Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25: Jiri Patera adjusting to pro level following injury

The 22-year-old has appeared in three games with the Henderson Silver Knights.

Knights On Ice’s 2020-21 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. The KOI staff members created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that formed the final rankings

Jiri Patera was part of the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural NHL Entry Draft and was selected in the sixth round (No. 161 overall) in 2017. He was taken two rounds after Vegas drafted another goalie (Maksim Zhukov), though Patera has established himself as one of the top goalie prospects in the Golden Knights’ system.

He finished just above goaltender Isaiah Saville in our rankings, though it was close; Patera was ranked as low as 14th and as high as 11th.

No. 12: Jiri Patera

  • Age: 22
  • Position: Goalie
  • Currently playing: Henderson Silver Knights
  • Nationality: Czech/

Patera played the last two seasons in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings, and he’s coming off a particularly impressive season that did not go without recognition.

He finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 24-12-4 record along with a 2.55 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 41 appearances; he also recorded five shutouts. As a result, he was named the WHL Eastern Conference Goaltender of the Year, and he finished as the runner-up for the league-wide award.

He signed a three-year entry-level contract with Vegas last June.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the 22-year-old, though. Patera started this season on injured reserve, and he didn’t make his AHL debut until March 26.

But now he is one of two goalies patrolling the crease for Vegas’ AHL affiliate, and he should see a heavier workload moving forward despite being the No. 2 behind Logan Thompson, who has been excellent.

Patera is 1-2-0 in three games with Henderson, posting a 4.10 goals-against average and .876 save percentage. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound backstop has given up 12 goals in those three games, and his most recent game — last Friday against Bakersfield — was his worst yet, as he yielded five goals and finished the game with an .821 save percentage.

The numbers are alarming, but it’s a very small sample size, especially for a player coming off an injury who had his final season in major junior cut short by the pandemic. It’s way too soon to pass judgment on his performance so far, but despite his most recent game, he did win his first AHL start, and he finished his second game with a .912 save percentage.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, but Patera has shown an ability to make highlight-reel saves at key moments. There’s a slight hint of Marc-Andre Fleury in his playing style; his form is unconventional at times, but he makes desperation saves as he propels himself across the crease, doing whatever is necessary to make the save.

Part of that is due to positioning and rebound control, two areas of his game he needs to work on.

But there’s a lot of promise for Patera’s future, and with Fleury signed through the end of next season and Robin Lehner at the start of his five-year deal, Patera has time to adjust to the pro level and continue to refine his game.

Goalie prospects require more time and seasoning for development than skaters, but Patera is on his way to showing one way or another if he has what it takes to be a goalie at the NHL level.

Previously in the Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 2020-21 Series:

Honorable mention: Layton Ahac
No. 25: Jonas Rondbjerg
No. 24: Jake Leschyshyn
No. 23: Paul Cotter
No. 22: Keegan Kolesar
No. 21: Ben Jones
No. 20: Marcus Kallionkieli
No. 19: Lukas Cormier
No. 18: Pavel Dorofeyev
No. 17: Brandon Kruse
No. 16: Peter DeLiberatore
No. 15: Connor Corcoran
No. 14: Ivan Morozov
No. 13: Isaiah Saville