Anchorage goaltender Isaiah Saville hit the jackpot Saturday — he got drafted by Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights picked Saville in the fifth round of the National Hockey League draft on Saturday, making him the 135th pick overall.
It’s a match between two impressive up-and-comers.
The Golden Knights, of course, are the two-year team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season of play — losing to the Washington Capitals — and lost in the first round of this season’s playoffs.
Saville is an 18-year-old who has been a rising prospect for a couple of years, a trajectory capped this season by his selection as USA Hockey’s goaltender of the year.
He led West High to the state high school championship as a freshman before heading out of state to play junior hockey. He just wrapped up an excellent season with the Tri-City Storm of the U.S. Hockey League; he finished the regular season with 25 wins in 32 starts, including four shutouts, had a USHL-best 1.90 goals-against average and posted a .926 save percentage by stopping 845 of 908 shots.
He plans to play college hockey next season for Nebraska-Omaha.
“Extremely honored to be drafted by Vegas. Proud to be a Golden Knight,” Saville tweeted after the Golden Knights called his name.
Earlier this week, Saville was one of 44 players, including four goalies, invited to USA Hockey’s World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. The week-long camp is essentially an audition for the U.S. team that will play in December’s 2019 World Junior Championships.
Saville is left-handed, 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds. He’s the 40th Alaskan to be drafted by an NHL team and the first since 2017.
He is the second Alaska goalie to be drafted in the last three years — Jeremy Swayman, a standout for the University of Maine, was taken by the Boston Bruins in the fourth round, 111th overall, of the 2017 draft.
Two Alaska-raised goaltenders have played in the NHL, but neither of them were drafted. Ty Conklin of Eagle River retired in 2012 after 11 seasons, posting a record of 96-67-21 with 17 shutouts. Pheonix Copley of North Pole had 16 wins in 24 starts this season for the Washington Capitals, his first full season in the league.
Another undrafted Alaska goalie, Andrew Shortridge of Eagle River, recently signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks and is expected to play in the American Hockey League next season.
Alaskans drafted by the NHL
2019 — Isaiah Saville 5th Las Vegas Golden Knights
2017 — Jeremy Swayman 4th Boston Bruins
2017 — Croix Evingson 7th Winnipeg Jets
2015 — Kris Oldham 6th Tampa Bay
2013 — Stephon Williams 4th Islanders
2012 — Austin Wuthrich 4th Washington
2012 — Brian Cooper 5th Anaheim
2012 — Hunter Fejes 6th Phoenix
2009 — William Wrenn 2nd San Jose
2008 — David Carle 7th Tampa Bay
2004 — Brandon Dubinsky 2nd N.Y. Rangers $$
2004 — Moises Gutierrez 6th Pittsburgh
2004 — Mike Curry 7th Los Angeles
2003 — Matt Carle 2nd San Jose $
2003 — Nate Thompson 6th Boston $$
2002 — Jason Ryznar 3rd New Jersey $
2002 — Joey Crabb 7th New York $
2001 — Steve Belanger 7th Phoenix
1999 — Barrett Heisten 1st Buffalo $
1999 — Will Magnuson 5th Colorado
1999 — Matt Shasby 5th Montreal
1998 — Scott Parker 1st Colorado $
1998 — Scott Gomez 1st New Jersey $
1997 — Ty Jones 1st Chicago $
1997 — B.J. Young 6th Detroit $
1996 — Scott Parker 3rd New Jersey $
1994 — Brian Swanson 5th San Jose $
1994 — Scott Swanjord 10th New Jersey
1993 — Ken Hemenway 11th Philadelphia
1990 — Glen Mears 3rd Calgary
1989 — Hayden O’Rear 11th Vancouver
1987 — Tony Link 5th Philadelphia
1987 — Clint Thomas 6th N.Y. Rangers
1987 — Shawn Howard 9th N.Y. Islanders
1987 — Bryan Herring 12th Montreal
1986 — Steve MacSwain (supplement draft) Calgary
1985 — Mike Cusack 8th Philadelphia
1985 — Boyd Sutton 10th Buffalo
1983 — Harry Armstrong 5th Winnipeg
1983 — Kory Wright 10th Winnipeg
$ — Played in NHL
$$ — Current NHL player