There’s an old saying in hockey: you’re only as good as your goalie is. It is extremely tough to win in the NHL without top-notch goaltender play, which makes finding the perfect netminder a dubious task.
Here are the top 10 goalies in the NHL today.
10. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
The elder statesman of the group, “Bobby Lou” is still an A-quality netminder. Luongo may be 37 years old, but he had an excellent season last year, notching 35 wins and backstopping the Panthers to the playoffs, where he stepped up his game even more.
Few are more dependable than Luongo. He has a flair for the dramatic and is also remarkably consistent on a day-to-day basis. Luongo has never won a Stanley Cup yet, but his Florida Panthers have their best shot in years with him between the pipes.
9. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
The reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a bit of a conundrum on their hands in the goalie crease. Stud Marc-Andre Fleury guided the Penguins to a playoff berth with some of his best hockey in years, but when he got injured in the last week of the season, it was hotshot rookie Matt Murray who led the team all the way to the top of the pinnacle.
But with Murray out for 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, it’ll provide old reliable Fleury with one more chance as a starter. Fleury has finally overcome his playoff demons and is actually almost an underrated goalie these days. His status will be interesting to monitor at the trade deadline and the Expansion Draft.
8. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Martin Jones finally got his time to shine last season, and the lanky netminder rolled with it. He won 37 games and picked up 6 shutouts in the regular season before stonewalling the opposition in the playoffs. Jones is the undisputed starter in San Jose for the first time in his professional career.
It is sometimes tough to come up with an encore for such a dominant season, but Jones seems ready for more. He has excellent reflexes, plays with confidence, and can be a top-five goalie in the league as soon as this season if he keeps up his level of play.
7. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Corey Crawford never received his due for years and years, and even now at age 31, some still foolishly doubt Crawford. He has never played 60 games in a regular season, but he is always there when you need him. He has averaged a GAA of 2.21 and a SV% of .923 over his last 4 seasons, and has also won 2 Stanley Cups over that time.
Crawford led the league in shutouts last year, putting to rest an old rumor that he wasn’t a shutout goalie. Crawford is a complete goalie with clutch to spare.
6. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
The man they call “Hank” is still an upper-echelon goalie after all these years. He has never won less than 30 games, never had a GAA above 2.50, or had a SV% lower than .920 since 2009. It is true that Lundqvist endured his worst statistical season last year, but even Lundqvist at his worst is better than 25 other goalies at their best.
The time for a Rangers’ Stanley Cup run may be running out, but don’t tell Lundqvist. He remains as driven as ever to finally grab that elusive Stanley Cup ring, the only major award Lundqvist has yet to win.
5. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
An interesting debate every year lies with the placement of Jonathan Quick among his goalie peers. Quick never has as impressive statistics as his counterparts, but he does have 2 Stanley Cup rings and superlative playoff stats on his resume.
Quick isn’t a by-the-book technical goaltender, but some of the best ever are the best due to their uniqueness. The fact remains that whenever you need a big-time win, you can’t do much better than Jonathan Quick as your goalie.
4. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
On the other hand, Ben Bishop is everything that Jonathan Quick isn’t: he is a statistical darling, a very technically sound netminder, and the league’s tallest goalie. Bishop had his finest year ever last season, accumulating 35 wins, 6 shutouts, and a 2.06 GAA and .926 SV%.
Despite all this, Bishop’s future in Tampa Bay is uncertain due to the presence of young goalie Andre Vasilevskiy. One of these goalies will likely be lost at the trade deadline or the expansion draft. Bishop’s injury sunk the Lightning’s Stanley Cup hopes last year, but as long as he’s healthy, the Lightning have as good a chance as ever to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
3. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils
Poor Cory Schneider. He may be the league’s best all-around goalie, but his teams around him always find a way to fail him in the end. He never got a fair chance in Vancouver due to the presence of Roberto Luongo, and now in New Jersey, the Devils are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
Schneider is a privilege to watch play. He has the best reflexes in the NHL, an active glove hand, and is even a good puck handler. The thing that sets Schneider apart, much like his predecessor Martin Broduer, is that he never has a bad game.
2. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Coming off of a regular season in which the Capitals won just about everything, it was very disappointing to see Washington falter in the playoffs yet again. Holtby though tried his hardest, setting records left and right. He tied the NHL record with 48 wins in a season, and his 2.20 GAA and .922 SV% paced the NHL.
Holtby only had 4 shutouts though, and hasn’t had tremendous playoff success. If Holtby can clear the final hurdle, he’ll be in a class all by himself.
1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Anyone who doubted that Carey Price was the most valuable player in the NHL was silenced this past year when they saw just how awful the powerful Canadiens looked without Price in net. The Canadiens went from a Stanley Cup contender to a flat-out pretender without Price, whose lower-body injuries limited him to just 12 games.
But Price is healthy and better than ever for the 2016-17 season. He recently backstopped Team Canada to a World Cup of Hockey Championship earlier this month, cementing his status as the league’s best netminder. When Price is in action, there is simply no one better.