Aug
14

Justin’s 4th Annual Top 30 Goaltenders List (30-21)

August 14, 2015, by
theatlantic.com

theatlantic.com

Welcome to the 4th Annual Top-30 Goaltenders List. This has been a very interesting year for goaltending analysis. From a research standpoint, this was far and away the toughest edition of the list yet. I had my draft list down to about forty goaltenders before I had to start making the tough decisions. I’m not big into spoiling the list before it even starts, but the fact that I had to leave Mike Smith, Petr Mrazek, Michael Hutchinson and Andrei Vasilevskiy off the list is a testament to the incredible depth of goaltending talent in the NHL right now.

Additionally, I feel the need to qualify criteria for selection. In the past, I have gambled on prospects who have yet to really get their feet wet at the NHL level. This year, the pool was just too large, so I’m limiting the field to goalies who have played at least ten NHL games. The likes of Connor Hellebyuck or Malcolm Subban, who I may have been tempted to include, aren’t going to be eligible. If prospects are your thing, I would recommend heading over to InGoal Magazine and checking out their Top 50 Goaltending Prospects list.

With that out of the way, we have our normal housekeeping to attend to. The format this year remains unchanged; the goal is to advise a hypothetical “team” on how to find a goaltending solution for one year, irrespective of contract status, incumbent goaltenders, contention window, salary cap situation or other non-ability related variables. As always, rankings are highly subjective, so feel free to disagree/call me an idiot at the end of the rankings. If you’re still with me after all that, we arrive at rankings 30-21…

  1. Robin Lehner- Buffalo Sabres. Last year’s ranking: 19

Lehner

  • Lehner finally escaped the depth chart nightmare in Ottawa, only to find himself plunked down in the stripped down and rebuilding Sabres’ crease. It might be an ugly year or two, but Lehner could find himself in the enviable position of backstopping an incredibly talented young team before long. He had a stagnant year last season, marled with injuries and inconsistency, but look for his talent to shine through once the blue line stabilizes in Buffalo.
  1. Martin Jones- San Jose Sharks. Last year’s ranking: N/R

Jones

  • Frustrated with the continuing mediocrity of Antti Niemi and the brutal showing from Alex Stalock last season prompted the Sharks to go pay a hefty price to acquire the former King’s backup from Boston in a flip deal this off-season. The big-bodied Jones (6’4”-187lbs) should be a guy who can counted on going forward. Relatively untested as a starter, Jones put up stellar AHL numbers, averaging about 40 games or more a season. He is definitely one to watch how his development plays out.
  1. Jake Allen- St. Louis Blues. Last year’s ranking: 28

Allen

  • It finally seems like Allen is ready to step up this year and finally take the keys to the Blues’ crease. He showed flashes of brilliance last season, but that consistency at the NHL level has eluded the young Canadian. The talent is certainly there, and with young Jordan Binnington developing nicely, it will be a big year for the 25 year-old. Given the talent level of the Blues squad, he has been put in a very good set of circumstances to find his foot hold as a starter.
  1. John Gibson- Anaheim Ducks. Last year’s ranking: 21

Gibson

  • Even though last year was tainted by injuries and inconsistency for Gibson, as well, I am not nearly ready to give up on his talent. Still only 22 years old, he should continue to develop into a high-end starter. The Ducks brought in Anton Khubodin to serve as a backup for Frederik Andersen so Gibson could get a starter’s workload in the AHL, but I’d be surprised if he was there all season. Even without last year’s development time, he might be the best option the Ducks have to try to get back to the Finals.
  1. Ryan Miller- Vancouver Canucks. Last year’s ranking: 14

Miller

  • Miller has been in fairly consistent decline over the past couple years, but is still a very good goaltender. After a brilliant start in Vancouver, the wheels fell off a little, but he still found a way to win games. He will continue to slide down the rankings, but we will always have 2010, and he has had an immensely enjoyable career to witness.
  1. Jonas Hiller- Calgary Flames. Last year’s ranking: 16

Hiller

  • Hiller continues to be an enigma to me. When I watch him play, he looks solid and relatively consistent. His numbers usually grade out year after year to his career averages at worst. Yet, he continues to lose the confidence in otherwise intelligent coaches, who prefer inferior options. While at 33, he is getting a little long in the tooth, Hiller is still an above-average contributor and perpetually underrated.
  1. Frederick Andersen- Anaheim Ducks. Last year’s ranking: N/R

Andersen

  • Frederik Andersen might be the most vanilla goaltender in all the land. Very competent and calm, but doing nothing particularly well or particularly poorly, the young Dane has cemented himself as the starter for the Ducks this season. He is the safe choice; putting up solid numbers with a high floor, but lacks the upside of a John Gibson. Who knows, maybe the Ducks roster doesn’t need a high-end goaltender, ala Detroit in the 1990’s. Andersen is a quality goaltender, he just isn’t very interesting.
  1. Kari Lehtonen- Dallas Stars. Last year’s ranking: 11

Lehtonen

  • Oh man, what a brutal year for Lehtonen. His numbers took a nose-dive from 2013-2014 and was anything but the stabilizing force in the net in the Big D. From a 10,000 foot view, it could look like the combination of Lehtonen and the signing of Antti Niemi could just fill the crease in Texas with exceptionally mediocre goaltending, the underlying metrics on Lehtonen aren’t that bad. He was completely hung out to dry most of the season, and while not a high-end starter at this stage of his career, Lehtonen is a big time bounce back candidate heading into 2015-2016.
  1. Jaroslav Halak- New York Islanders. Last year’s ranking: 22

Halak

  • The ridiculous start to last season for Halak turned out to be a mirage, as expected, but he did do what basically everyone expected from him: be a stable, relatively consistent presence in the net for a young team. A function he served very well. His contract term may not be fully in alignment with the team needs considering the Islanders accelerated development curve, but he should be fine there for at least the next year or two.
  1. Andrew Hammond- Ottawa Senators. Last year’s ranking: N/R

Hammond

  • As I’m sure you are aware, Hammond had an absolutely ridiculous run during the second half of last year, turning the 27-year old from afterthought to hero in leading the middling Sens to the playoffs. His talent level is obviously not in line with last season’s numbers, but as a classic late bloomer, there is a lot to like here. I don’t have a ton of confidence he will ever his elite or even top-15 status, but “The Hamburglar” should be able to provide a nice tandem with Craig Anderson, who is very effective when not hurt or being exposed by too much playing time.

This was far and away the toughest section to rank, after a ton of turnover from last year (7 goaltenders) and the glut of deserving options. Stay tuned next week for rankings 20-11, and make sure to sounds off with your opinions in the comments.

"Justin's 4th Annual Top 30 Goaltenders List (30-21)", 5 out of 5 based on 5 ratings.
Categories : Offseason

17 comments

  1. Walt says:

    Great shot of Jake the Snake Plante!!!!!!!!!

    They say that he had several hundred stitches in his face when he retired ????????????????

    • Walt says:

      By the way, it was Andy Bathgate who cut his face up real good that night, after Plante speared him earlier in the game !!!!!!!!

    • Chris72 says:

      Great job Justin!! Looking forward to the conclusion of the list. Lehtonen’s plunge could be a sign of things to come. In all fairness, Dallas’ defense is pretty bad. The kid Desrosiers is finally turning pro after a great Junior career, and this will add some additional pressure on Lehtonen. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

  2. Walt says:

    Justin

    Question for you, what is this site’s association with Yardbarker????? It appears that they post an article, then it becomes a thread for the day here !!!!!!!

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    4 ranger prospects made that top 50 list. Life after the king won’t be too shabby.

    • Dave says:

      Goalies are voodoo, so it’s tough to really gauge who will have success at the NHL level. Having more is definitely better.

  4. paulronty says:

    I’d quibble with you abt ranking Hammond that high. His performance was a mirage. I actually think Lehner is a better goalie than Hammond.

    • Dave says:

      I’m of the same thought process. I don’t think Hammond will come anywhere near close to being worth that contract.

      • Justin says:

        I have no problem with that perspective. The reason in my rankings was proximity to prime performance. Lehner still has some development to go, and had a rough season last year. I am still very high on him. Hammond’s peak performance, while not nearly as good as last year’s numbers, should be immediate.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Bang up job Justin. I kind of agree with the sentiment above, but can get on board with your logic. Given that, does team strength play into the process at all? To me, it would be hard not to. In other words would Freddy A rank at all if he was in front of a more porous team? Good teams mask downside….and visa versa

  5. Spozo says:

    And the Ducks just signed a 35 point player to a $16 million deal for 4 years. Nobody tell Joe!

  6. wwpd says:

    1) Justin, great job as ever. Your ranking is always one of the top highlights of the off-season.

    2) Hagelin 4×4.

  7. Spozo says:

    I would have thought Talbot would be on here. He was an honorable mention in last years ranking. Did he move up in to the top 20???