The future of American goaltending is as bright as it has ever been with the likes of Jonathan Quick and John Gibson tending net in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, respectively.
A California native playing college hockey all the way across the country at Boston College is another reason for optimism when it comes to the future of USA Hockey in international competition.
As a very young freshman who accelerated to arrive at BC a year early, Thatcher Demko took a few months to adjust to college hockey, but he took Hockey East by storm in January and February before hitting a bit of a rookie wall in March.
Demko has the rare ability to come combine elite athleticism with terrific fundamentals. His size allows for him to take up a large portion of the net to make it nearly impossible for opposing shooters to get a good angle.
Having seen BC as often as any team in Hockey East this season, it was apparent that Demko has all the tools. One night it was his quick glove, the next night it would be a quick flash of the pads for a kick save and then it would be his good positioning allowing him to coral a puck right in the midsection.
Demko had a tendency to let up the occasional soft goal, but overall, his play was very impressive in his rookie season in Hockey East, one of, if not the best league in college hockey. Another favorable characteristic was his ability to not let a poor goal affect his play the rest of the game.
"He's just getting better and better as he gets more exposed, more games and gains experience," said Jerry York after a 2-0 shutout win over Providence in January. "For an 18 year old he's a really special player. I thought he was outstanding tonight."
Demko seemed to relish the spotlight and didn't let the nerves of being an 18 year-old freshman distract him from playing up to his capabilities.
"He's kind of a mature kid. He played at the NTDP level. He's gone from San Diego to Boston for school. He's got a lot of maturity for a young kid," said York.
Demko, projected to go towards the end of the first round of the NHL Draft on June 27, is rated as the No. 1 goaltender in North America by NHL Central Scouting.
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of NHL Draft prospect profiles on college hockey players and NCAA recruits who are likely to be selected in the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27 and 28.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSports.