We continue our annual prospect review and forecast series with Garin Bjorklund, goaltender for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League (WHL). (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Bjorklund, a 6’-2”, 180lb goaltender from Grande Priaire, Alberta, was drafted by the Capitals in the sixth round (#179 overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Bjorklund, 19, has yet to be signed by the Capitals.
In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, Bjorklund played for the Calgary Buffaloes in the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) at the Midget AAA level.
Bjorklund played for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the 2019-20 season and the tail end of the 2018-19 season. He was the backup goalie for the team and in 28 games, posted 20-5-1 record, a 2.91 goals against average, and a save percentage of .897.
Despite being a backup, Bjorklund was rated as one of the Top 5 North American goalies in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. He shared the net with 19-year-old Mads Sogaard, whom the Ottawa Senators drafted in the second round in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Bjorklund spoke about Sogaard, “Having him as a good buddy, a role model and someone to look up to, I think that definitely helped me with my rookie season. Watching him go through all this last year definitely helped me this year, showed me what I needed to get better on and helped me to keep pushing. My goal was to get drafted, and hopefully I can do that.”
In the season, Bjorklund went 10-7-1 with a 2.60 Goals-Against Average and a .921 Save Percentage for Medicine Hat.
2020-21 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2020-2021 season. (You can find all of our weekly and monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu).
Bjorklund remained idle and awaiting the start of the WHL season. He’s been essentially without structured games since early March of last year. In the meantime, the Capitals’ sixth-round draft pick in 2020 is keeping sharp in his backyard.
Bjorklund played in two games for the Medicine Hat Tigers with a Goals Against Average of 2.97 and a Save Percentage of .889. Those game took place on February 26 and 27 and he was the winning goalie in each of those games.
Note: the Medicine Hat Tigers had not started their season until February 26. He also played in four games for the Grand Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for the 2020-21 season (AJHL) where he had a Goals Against Average of 2.73 and Save Percentage of .936. All four of his games with the Grand Prairie Storm took place in November 2021.
Bjorklund is 5-3 with 2.73 GAA and a .911 save percentage including one shutout so far in the 2020-21 season.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 7, 2021
He was 3-3, giving up 16 goals on 192 shots for a .833 save percentage in the month of March.
Bjorklund was 4-3-0-1 in eight starts in the month of April. He was named the third star of the game on April 29.
For the season, Bjorklund is 9-6-0-1 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA in 16 games played. Bjorklund has the ninth best save percentage in the Western Hockey League.
Bjorklund played in two games in the month of May, winning one and losing one, but had a strong showing in both games. He stopped 62 of 66 shots faced for a .939 save percentage in the two games. For the season, Bjorklund went 10-7-1 with a 2.60 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Bjorklund was drafted as part of the Caps’ strategy to gamble on players who the scouts thought could have higher potential than what was widely believed. With Bjorklund being a backup, albeit a heavily used backup, Caps figure he will continue his upward trajectory and be the primary goalie for his junior team.
Bjorklund will return for one more season with Medicine Hat before being considered for a move up to Hershey for the 2022-23 season. He will need a strong showing this season if he is to make that jump next year.
By Jon Sorensen
2020-2021 Prospect Reviews And Forecasts