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Top 25 under 25: Merrick Madsen thinking his way to the NHL crease at #16

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The Harvard puck stopper is a big goalie with some seriously big NHL potential

2016 Beanpot Tournament - Semifinals Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

#16: -Merrick Madsen- Goaltender

Where did he come from?: Acquired in trade with Philadelphia along with Nick Cousins, for Brendan Warren and 2018 5th round pick, 2017

Has he played in the NHL yet?: No

Merrick Madsen may become one of the cleverest trade acquisitions of John Chayka’s early reign. The 6’5, 190lb goaltender has perhaps not built up much of a hype wave outside of the Northeast. When he was acquired by the Coyotes for the very cheap price listed above, he seemed at first glance to be something of a throw-in, a college netminder who was returning to school for his senior year in 2017-18. But then you investigate and, like many Chayka trades, you see the long-term plans and calculations.

Madsen has also quietly become one of the best college goaltenders in the country. His size would seem to be the key to his game, but watch him play and you can see that it’s his brain that will become his greatest asset.

My fellow FFH staff member Alex Temes watched him at development camp extensively this summer and had this to say about the way he plays:

Tall, broad, takes an aggressive stance. Very mechanical like Chad Johnson but bigger. He didn't look explosive on saves but he didn't have to be because he had the size and angles already. Super cerebral goalie. He compares himself to Ben Bishop and Mike Smith.”

Comparing yourself to two of the better goalies in the NHL in the modern era might seem like hyperbole, but Madsen can back it up. He’s a mathematics student who uses his comprehension of angles and positioning beautifully to create a very precise, calm style of play that, in the NCAA, radiates confidence out to his team-mates. His performances the past few seasons have been key to Harvard’s ECAC championship success, and his cerebral, analysis-based approach to the game has led to him being named a team captain for the Crimson for his senior year, with a chance to improve further on his .923 SV and 2.11 GAA from last season.

What’s next for Merrick Madsen?

Madsen is returning to Harvard for his senior year on the quest to win yet another ECAC championship and then a Frozen Four as the starter and one of the team captains - a role that will fit him ideally to continue developing for the pro level. His main adjustment will need to be his anticipation and vision in preparing for pro shooters, but with a full year facing players like Ryan Donato (Boston Bruins) in practice, that may well come quicker than some think. In 2018-19, he’ll have a legit chance at an AHL starter spot, battling with Hunter Miska for the role, and from then on, the sky could be the limit.