In late March of 2019, Jake Oettinger played his last game for Boston University and joined the AHL’s Texas Stars for his first professional season.
Tonight**, he gets his first call up to the NHL as emergency coverage for the injured Ben Bishop.
The 6’5” goalie prospect was drafted by the Stars 26th overall in 2017 draft (the same year the Stars picked Miro Heiskanen 3rd overall) and played on a talented BU Team that included Flyers prospect Joel Farabee and Predators prospect Dante Fabbro.
The Stars traded up on the day of the draft to secure Oettinger, sending Anaheim’s first-round pick in 2017 (29th overall) and a third-round pick in 2017 (70th overall) to Chicago in exchange.
The trade raised a few eyebrows, the list of goalies selected in the first round is illustrious but the Stars previous first-round goalie selection – Jack Campbell recently traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the L.A. Kings – proved to have a torrid development period with the Stars.
Oettinger played 6 games with the Texas Stars at the end of the 2018-2019 season, going 3-2-1 while still wearing his B.U. Terriers pads and goalie mask and it was clear early that while the 20-year-old was raw, he was a legitimate talent with lightning-fast reflexes and an athletic style in net.
This season, Oettinger has played 35 games, splitting time in net with Landon Bow, and he sports a .911 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average, good enough for 14th overall in AHL goalie save percentage (and the 2nd best among rookies), backstopping a team that has too often been mediocre defensively. He has continued to impress with his athleticism and quickness and the tall youngster has a style that is reminiscent in many ways of Ben Bishop, this includes adventuring away from net on occasion, a tendency that has occasionally had the fans in the arena catching their breath.
In recent games, it seems that the youngster has overtaken Landon Bow on the depth chart, continuing to start games even after Bow’s recent return from injury.
It remains to be seen whether the Stars will be able to perform the cap wizardry required to resign Anton Khudobin in the off-season.
In an ideal world, Oettinger would have an additional season or two to mature in the AHL, which seems preferable for the young goalie than warming the bench in Dallas, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Oettinger is a legitimate talent and Stars fans can be optimistic for the future of the franchise in net.
Featured Image: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars *Exact records and statistics may have changed from the time of publishing of this article.