The Blackhawks haven’t put a ton of time into developing goaltenders in recent years. The team already had good options at the NHL level in Corey Crawford, Scott Darling, and Antti Raanta, so it was largely content to focus on other positions while letting those guys hold down the fort between the pipes. But that can’t last forever, and Chicago will need a “goalie of the future” soon. That could be Wouter Peeters, who comes in No. 22 in our Top 25 Under 25 rankings.
Birth date: July 31, 1998
Acquired via: Third-round pick (No. 83 overall) in 2016
Most recent stop: Jokerit U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
Size: 6’4, 201 pounds
The Blackhawks were aggressive in drafting Peeters with a third-round pick even though he wasn’t widely considered a top-100 prospect. It’s clear they view him as a high-upside goalie prospect, and that makes sense given his 6’4, 201-pound frame makes him look like a prototypical NHL netminder.
The problem for Peeters is that we haven’t really seen him play at a high level yet. It’s all projection with him, and while goaltenders often take longer to develop, there’s a good chance that he’ll never become the player everyone in Chicago hopes he can be.
Last season with Jokerit U20, Peeters struggled with a .899 save percentage over 23 games. He was apparently not thrilled with his development over there because he decided to leave the organization to join the USHL for the 2017-18 season. The 19-year-old told The Athletic it was hard being in Finland given he was the only player on his team who couldn’t speak Finnish.
Part of the idea of moving Peeters to the USHL that the Blackhawks will be able to keep closer tabs on him, but it’ll also help expedite his transition to living in North America as a hockey player.
Peeters is one of the most intriguing prospects in the organization. He’s as high-risk, high-reward as they come, and for a team without any other goaltender prospects beyond recently acquired Anton Forsberg, it’ll be interesting to see whether he ends up being the Hawks’ goalie of the future.
What’s next in 2017-18?
Peeters is joining the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL next season. The hope is that he’ll be able to take a major leap forward and possibly get the Blackhawks to offer him an entry-level contract in 2018.