Jacob Fowler Named Mike Richter Award Finalist

New Hampshire v Boston College
New Hampshire v Boston College / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens picked one of the top-ranked goaltenders of the 2023 NHL Draft, in the third round at 69th overall in Jacob Fowler.

His freshman season, the first since being drafted has been a carry-over of what he did last year in the United States Hockey League. The Farmington Hills, Florida., native has been the backbone of the Boston College Eagles and, despite having a high octane offense, Fowler has been one of the squads best players. The NCAA is a large step up from the USHL, and Fowler has managed to match his wins total (27) in seven fewer games.

Fowler's brilliant season has etched his name in the conversation for the nation's top goaltender. He has also asserted himself as the top goaltending prospect in the Canadiens prospect pool. Yevgeni Volokhin and Quentin Miller are no slouches, but Fowler has a certain calm and cool about him, which has put him in the driver's seat.

On a recent episode of The Sick Podcast - The Eye Test, Boston Hockey Now's Jimmy Murphy and NHL analyst Pierre McGuire, the pair hosted Canadiens vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton. Gorton spoke about the swagger that Fowler has, and how he wants to be the one in the spotlight. He welcomes the pressure and feels that he is blessed to have it, which matches up with the way he plays when the competition rises.

McGuire joined The Sick Podcast with Tony Marinaro on Wednesday night and he went a step further, suggesting that Fowler is much closer than many think. He stated that if Boston College wins it all, many of their players will likely graduate, Fowler included. But what was interesting was his assessment, in which he said he believes that the young goalie could play in Laval next year, then jump to the Canadiens for the 2025-26 season.

Developmentally, this move would take away essential playing time from Jakub Dobes and it would also rush Fowler. I think another season in the NCAA next year before going over to Laval in 2025-26 would make the most sense. It would give Habs management more time to assess what they have in Dobes, and Fowler can boost his confidence with another winning season at Boston College.

Back to the Mike Richter award for a second though, Fowler's potential future teammate Cayden Primeau won the award in 2018-19. No player development is linear and goaltenders almost always take a little longer, Primeau's college dominance didn't exactly translate right away. Still finding his way in the Canadiens system, Primeau's development may be different than Fowler's, but it suggests that rushing a goalie isn't the ideal method for success.

Every position will be equally important for the Canadiens, especially when their contention window approaches, but mishandling a potential starting goaltender could put in the spoke of the Canadiens plans. What Fowler is doing is very impressive and certainly isn't going to go unnoticed. But unless the organization feels he should come over next season, then he should stay in Boston.