Minnesota is known as the ‘State of Hockey’ for good reason. This state has produced countless NHL players and is home to numerous Division 1 college hockey programs. But despite the abundance of talent that the state has produced, there is one position that has been less represented than the others: goaltending. That’s what makes Dallas Stars’ young and talented goalie Jake Oettinger’s rise to the NHL all the more impressive. The 23-year-old from Lakeville, Minn. is one of only a handful of goalies from the state this season to stand between the pipes in the NHL, and the only true number-one starting netminder for their team.
Oettinger was one of five Minnesotan goaltenders who made starts for an NHL team this season. The five included Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.), Capitals Charlie Lindgren (Lakeville, Minn.), Blackhawks Alex Stalock (St. Paul, Minn.), Panthers Alex Lyon (Baudette, Minn.), and Blackhawks Jaxson Stauber (Plymouth, Minn.).
Out of all five, Oettinger was the only full-season starting goalie for their team. He started in 62 of 82 games for the Stars. The next best was fellow Lakeville native Charlie Lindgren who started 31 games for the Washington Capitals. Oettinger’s save percentage was atop of this list as well, as he sported a .920 Sv% while the next best was Baudette Minn. native Alex Lyon who had a .914 Sv% on the season.
So now that you have a good idea of the NHL version of Jake Oettinger, let’s go through how he got to be not only one of the best Minnesota-born goalies but one of the best goaltenders in the entire NHL.
To do that, let’s go back to the 2013-14 Minnesota boys’ High School hockey season. A very young Jake Oettinger played one season for Lakeville North, helping his team advance to the state title game against Edina where they fell short 8-2. Oettinger had a great season prior to the state tournament, as he had a .931 Sv% and three shutouts. Some other notable players on the 2013-14 Lakeville North team included Jack McNeely, who played five seasons at Minnesota State Mankato serving as the assistant captain for two of them. Nick Poehling, who played four years with St. Cloud State Univ. serving as the captain for two of them, and Ryan Poehling who just finished his fourth season in the NHL, currently with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After a year with Lakeville North, Oettinger went on to play with the U.S. The Under-17 National team represented Team USA. He would end up sharing the net with Joseph Woll, who is currently a goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They both split 29 games each. Oettinger was the better of the two with a .916 Sv% and 2.57 GAA.
Oettinger spent the next six seasons with the National Development team and Boston University, moving up to the Under-18 group, and eventually making the Under-20 roster during the 2017-18 season. Oettinger started three games in the WJC during their Bronze medal run. He was also one of the top college goaltenders in the nation while with Boston University.
His accolades were plenty during his collegiate career. In his first year with BU, Oettinger was named to the NCAA (Hockey East) All-Rookie Team, and Second All-Star Team, and was included as an NCAA (New England) D1 All-Stars. During the 2017 NHL entry draft, Oettinger was selected No. 26 in the first round by the Dallas Stars. He was drafted a pick after the Montreal Canadians picked his Lakeville teammate Ryan Poehling.
Oettinger completed his collegiate career sporting a .923 Sv% and a 2.39 GAA in three seasons as the starting goalie for the Terriers. He went straight from the NCAA to the AHL, where he made six starts for the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars.
The 2019-20 season is where Oettinger showed his potential. He posted a .917 Sv% and three shutouts in his 38 starts for the AHL Texas Stars. This type of consistency was all Dallas needed to give him a spot on the NHL roster. Oettinger was involved in a rotational role during 2020-21 with veteran goaltender Anton Khudobin. Oettinger was the better of the two, with .911 Sv% and an 11-8-7 record on a team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
In the 2021-22 season, Oettinger won the starting job in Dallas over former Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup Champion Braden Holtby. This was the season where he established himself as one of the premiere goaltenders in the NHL. Oettinger had a good regular season, helping the Stars get to the playoffs, as he sported a .914 Sv% and 2.53 GAA, he also had a 30-15-1 regular season record. Though these are good numbers, the playoffs are where Jake Oettinger became a superstar in the NHL.
Jake Oettinger led the league in save percentage during the first round of the playoffs with a .954. His analytic stats had him at 13.28 goals above expected in the seven games against the Flames. The only goalie in Dallas Stars history with a better save percentage in a single round was Ed Belfour, who had a .967 Sv% in the 1998 second-round win over the Oilers.
“That’s the level of goaltending I expect from myself,” Oettinger said during the first round of the 2022 playoffs.
The Dallas Stars were defeated by the Calgary Flames in that best-of-seven-game series, but without the incredible play of goaltender Jake Oettinger the Stars most likely wouldn’t have won as many games.
The 2022 NHL playoffs will always be remembered as Oettinger’s “shining moment” in the NHL, but he obviously wants to win a series. Well, that’s exactly what he did in 2023, and against his hometown team.
The Dallas Stars finished with 108 points, good enough for second in the Central Division. This got the Stars paired up with the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It took six games for the Stars to defeat the Wild in the best-of-seven series. Oettinger was excellent in the series against his hometown state. He ended the series with a 2.01 GAA and a .929 Sv% while adding the first shutout by any goalie in the playoffs.
Oettinger has shown he is a dominant goalie in the NHL. He plays at his best when his team needs him the most, which is a quality that is key to winning the Stanley Cup, something the Stars feel they can do this season.
Jake Oettinger is already one of the best goalies in the NHL, but how does he compare all-time to other Minnesota-born goalies?
Oettinger is already eighth all-time in games played with 139, he sits under Bob Mason (International Falls, Minn.) who finished his career with 145 games played. The only active Minnesota-born goalie above Oettinger is Alex Stalock (St. Paul, Minn.) who is currently No. five all-time with 179 games played.
Now to the statistics, Oettinger currently has the best save percentage of all Minnesota-born goalies who started 100 or more games, with a career of .916 Sv%. There were a couple of goalies who hailed from the State of Hockey, who played over 100 games, but played before the save percentage was tracked as a stat in 1983. This list includes; Frank Brimsek, who won two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins. Brimsek played 514 total games while sporting a 2.70 GAA and had 40 shutouts, so if you want to look at all-time great Minnesotan goalies, Brimsek would be atop that list. The other NHL goalie who played before they started using save percentage as a stat was Mike Karakas. Karakas won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1938. He played in a total of 336 games and held a goals-allowed average of 2.91. These are a couple of Minnesota goalies who paved the way for all that would follow in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Jake Oettinger is only 24 years old and has been in the NHL only three seasons, so it is too early to crown him the top Minnesota-born goalie, but his career trajectory is heading into legendary territory. He’s already a franchise goalie, a playoff weapon, and a bonafide star in the National Hockey League. So if nothing else, he is a role model for all Minnesota goalies who have dreams of playing on an NHL tea.
Check out Jake Oettinger’s stats throughout his career on Elite Prospects – https://www.eliteprospects.com/player/247982/jake-oettinger