We have arrived at the highest rated goaltender in the Raw Charge 2020 Top 25 Under 25 ranking for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hugo Alnefelt comes in at number 14 on the list. Alnefelt was unranked in 2019, mostly due to the lack of name recognition for him. A good season following his draft year though has come some attention for the Swedish goaltender.
A left-catching goaltender, Alnefelt was taken 71st overall in the third round by the Lightning in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. It marked the second year in a row that the Lightning took a chance on a Swedish goaltender following the prior year's pick of Magnus Chrona. Listed at 6’3” and 183 pounds, Chrona has average NHL size for a goaltender.
Alnefelt has been part of the HV71 system in Sweden since the 2017-18 season. In his draft season of 2018-19, he mostly played at the U20 level in Sweden and posted a 2.59 GAA, .905 save percentage, and a 14-10-0 record. He played another three games in the playoffs with a 3.09 GAA and .894 save percentage going 1-2. He also played for Team Sweden in the U18 World Junior Championship posting a 4-1-0 record with a 2.75 GAA and .921 save percentage while winning a gold medal.
He followed up his draft season by playing mostly in the SHL, the top Swedish men’s league. In 18 games, he posted a 2.57 GAA and .905 save percentage with a 10-7-0 record. This is pretty impressive for a 19 year old goaltender playing at the top level in Sweden. In addition, he was the starting goaltender for Team Sweden in the U20 World Junior Championship and helped them to the bronze medal. He posted a 2.21 GAA, .924 save percentage, and 5-1 record in the tournament.
The 2020-21 season has started for Alnefelt in Sweden and has been a bit rough. In 10 games, he has a 3.04 GAA and .904 save percentage, but has a 4-6-0 record. He’s also expected to once again compete to be the top goaltender for Team Sweden at the U20 World Junior Championship with another chance at securing a medal in the top junior tournament.
Alnefelt is a big, athletic goaltender. He plays fast and occasionally makes some cat-like saves.
Hugo Alnefelt with some breakdancing in the crease pic.twitter.com/jgqsubSPL9— Gregory Balloch (@GregBalloch) November 25, 2020
Oh, did I also mention he seems to be a funny and jovial goalie as well?
“I’m Hugo. I’m from Sweden. I stop pucks.” Cracks me up every time.
Alnefelt could potentially make the move over to the AHL next season after turning 20 years old next summer. However, having been drafted out of a European league, the Lightning could let him stay in Sweden for up to two more seasons before losing his rights. It’d be best for his development to come over in the next year or two though.
At this point in time, Alnefelt looks like he has the potential to be a solid backup goaltender in the NHL. With Andrei Vasilevskiy secure in his role as a starter for the foreseeable future, producing a dependable back-up goaltender has to be fairly high on the development priorities for the Lightning. Alnefelt could potentially spend the next 3-4 seasons developing before making his way into the NHL as Vasilevskiy’s backup.