Justin’s 6th Annual Top 31 Goaltenders List (10-1)

You got nothin’ on the Beeze

Well, here we are.  The Top 10.  We have covered my 31-11 ranked goaltenders over the past couple of weeks, but this is the main event.  If you missed either of those entries, including all of our criteria and other housekeeping issues, feel free to check them out here and here.  Now, I know we will all be in unanimous agreement that these rankings are wise and accurate, but in the unlikely event that there is the occasional disagreement, feel free to make your voice heard down in the comments section.

I present to you, the Top 10…

  1. Cory Schneider- New Jersey Devils (last year’s rank: 3)
Schneider- NHL.com

Whether you are looking at advanced or traditional statistics, Schneider had a down year last season. There are a couple things to keep in mind here.  First, is that Schneider plays for a god-awful Devils’ team, which is undoubtedly going to skew the stats a bit.  Second, and more concerning, is that he plays a (comparatively) traditional style, which isn’t quite as effective against the current speed of the game once your athleticism slows down a bit. Since the BC alum is getting into his thirties, it is fair to start to wonder if and when that is beginning to happen. I am still very confident that he has several very good years remaining, but there is some cause for concern here.

  1. John Gibson- Anaheim Ducks (last year’s rank: 27)
Gibson- NHL.com

Gibson took a major step forward this past season, which is particularly impressive given how the Ducks rushed him to the show a few years back. I thought it would take another year or so for Gibson to start putting up big numbers, but his talent apparently wouldn’t be denied.  Gibson is one of those rare tenders who can match his athleticism up with technique and maintain his poise and concentration at a young age. A goaltender on the rise, don’t be surprised to see Gibson continue to climb this list into the league’s elite in the coming seasons.

  1. Jonathan Quick- Los Angeles Kings (last year’s rank: 10)
Quick- NHL.com

Quick is a funny case, he went from ridiculously overrated to almost underrated in just a couple seasons. There was a big rift between the traditional and stats community about Quick’s value a couple seasons ago, as he put up fairly pedestrian numbers in the regular season, but was seemingly able to elevate his game to super human levels in the playoffs. While he did miss a large chunk of this past season due to injury, Quick had a very strong advanced stats profile in a limited sample (17 games) upon returning, and looked a little less interested in running and sliding around his crease like a crazy person.  He may have been a little timid from the injury, but I’m hoping he is embracing a more conversative game plan as he enters his thirties.

  1. Cam Talbot- Edmonton Oilers (last year’s rank: 22)
Talbot- USA Today Sports

Cam Talbot is a true testament to what quality coaching and embracing your strengths can do for a goaltender. Talbot always had good athleticism and movement capabilities, but was very raw and reactionary.  Benoit Allaire took those raw skills and Talbot committed to a game plan that would allow him to play into his strengths without giving away goals. He brought his crease depth back comfortably into the paint, he quieted down a lot of the excess movement in his stance and save execution and learned how to play within his game.  It’s been quite the impressive feat for the University of Alabama-Huntsville product, joining the upper-echelon of NHL net minders.

  1. Matt Murray- Pittsburgh Penguins (last year’s rank: 18)
Murray- Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Murray is a strange case to try to rank. One one hand, he has two Stanley Cups and ridiculous statistical profile, both traditional and advanced, especially for a 23 year-old. On the other hand, he has started a grand total of 60 games in his career and plays on an immensely talented Penguins team. Going under the hood a bit more, his style and skill level indicate to me that his current statistical performance are a good indicator of things to come. He has a technically disciplined style, tremendous athleticism and high-end vision. There are certain aspects of his game that still need fine tuning (footwork, post-recovery, etc.), however, his current skillset should allow him to develop those fringe skills and continue his trajectory into the elite of the elite.  In case you couldn’t tell, I’m very bullish on Murray.

  1. Corey Crawford- Chicago Blackhawks (last year’s rank: 9)
Crawford- Jonathan Daniels/Getty Images

Crawford had a little bit of a down year by his standards, but the Hawks’ as a whole were more inconsistent than we are used to seeing, and that doesn’t fall to their goaltender. Crawford is a goaltender you can set your watch to.  He is about as consistent as any in the game, even if he doesn’t have the sexiest skill set.  Many compare him to a systems quarterback, and that he is only successful because Chicago is so talented. It’s always possible that is the case, however, I think you would get similarly consistent performance profile from the Quebec native regardless of where he played. I know that doesn’t sound like high praise, but Crawford has spent his entire career being a rock, not a game stealer, so throwing out a bunch of superlatives about his game just wouldn’t be his style.  The crazier thing is that he is going to turn 33 this season, which to me is nuts. I think his style will age gracefully, but he is entering those “are they/aren’t they” decline years.

  1. Sergei Bobrovsky- Columbus Blue Jackets (last year’s rank: 19)
Bobrovsky- NHL.com

Ever since Bob took over the starting gig in Columbus, he has begun to chip away at the criticism that he has a goaltender more interested in showing off his athleticism than committing to his craft. My ongoing concerns about the soon-to-be 29 year-old has been that flash over technique style that he played in Philadelphia, but no more. He has paired his elite athleticism with a structured technical base and it has created one of the very best goaltenders in the game.  It’s no fun that he plays for a division rival, however there is always something satisfying about seeing another one get away from Philly. That and the fact that he is a well-spring of meme worthy material about being the worst cop on the force.

  1. Henrik Lundqvist- New York Rangers (last year’s rank: 1)
Lundqvist- NYTimes.com

Now, before everyone gets all up in arms here, I’m going to remind you that this ranking is 1) not a ranking of the best performances from last season and 2) a recommendation about pursuing a goaltender for this coming season.  I fully understand and acknowledge that Lundqvist had a sub-par season, both from the perspective of his own typical performance and the expectations set upon the Rangers. However, I am confident of Lundqvist’s return to form for this season.  If you aren’t, that is your prerogative, but given my observations about his struggles last season and his competitive nature, I’m never going to bet against the guy. One day I will be wrong, but I’d be willing to wager its not this year.

  1. Braden Holtby- Washington Capitals (last year’s rank: 4)
Holtby- SI.com

If you have been reading my work here over the past few years, you know that I am a big Holtby fan. The guy pairs so many elite carrying skills together, it’s not even funny. This past season, under the tutelage of vaunted goalie guru Mitch Korn, Holtby took an even bigger step forward. He is basically Carey Price-lite at this point in his career, even if the guys in front of him can’t figure it out in the playoffs. The Caps have a rock back there who can not only steal games, but put up big numbers over the long grind of the season. At almost 28, he has a ton of good years left, but I’m starting to get concerned about the Caps squandering his prime as the Rangers have Lundqvist’s.

  1. Carey Price- Montreal Canadiens (last year’s rank: 2)
Price- Montreal Gazette

Oh, Carey Price. There really isn’t much more to say about the guy other than he takes what probably should be a lottery team and makes them a contender pretty much every year. The biggest criticism of Price at this point is that he can’t literally drag his poorly constructed roster directly to the Stanley Cup. Every one of his carrying skills is elite; vision, footwork, mobility, reflexes, recovery. You name it, it’s elite. His new contract is probably going to get very ugly at some point, but I’m really hoping that Price isn’t going to go his entire career without a Cup, even as distasteful as it would be as a Rangers fan to see the Habs win. The guy is a Hall of Fame talent.

There you have it.  Like I said, wise and accurate. As always, this list was a blast to put together and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for making BSB a great New York Rangers community.  We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we love getting your feedback.  If you have any suggestions for next year’s list, or any BSB content, in general, feel free to shoot myself or any other the other writers and email or drop a line on Twitter.  I hope you enjoyed the list as much as I did, and be sure to stay tuned to BSB for continuing Rangers coverage throughout the coming season!

"Justin's 6th Annual Top 31 Goaltenders List (10-1)", 4 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
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  1. Pretty good list Justin. IMO, Just as Price deserves to be number 1, based on his poor team, Holtby shouldn’t be number 2, based on his great team. I would swap him and Bobrovsky. Not that the Blue Jackets weren’t very good, but I still don’t think they were no line for line match with the Caps. Just my opinion. Great job!

    1. Holtby has been more consistent the past four seasons, but Bob’s inconsistencies have been mostly injury related. When healthy like we saw this year, I agree he’s top 3 with Hank and Price.

      1. Holtby’s consistency has yet to be matched by Bobrovsky. Bob has had 2 fantastic years balanced out by 2 poor ones in his career. And except for this past season Holtby has been really solid in the playoffs.

  2. Lunquist has been a great rangers and terrific goalie for many years, however the past 2 1/2 years he has been average. That is pretty understandable given his age and past workload. But IMHO he is no longer a top 10 goalie, more like middle of the pack.

    1. With Girardi out and Staal possibly playing a reduced role, the actual Hank will be revealed this year. There should be a rebound, just not expecting much of one considering nobody beats Father Time.

    2. Lundqvist had a .927 save percentage in the playoffs, after his career-worst save percentage of .910 in the regular season. He stole round 1 from a consensus top 3 in the NHL goalie in Carey Price. Hank’s year wasn’t ideal but he was still in top form when it mattered most last year. He’s done this numerous times in his career, posting higher save percentages in the playoffs vs regular season. It’s gonna be great to see Hank bounce back this year, not least because it should humble his doubters.

      1. Stole round 1 ??? Montreal scored 11 goals in 6 games. Pacioretti failed to score….except for radulov, weber and gallagher very few canadians showed up!!! Hank also blew game 2 by giving up tying goal with less than minute to play and bad rebound goal in OT !

        And he was badly outplayed in the ottawa series by anderson, blew a two goal lead in game 2 and blew 2 OT games. We should have beat ottawa in 5 easy!

        If hank is such good playoff performer why did we lose to LA Kings after going into 3 rd period with leads 3 times and losing twice ….IF I remember correctly.?????

        1. RE: LAK vs. NYR

          Game 1: Tied going into the 3rd. OT loss. I believe we can all probably recall Girardi coughing up the turnover that led to that game-winner. Hank could not have done anything about it. Two Hanks might not have been able to do anything about it.

          Game 2: (3rd period) King scored on a play that in many instances would draw goalie interference to make it 4-3. Then Gaborik came up with an unassisted goal after a hectic scramble in front of the Rangers net to tie it up. Neither one of these goals were particularly due to Lundqvist screwing up. 2OT winner was Dustin Brown deflecting Willie Mitchell’s shot. If there’s one game of this series you blame Hank, it would be this one. But still…it’s not like these goals were routine/pedestrian saves that the goalie completely whiffed on.

          Game 3: Rangers lost 0-3. First two goals were deflected off Rangers players and in, which clearly was the goalie’s fault. Final goal was a pass that managed to rebound off a Rangers player and right back to Richards who then had an open net because Hank properly shifted over for the pass and couldn’t get back fast enough once it magically bounced off a Ranger and right back to Richards. Pretty sure even Richards was surprised by that one.

          Game 4: Hank stopped 40 out of 41 shots, Rangers won 2-1.

          Game 5: Gaborik tied it at 2 on a power play goal in the 3rd. In OT, a 3-2 breakaway resulted in a rebound to a wide-open Alex Martinez, and that was that. The Kings took 51 shots in that game.

          FIFTY. ONE.

          But yeah, sure. That series was definitely all Hank’s fault. SMH

          1. Well said, Egelstein. You speak the truth, as opposed to the slanderous BS Rich S is throwing around.

          2. There is a huge difference between not being a hero and being a goat. Would the J S Giguere of the 2003 playoffs have won the LA series? Probably. Would the Hamburglar of his great run have won the Series? Probably. How about the Hank who faced the Penguins that year? Quite possibly. Should Hank have won the Series? Probably not.

            One can’t blame Lundqvist for losing that series UNLESS UNLESS UNLESS you insist that he is a god who has done everything possible with what he has had to work with – as so many here do.

          3. The Hamburglar? seriously? You’re mentioning him–he’s barely an NHL player. Hammond is a mediocre goalie (at best) who’s only played in 30 NHL games in the last 2 seasons. One brilliant 24-game run from 3 years ago doesn’t change the fact that Hank is a far superior player.

          4. glad to see you weren’t distracted by reading what I wrote. I never said Hammond was better than Lundqvist. To quote me, “the Hamburglar of his great run”. I was talking about what he would have accomplished if he had timed his brilliant 24-game run for the playoffs. Of course, Hammond was not as good as that run. One can’t fairly judge Giguere by his 2003 Conn Smythe. One can’t judge Tim Thomas by his 2011 Cup triumph.

            Those were all unreal performances. But unreal is clearly not impossible – and Hank, while better on balance than any of those goalies, has never achieved unreal – except maybe to win an Olympic gold.

          5. “One can’t blame Lundqvist for losing that series UNLESS UNLESS UNLESS you insist that he is a god who has done everything possible with what he has had to work with – as so many here do.”

            …. So now you’re blaming Lundqvist for not out-doing one of the greatest playoff goaltending performances ever?

            And, because he hasn’t done such a thing (despite coming close more than once), we should blame him for failing to win?

            Come on Ray… you’re being ridiculous. It’s a team sport.

            Looking back at past winners, had the Rangers actually won a cup with any roster they’ve assembled during the Lundqvist era (so, 2005-now)… from a talent perspective…

            … they would have been the weakest championship team of them all, regardless of which year theoretically ‘won it’.

            They all pretty much suck relative to any of the cup winning teams.

            It’s really not even close when you think about it.

            … But yeah, keep blaming one of the most talented goaltenders ever to play the game. Whatever floats your boat, man.

          6. ….They’re also not the same team today that killed us in the finals.

            That being said… the Kings would have beaten any roster of ours (2005-17, your choice), and they could do it with either of their championship teams.

        2. Rich S:

          So…..a GAA of less than 2.00 in a playoff series is bad? And Hank stinks because he DIDN’T allow Pacioretty to score in the series? You don’t think a goalie has anything to do with…um…preventing goals from being scored? Do you even read what you post? Everything you say in your first paragraph backs up what I’ve said about Lundqvist. Maybe it’s time you either coherently back up your slander against one of the greatest Rangers to ever wear the uniform with statistical evidence, or pipe down and show him some respect.

          I guess you’d say Mike Richter stinks too, after all he gave up a game-tying goal to Zelepukin in the game 7 in 1994 vs the Devils with less than 10 seconds left in the game. Not to mention he the Ron Francis center-ice goal from spring of 1992. Is Mike Richter garbage now too?

          1. When did I say Lunquist was ‘garbage’?????
            I made two points, 1. He has been average the past 21/2 years……..and
            2. He has blown leads for us in the playoffs too many times to be an all time great.
            We needed him to be that just once in the playoffs and bring us a cup!
            But I do consider him the best rangers goalie ever!

          2. I agree with you Rich, that overall Hank is not as good the last to seasons, but that has to do, with his consistency. The key word is CONSISTENCY. At times he has been as brilliant as ever, but faltering(like he never has in the past) at the same time. The reality is that inconsistency is a sign of decline and that in itself, makes him not the same elite goalie he was years ago. Raanta was able to take some of the workload during the year off Hank when he was faltering. Sometimes depending on the player, when getting older, it is better to play less games because of inconsistency due to fatigue, or lack of mental alertness. He did come back strong in the end and into the playoffs. I hope Allaire can work some magic with our new backup goalie which can effect Hanks year for the better as he gets older.

      2. I gotta agree with MC here, but I would like to point out that his very solid stats this past season could have been due to a pretty inept Montreal offense. The caveat being here being that NYR’s defense made that offense look pretty good (same with Ottawa’s) and that Hank still had to make the stops, which he did.

        I am interested to see how this season fairs. I’m concerned NYR has lost some offensive punch from last year, but the D looks like it has been solidly re-tuned. I think this will show in Hank’s stats in that he should see fewer shots and the quality of shots should be lower, which gives Hank a great opportunity to post very good numbers. If NYR can figure out a 1C solution, it’s not unreasonable to think about seriously challenging Pittsburgh.

        1. Montreal’s forward group was bad enough that last year’s defense could actually handle it a little. Unlike most series in recent years where the Rangers held opponents to a low total of goals, it wasn’t necessarily because Hank stood on his head, this time. Nice change of pace there!

          There’s a reason Girardi looked better in that series than during pretty much any week-long stretch in the prior two years: MTL had a serious lack of forward speed. Their bottom six was just bad, and even their top six wasn’t exactly rife with speed and snipers. Simply put, they made our worst defenders – and our coach’s decision to often put said worst defenders out in crucial moments because French Math – actually look serviceable.

          1. French Math?!?

            I chuckled.

            I’ll chuckle even harder if The Great Yzerman signed Girardi solely on the basis of looking somewhat serviceable against a woefully overrated Habs squad.

          2. Did you not know about AV’s “French Math”? That was a phrase he coined after a practice early last season, haha. I wasn’t picking on actual French folks’ math skills, I swear!

            This was AV’s response at an after-practice press conference in October 2016, when asked if Boo Nieves might play the following day, from a USA Today Rangers general summary type post:

            “I would say 50/50 right now,” Vigneault said. “I would say more no than yes.”

            It was pointed out to him that would make it less than 50/50, Vigneault laughed, “That was French math.

            “But in the back of my mind here, I’ve got him, because I heard he played so well in Traverse City and the one game he was able to play for us … I like that size and I like that skating.”

          3. Yzerman has what Lundqvist will likely never have and that’s a couple of Stanley Cup rings.

            With Girardi and Klein now gone, Henk will get peppered every game and fans here will be looking for a new scapegoat to blame for Lundqvists poor performance.

          4. …. You know what else Yzerman had during his career (that Hank hasn’t)?

            A supporting cast of HoFers.

          5. Nah, Girardi and Klein are done. Grit and toughness is nice, but if you can’t get around the ice, all that grit and toughness is rendered moot.

            Klein and G were gamers, hard working and honest hockey players, but the game sped past them. The Rangers D corps and overall team D will be far better this year without the two of them.

          6. Bloomer…you cant be serious. Why you hate Hank so much is truly beyond me.

            AWDS, perfect response.

      3. If you ignore last season and compute Hank’s career save percentage and expected him to have the same career save percentage in the playoffs, you would get 270.5 goals. He actually gave up 268 goals.

    3. The first half of last season, I’d say you were correct.
      However he was certainly elite every other season from 11-12 to 15-16, and should have been a Vezina finalist in 15-16 if not for a putrid penalty kill system bringing his overall numbers down.
      And as far as 2016 playoff, he did get a stick jabbed in his eye in that series, I hear vision is important when stopping pucks.
      Read up on Nick Mercadante’s analysis of that year to see what i mean.

  3. Nice list. Thanks for the effort.

    While I do not agree with all your rankings, they are within reasonable placement where I would have these guys, for the most part. My main quibble would be Gibson. You have him 9th. I would have him in the top 3-4. He’s really that good. For weird reasons (business travel, vacation), I actually saw quite a few Ducks games this year. He is outstanding, and really moves very well back there. Seems to always be in position for the next shot, even after a sprawling save.

    Job well done.

    1. ANA is kinda my second team that I follow as a result of living in LA for 12 years until this past May, and a good friend being a complete Ducks fiend, and hating the Kings since their fan base is seriously the most band-wagon fan base I’ve ever seen in any sport…so I’ve seen him a lot, too. Gibson has all the tools. He’s about to that age where many goalies put it all together though, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he solidifies his spot higher in these rankings next season.

      Last season, he also had one of the better defenses in the league in front of him, in fairness…but a couple of their key pieces (Lindholm, Vatanen) may be out the first half or so of next season depending on surgery rehabs…so, we’ll see how he looks then. If he struggles, maybe we re-consider his prowess a bit…but if he puts them on his back and shines, then I will say he reached the stage where he put it all together, for sure.

  4. Justin, thanks for another great annual ranking. Always interesting and a reliable highlight of the BSB summer program!

  5. Eg and Mancu-

    Could not agree with you more. Absolutely no doubt Hank stole the Montreal series. Just another in a long line of playoff series that he has stolen over the years.

    And Rich, seriously? Your blaming Hank for NOT beating a Kings team that mostly overwhelmed us? He was the reason we were even in it.


    1. It’s funny how perceptions can vary so widely on the same game or series. I remember the rangers getting off to some surprising strong starts on a few quick plays on fresh first period legs but overall getting dominated in most areas of the ice, particularly as the games wore on, and eventually surrendering those leads to a superior team. Others seems to remember the rangers playing strong games with commanding leads and only losing those games because one man couldn’t backstop them to victory.

      I assume the truth is somewhere in-between, but damned if can talk myself into seeing the other side of things.

  6. Who has said Hank is a god? He’s a great player who, to this point, hasn’t been able to win it all because he has been surrounded with players who aren’t anywhere in the same class as he has been. He is the Patrick Ewing of this team.

    Hockey is a team sport. To win it all requires more than just a HOF goalie. Until that changes, winning it all is not a realistic possibility unless just about everything breaks just right.

    1. Who said Hank is a god? You among others. The true mark of a god is not the ability to do anything – but the ability to get credit for everything.

      Hank played well against Montreal. He did not steal the series. A goalie does not steal a series against an inferior group of skaters by giving up 11 goals in 6 games.

      And Tim Thomas won a Cup in 2011 with a team no better than the Rangers have had a number of times. Since you believe that only a great team can win the Cup, you anoint any Cup winner as a great team. Most Cup winners are better than the Rangers of late – but not all of them.

      The telling thing is that only one or two persons in this thread is slamming Hank. The basic argument is about whether or not he is carrying the team or doing a reasonable job.

      Hank will be in the HOF because he was very good for a long time.

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