the game ends. If he can figure out how to overcome the mental deficiencies in his game, Fulcher could be an all-star in the OHL.
Where will he go?
NHL Central Scouting dropped Fulcher hard after his disappointing second half. I wonder if there are any teams who look at his season and skill set, and contemplate his ability to emulate Peterborough’s Dylan Wells’ development. They had very similar stories in their draft year, darling prospects in the eyes of scouts except when it comes to the actual statistics. If Fulcher is drafted, it will be with a 6th or 7th round pick, and the scouting staff will work hard to figure out what they’re putting in the water bottles in the Pete’s locker room.
Hamilton is going to have the opportunity to make a long run in the 2018 OHL post season, and Fulcher will likely be given the go ahead in the playoffs. NHL teams might be willing to gamble on that development potential.
The 2017 NHL Draft Series
- Who Do We Have With Matthew Strome
- Who Do We Have With MacKenzie Entwistle
- Who Do We Have With Marian Studenič
Feature Image: Claus Andersen / Getty Images