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Justin’s 1st Annual Pre-season Top 30 Goaltenders List (30-21)

Welcome to Justin’s first annual Top-30 goalies list.  I hope you guys enjoy this little exercise, because it was an absolute blast to put together.  In this first edition, I will run down the goalies ranking 30-21.  Following this post, 20-11 and 10-1 will be revealed.

Before we get to it, I wanted to explain my methodology for compiling this list.  “Top” in this case is something of a moving target.  Basically, it’s the order in which I would want to see a team pursue a goaltending solution.  There are keepers included here for potential, durability, present value and experience.  For example, obviously Jose Theodore has accomplished more in the NHL than Jonathan Bernier at this point, and at present, I could entertain an argument that Theodore is a “better” goaltender.  However, Bernier has a ton of upside and star potential and I’m not going to sell him short because he hasn’t gotten his shot yet.  Ok, got all that?

Without further adieu, Goaltenders 30-21

30. Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings- While Bernier might not have starting experience in the NHL as of yet, he certainly has the talent to excel in the role.  It seems the Kings are always on the verge of trading him so he can spread his wings in a place with more opportunity, but there is no such thing as too much quality goaltending.

29. Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets- I know I’m going to take some heat for putting Steve Mason anywhere near this list.  I still believe in the talent of Steve Mason, even if the execution and the results are lacking.  I’m sure a change of scenery would help the former Rookie of the Year winner recapture his game as well.  Given the choice between a performance rebound and a complete slide into oblivion, I’ll take the former.  Feel free to skewer me a year from now.

28. Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers- The former first round pick hasn’t quite put it all together since his call up in ’09-’10, but the 6’5”, Regina SK native has the talent to be an above average starter in the league.  Whether he ultimately hits his ceiling is up for debate, but I have no problem betting on his upside.

27. Brian Elliot, St. Louis Blues- Brian Elliot is at number 27 on this list because that is where his talent level places him.  The media jumped the gun big time this year proclaiming him to be a suddenly high end starter, but in reality Elliot is best served in a tandem with a strong defensive unit.  His numbers would get ugly in a hurry playing for a team like Columbus or Calgary.  He has shown improvement since his journeyman days of Ottawa and Colorado, but forgive me if I need more evidence before proclaiming him a bonafide #1 for a contender.

26. Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton Oilers- Yes, his best days are behind him, but the Bulin Wall showed last season that he still have plenty in the tank with the proper amount of rest.  Dubnyk should be the perfect compliment to Khabi as he develops into a full time starter.  Or at least until the Oilers find a number one goalie to draft first overall.

25. Antti Neimi, San Jose Sharks- Neimi is on this list solely based on raw, physical ability.  We all saw what kind of goalie he can be in 2010, but his lack of discipline and control in his execution renders him maddeningly inconsistent.  He has all the physical tools to be a top end netminder, but all of the hockey sense and dedication to his craft to end up in the KHL when his contract with San Jose expires.

24. Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche- Varlamov is a very similar goaltender to Niemi in a lot of ways.  His physical gifts actually eclipse the Shark’s keeper, but showed signs of putting it together in Colorado. (We all remember the gem he brought to MSG last season).  It’s up to him to prove he was worth the 1st round pick the Av’s surrendered to secure his services.

23. Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild- Harding will have to wait until 2013-14 to show what he’s got as the starter in Minny, but I think he will do just fine when the time comes.  He’s a southpaw, which is always fun, and he is a disciplined, athletic keeper with solid positioning and instincts.  He won’t be elite by any stretch, but he should be a solid to above average starter in his prime when he takes over.

22. Anders Lindback, Tampa Bay Lightning- 2012-2013 will mark the former Predator’s coming out party as a Number 1 goaltender.  He has a ton of upside and should mature into a well above-average starter.  There are a lot of similarities to his old partner, Pekka Rinne, in Lindback’s game.  If he uses his 6’6” frame as well as Rinne does, Steve Yzerman will have gotten a huge bargain on a top-end goaltender.  Even if he takes a while to get the hang of the starting thing, he has a very capable backup in Mathieu Garon to help ease some of the pressure.

21. Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets- Pavelec almost bolted to the KHL this off-season before accepting a 5-year, $19.5 million contract with the Jets.  Pavelec has adjusted fairly well to NHL play in his three full seasons thus far, and has upside well beyond what his current play would indicate.  This year, however, is when the Jets are looking for the 24-year old to lose the training wheels and anchor the crease in Manitoba.  He has the potential for the biggest move up or down in the rankings next year, but the potential is definitely there.

Honorable Top 30 mentions

  • Jose Theodore
  • James Reimer
  • Michal Neuvirth

Up next will be numbers 20-11, and make sure to let me know your thoughts on the rankings in the comments section!

* Just for the sake of clarity, Tim Thomas was not included in this list due to his decision to sit out next season.  If he were playing, he would have ranked some where in the 20-11 portion of the list.

19 Responses to “Justin’s 1st Annual Pre-season Top 30 Goaltenders List (30-21)”

  1. Kevin Baumer says:

    Very curious to see where Markstrom lands, if he does.

    • Chris says:

      Markstrom has huge upside but surely he can’t figure in the list. Yet. I’d like to see him get a good chunk of game time this yr. Intriguing prospect.

      Great post Justin, enjoyed seeing your take.

      • Justin says:

        Thanks Chris, much appreciated. And you are correct, Markstrom needs a solid year in the show before he cracks the list…don’t worry though Kev, I have no doubt he will make an appearance sooner than later.

    • Dave says:

      If Luongo lands in Florida, it’ll be interesting to see where Markstrom ends up.

  2. Tim B says:

    Is there going to be an annual preseason Top 30 LW, RW, C & Defensemen?

    • Justin says:

      I know I won’t be doing those! I think goalies are easier to whittle down in rankings because they’re aren’t nearly as many of them. If one of the other guys feels motivated, I think it would be an interesting read.

    • Dave says:

      I won’t be doing that….too many names to choose from. As Justin said, goalies are a lot easier.

      • Chris says:

        We (is this me volunteering?!) could do top 30 forwards and defense ones? each forward position seperately would be very hard

  3. Chris in MA says:

    “27. Brian Elliot, St. Louis Blues- Brian Elliot is at number 27 on this list because that is where his talent level places him. The media jumped the gun big time this year proclaiming him to be a suddenly high end starter, but in reality Elliot is best served in a tandem with a strong defensive unit. His numbers would get ugly in a hurry playing for a team like Columbus or Calgary. He has shown improvement since his journeyman days of Ottawa and Colorado, but forgive me if I need more evidence before proclaiming him a bonafide #1 for a contender.”

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

    That is all.

    • Chris in MA says:

      I also loved this:
      “Just for the sake of clarity, Tim Thomas was not included in this list due to his decision to sit out next season. If he were playing, he would have ranked some where in the 20-11 portion of the list.”

    • Dave says:

      Justin hasn’t been on the Elliot bandwagon for a while. He thrived in the right spot.

      • Chris in MA says:

        I havent been on any of the Halak/Elliot/Thomas/Varlamov/Neuvirth/Holtby/Bryzgalov trains that the media has been driving the last few seasons.

        Theyre all (seemingly) viewed as elite goalies by the media/fans thanks to outlier seasons… when they simply arent.

        • Justin says:

          Glad you appreciate the snark with regard to those guys Chris. I agree on Elliot, Thomas, Varlamov (to an extent), Neuvirth (although I don’t think the media is overly high on him).

          I think Halak is an above average starter, and I think Holtby is the real deal. Bryz is interesting because he is solid but the style of play he employs can be maddening when every goal is scrutinized.

  4. Spozo says:

    I’m assuming that Dipietro wasn’t named here because you have him ranked lower?

    • Justin says:

      Correct you are, sir. You have to play more than 5 games per season while being effective when you do in order to qualify for the list…

      • MBN says:

        You mean this is not ranked based on annual salary, or average salary per game played? :)

        Oh, now I understand. :)

  5. rob sahm says:

    where does stinkin bryzgalov rank

  6. Pete says:

    When do the 20-11 and top 10 lists come out?