2021-22 Team: Erie Otters (#79)
Date of Birth: February 14, 2004
Place of Birth: Kingston, ON, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 186 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
The Erie Otters were ready to use the 2021-22 season to finally turn the page on their last few losing seasons. On paper, that appeared to be a likely outcome. Although they were a young team, they were skilled and had an experienced goalie in Aidan Campbell ready to lead them.
Then game one came and it wasn’t Campbell who was starting. 17-year old Nolan Lalonde got the call on opening night against the Flint Firebirds. Despite losing 3-0 that night, it was clear why many folks around the Otters and the NHL were excited for the future of this goaltender. He stopped 30/33 on opening night while not allowing a goal until very late in the second period.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
It’s difficult enough for any 17-year old to start in the OHL. But for Lalonde to jump in and start on opening night said volumes. All I could think about after that game was “this kid is going to be a good one.”
As it turned out, Campbell suffered a hip injury in which surgery was needed. The initial thought was that he would miss the entire season while rehabbing and recovering. This made Lalonde the Otters’ number-one starter for the balance of the season. This is where you have to be careful judging his season just based on his numbers.
Lalonde finished the 2021-22 season with a 24-25-3 record with a 3.62 goals-against and an .877 save percentage. On the surface, these numbers look concerning. But then when you consider his workload and the team that played in front of him, it puts these numbers in a different perspective. The Otters went through a mid-season coaching change. They were a very young team with little experience compared to their competition. There was a talent gap. But yet Lalonde still won 24 games despite all these things working against him.
Need evidence of just how hot a commodity Lalonde is? At the Erie Junior Showcase that took place in June 2021, scouts from 30 NHL teams were present at some point. Which player was the most asked about? It was Lalonde. Why? That’s because many think he will be one of the best goalies in the OHL over the next couple of seasons. They also think his game will translate at the next level. In addition to being a popular name, he played on Team Canada at the recently completed U-18 tournament. He won his one start and posted a .917 save percentage.
So what stands out about Lalonde? The first thing you’ll notice is his demeanor. He is extraordinary collected when circumstances are tough. He brings a level of calmness that resonates with his teammates. He has a good sense of knowing when to keep the play going or when to put a stop to things. For someone who just turned 18 in February, this was impressive to watch.
On the ice, Lalonde is able to cover a lot of ground despite being slightly undersized at 6-foot-1. He uses his athleticism and skating to his advantage. He is able to go post-to-post and is good at challenging shooters and cutting down their angles. His anticipation really shines in these moments.
As with any young goalie, Lalonde has plenty of room for improvement. In particular, there were times the Otters needed a timely save and weren’t able to get it especially if the opposition scored in bunches. While the calmness is there, he is improving in his ability to rebound quickly after a tough stretch. He can also stand to improve on his positional play. He could have prevented some goals had he been more ready for the shot.
Overall, anyone who drafts Lalonde is getting someone who is highly competitive but can also calm things down on the ice when necessary. Although he’s somewhat undersized, his athleticism makes up for that and has him in position to be one of the best goalies in the OHL upcoming.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Nolan Lalonde — NHL Draft Projection
There just isn’t much in the way of high-end goalies available early in the draft. But savvy and patient teams will use a late-round pick on Lalonde given his potential usage and his upside. Landing an upside goalie with a sixth or seventh rounder is a good piece of business for any NHL team. Given the buzz Lalonde had amongst scouts last June, don’t be surprised to hear his name called.
“Nolan has a tremendous work ethic and has committed himself to being a true leader both in the classroom and on the ice. Nolan has adapted to the return to the classroom, his new home in Erie, and the pressures of his first OHL season while being a role model for his teammates.” -Jaime Cieszynski, Erie Otters’ Director of Administration
“(Lalonde) is a competitive person but he has a calm demeanor about him. In a game where he sees something go behind him, he doesn’t show that he’s upset. In practices he’s really competitive with goals that go in he thought he should have had he gets really upset about them. His demeanor is pretty even keeled especially in a game and especially for a young goaltender. He was put in a situation that wasn’t ideal for him to start. We thought he handled it really well.” -B.J. Adams, Erie Otters’ Head Coach
- Calm Demeanor
Under Construction — Improvements to Make
- Positional play
- Ability to rebound after tough stretches
Lalonde’s potential will depend on the team and situation he lands in. He wouldn’t be expected to make an NHL impact for several seasons. But with time, patience and development, he has the tools you like to see for someone hoping to make an NHL impact one day.
Risk — 2/5, Reward — 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — n/a Defense — n/a
Lalonde played for Team Canada at the last U18 tournament. He was also named OHL Midwest Division Academic Player of the Month for November 2021. He was also named OHL Goaltender of the Week for the week of Jan 9, 2022.
Nolan Lalonde Statistics
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.