Last month, Yahoo! Sports ranked the top 30 goalies in the NHL. The list accounts for the 30 number one goalies in the NHL, which means that every team was represented once and a few solid “back-up” netminders didn’t make the list.
For instance, the famed Martin Brodeur is noticeably absent from the list. After New jersey traded for Cory Schneider in the offseason as the heir-apparent to Brodeur, Yahoo! believes that Schneider will get the majority of the starts in New Jersey, making him the number one guy with Brodeur being the so-called back-up. Wise choice? Maybe, maybe not. Like many team, it’s likely that New Jersey will support a 1a and 1b goalie tandem, with the surer goalie winning out for the playoffs. If nothing else, that keeps both players fresh for what the team hopes will be a long playoff run (we’ll see).
Leaving Brodeur off of the top 30 goalies in the NHL list isn’t the only questionable call. The top four goalies are pretty much spot-on. In order, the top four are Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask. Any given season, these players could occupy the top four spots in any given order. Right now, they are the best-of-the-best.
After that, things start to go a little haywrire on their rankings. Sergei Bobrovsky had a great season last year with the Columbus Blue Jackets, winning 21 games, and was a large reason why the team was even fighting until the final days of the season for a playoff spot. But listing him at the number five position? That might be a bit too much for a largely unproven starter who has failed to show statistical consistency in the NHL. Placing Bobrovsky at five over goalies such as Carey Price, Corey Crawford or Jimmy Howard seems more like wishful thinking than anything. If you were to rank goalies by their value to the team, sure, this could make sense. But listed as the fifth best goalie in the NHL? Probably not.
Carey Price and Mike Smith are listed at six and seven respectively. Price has been solid for many seasons and will be counted on to help lead the Canadiens to the Holy Grail of Hockey. Smith is a tough call. Outside of Smith’s outlier season in 2011-12 when he led the Coyotes to the Western Conference Finals, he has experienced a very inconsistent career. Even last season his numbers dipped and were, well, pretty average to say the least.
The rest of the list beyond that is a matter of opinion. Listing Roberto Luongo at number nine is questionable just because of the fact that last season he was delegated to the backup role in Vancouver and has been competing for the starting role for the better part of two seasons now. He will be Vancouver’s go-to guy in the fall, but it remains to be seen how he will perform with the spotlight squarely on him again.
It’s surprising that both Jonas Hiller and Ryan Miller are listed above Jimmy Howard, who really could make a strong case for at least being in the top 10. Miller’s stats have been slipping the past few years, and he hasn’t been the strong force in goal that we are used to seeing. Statistically, Howard was better than both of these goalies last season. Hiller has only won 30 or more games once in his career, while Howard has done so in three of his four seasons as the starter for the Wings. So it’s interesting that Howard’s name wouldn’t appear on the list until more than halfway down at 17.
The biggest surprise is seeing Marc-Andre Fleury at No. 22. News of Fleury’s struggles the past few seasons are no surprise, especially when, at 28-years-old, Fleury should be in the prime of his career. He still had better stats last season in 33 games played than many of the goalies listed above him, but when you play with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, evidently it’s Stanley Cup-or-bust each season. But to be relegated to the bottom 10 is a bit of a slap in the face for Fleury.
The great thing about this list is that, while debatable, when the new season rolls around in a few weeks it’s a fresh beginning for every goalie listed and a chance to improve their stock. This list could—and likely will—look completely different after the completion of next season.