Monday, March 1, 2010

USHL Prospect Report-Clay Witt

Clay Witt (SF), is a goalie that's growing on me more every weekend. Witt took over for Eric Hartzell during last year's USHL playoffs. There was a lot of conteversy in Sioux Falls last year as many fans thought they should start Witt instead of Hartzell, who happened to be coach Kevin Hartzell's son. After two very solid games against Lincoln in that playoff series, (1-1, 2.49 GAA, .935 SV%), coach Hartzell decided to go back to his son Eric, a decision that ultimately cost them the series to Lincoln. I was in Lincoln watching Witt for 1 1/2 games and he was great, as much as it displeased me as a Lincoln supporter.

Witt stands at 6'1", 200 pounds, which is about average for goalies. I know I sound like a broken record here, but I'm going to say it again, he stays square to the shooter which makes him so good. Unlike the other goalies I've written about, Witt's stronger side is his blocker side. Where the blocker side in most junior goalies is their weakness and where they give up the most goals. He can shoot that blocker up and kick rebounds out to the corners. This season he has a respectable 2.65 GAA and .905 SV%.

While Witt's blocker is his strength, he does have a weakness. Clay leaves a lot of juicy rebounds out there and it leads to most of the 85 goals he's allowed this year. His glove hand is average, which makes him fade into the middle of the goalie prospect pack. Overall, his skillset is decent, not great, but above average for sure.

Witt is commited to play Northeastern University after his USHL career. Witt is currently 19, so it would be my best guess that he goes on and plays there next season. After Witt's play of late, I would not be suprised if an NHL team with an aging goalie or an uncertain goaltending future takes Witt with a late, late round pick and maybe turns him into a project that can eventually get to the pros.

I know I get quite a few visitors here every day and I don't get very many comments on my posts, so please leave a comment if you have anything to add, anyone can comment, and you can even comment anonymously.


  1. As someone who is also currently breaking into the amateur scouting world I enjoy reading your comments. While my area of focus is more on the area of New England hockey, I see that you do have a knack for player evaluation I think you need to tamper down your expectations of both draft picks and pro development. While I think some of the players you have been profiling will indeed make it to the NHL, not every person you have profiled will be drafted this year and even fewer will make it to the show. Of all americans registered with USA hockey there are an average of 9 Amerians per berth year in the NHL. While the USHL is a great and ever improving league and the guys you are profilinig are the creme of the crop (Jack Campbell I think will be a bonafide star) the CHL is still going to produce talent a faster rate. Keep blogging, keep evaluating, but please lower your expectations just a little bit for pro success.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I can understand where your coming from. I probably do expect too much out of these players and I'll take that into consideration when posting articles in the future. I do think that while the CHL is the primier junior league, the USHL is catching up very fast with the expansion to Muskegon and Debuque. So I would say that the USHL and it's prospects are definitely worth keeping your eye on.

  3. Clay is very strong in one on one situations. In fact in his last outing he was put in the game for a shoot out. He came in cold, and still beat the #1 team in the USHL. Stopping 4 of 5 attempts

  4. Yeah, like I said in my post, Witt has been playing great as of late and it can only help his case.

  5. Witt's rebounds are not as juicy as was written, but yes he needs to improve on them. I had Witt rated higher than Mike Lee in last years draft. But northeastern is a good fit for him with Rawlings on the verge of signing a contract. He has a strong mental outlook and studies the game well for one so young.

  6. We are all entitled to our own opinions, and just think that Witt gives up quite a few rebounds out to the slot. If he could start kicking them out to the corner, he could improve his situation more and more. I don't think he is a better prospect at the moment than Mike Lee right now though. Lee's statistics in the WJHC make him far superior. I do agree with you on Northeastern bring good fit for him. I don't know about his mental stregth as I really haven't talked to anybody about that, I have watched him play and his mechanics are solid, which makes him a good goalie prospect.


Keep it clean, and don't attack individual players.