Counting Down the 30 Best Goalies in the NHL: #15-1
In the 2012 lockout shortened NHL season, hockey fans saw a few outbreak performances from some unknown goalies. Household names like Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick continued to be great netminders while others like Sergei Bobrovski and Craig Anderson almost came out of nowhere and stole the show. Storylines from Bobrovsky winning the Vezina trophy to Marc-Andre Fleury falling apart in the playoffs made this season a unique one for goaltending.
The goalie may not just be the single most important position in hockey but in all of sports, which is why this list of the top 30 goalies in hockey is so valuable. There are many goalies in this upcoming season that can move up or move down on this list. Lists like these are always subject to change, and rightfully so. Finding a consistent goalie in this league is difficult, but if you can he will be the backbone of the team.
Note: This list is the best 30 goalies in hockey, not just starting goalies, which is why you may see two goalies representing the same fortunate team. Yesterday I revealed #30 – #16 – be sure to give that a read. Today, we begin with #15 and slowly make our way to the #1 goalie in the NHL.
15. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
Arguably the greatest goaltender of all time ranks number 15 this season. The 41-year-old netminder’s season was derailed by injuries and since the Devils acquired another goalie capable of splitting time with him. This should allow Brodeur to play around 30 -45 games this year. It’s what’s best for the team and for Marty. If he stays healthy, this could be a great conclusion to an illustrious career.
14. Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars
After an unsuccessful start to his career in Atlanta, Lehtonen has found success in Dallas. I have a lot of faith in this upcoming Stars season and it involves Kari Lehtonen staying healthy and playing like the 2011 Kari Lehtonen. There are some questions of consistency which will be answered this year.
13. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
A few years ago, Ryan Miller held an unquestionable spot in the top five of goalies in the NHL. Now after the core of the Sabres team falling apart, Miller has been in trade rumors the past year. The best thing that could happen to Miller would be to get traded and have a fresh start in a new city. A healthy, fresh Ryan Miller can get back to his old ways of stopping pucks and winning games. The question is: Will he be traded?
12. Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes
This past season for Cam Ward was basically a wash. He was injured all season, only playing in 17 games. Carolina’s season went down the drain as soon as he was injured, which is a testament to how vital he is to their success. Already the recipient of a Conn Smythe award, Ward has proven he can perform in the playoffs and is one of the most consistent goalies in the league.
11. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiéns
Carey Price’s ranking may come under some scrutiny. I can understand if you believe he is ranked law or too high. Price would have solidified a top 10 goalie spot if he had performed well in the post season, but unfortunately for Habs fans, he played very, very poorly. This upcoming season, it’s up to Carey to decide if he is elite or not.
10. Corey Schneider, New Jersey Devils
This is the first year in 20 years that there’s a Devils goalie better than Martin Brodeur. Corey Schneider was shockingly traded to New Jersey during the first round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, solidifying the role of Brodeur’s successor. Schneider is 27 and coming off of a good regular season, followed up by a disappointing playoffs. He was pulled mid way through the Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks first round series due to his poor play in favor of disgruntled Roberto Luongo. Since Vancouver has been a mess these past few seasons, I don’t blame Schneider that much. Schneider has been a great goalie for the Canucks these past few years and is capable of taking over Brodeur’s job once he hangs up the skates.
9. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators
Behind all of the weirdness that is the Daniel Alfredsson story this off season is a great Senators team. The backbone of that team’s name is Craig Anderson. Injuries derailed his regular season and if he wasn’t injured, Anderson had a solid chance at winning the Vezina trophy. His .941 Save % and 1.69 Goals Against Average led the league despite the fact that he played only 28 games. Despite losing to Pittsburgh in five games in the second round of the playoffs, Anderson can go into next season healthy and help the Sens get back to the playoffs.
8. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
The naysayers can finally quit it because Corey Crawford won a Stanley Cup. Many people didn’t believe in him, and I will admit, I was skeptical of him before the 2013 season started. Fans backed off of their praise for the Blackhawks due to goaltending questions but now that he had such a strong performance this season, it’s hard to doubt him now. Now that his confidence is at an all time high, I feel comfortable putting him as a top 10 goalie going in to 2014.
7. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Feel free to disagree with me on this pick, as many have presented a valid argument: He’s played behind a great defense. But this past season was his first without Nicklas Lidstrom and it was his strongest season to date. Last season, he played the most playoffs games in his career(14), his 2nd best save percentage (.923) and his second best goals against average (by one point, it was 2.13). He just signed a six year, $31.8 million contract and I believe will continue to get better and move up this list.
6. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Talk about a breakout season. After being traded from Philadelphia to Columbus, Bobrovsky was set to battle Steve Mason (who is now Philadelphia’s goalie, go figure) for the starting job. Bob went on to start 38 games with a .932 save percentage and capture the Vezina trophy, all while playing behind a poor Columbus defense. The only question is can he continue to play this way in an 82 game season?
5. Antii Niemi, San Jose Sharks
Niemi had the strongest season of his career, carrying a San Jose team into the playoffs and pulling off a sweep of the Canucks. Antii was nominated for the Vezina Trophy and made a strong case to win it. He has already been the goaltender on a Stanley Cup winning team in 2010 with Chicago, adding to his stellar NHL career.
4. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne by all means can be the best goalie in the world on any given night. He has size (6’5″) that you can’t teach and a great ability to use his size to stop the puck. The loss of Ryan Suter in free agency last season didn’t help his stats, but make no mistake that Rinne is an elite goaltender.
3. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
It’s Tuukka time! Often the expression used in these last playoffs, it was well deserved. He played phenomenally last season and his .940 save percentage was the best out of all goalies in the postseason. He is still young and will continue to be the backbone of the Bruins for years to come.
2. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
The self proclaimed “King” of New York had another solid year in net. He came close to capturing his second Vezina, and although he didn’t his numbers still speak for themselves. The one knock on him is that he hasn’t won a Stanley Cup which is fair to say. I’d say it’s the number one reason he isn’t top dog on this list. The only way to dethrone Quick is to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup.
1. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
The man with the coolest name in hockey clocks in at number one. Coming off of one of the best playoff performances in the history of goaltending, this season was actually somewhat of a down year if you look at his numbers. His .902 save percentage and 2.45 goals against average were both down from the season prior. Although his regular season was sub par, he had another great postseason which seems to be his specialty. With a cup under his belt, Jonny Quick can continue to build his legacy in Hollywood.
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