Being an NHL goaltender is said to be one of the hardest positions in all of sport. It’s hard to win any hockey game if your goalie is having a night off and it is becoming more and more the case in the NHL. Goalie is perhaps the hardest position to draft but is integral to formulating a Stanley Cup winning team. Though the Hart Trophy has only been taken home by a netminder twice in the last 16 seasons, no one takes a good goalie for granted.
These are the top 10 NHL goalies entering the 2018-19 season.
Top 10 NHL Goalies of 2018-19
Honourable Mention: Matt Murray – Pittsburgh Penguins
At just age 24, Murray has done almost everything that could’ve been asked of him as a Penguin. He had a successful rookie year and eventually translated it into his first of back-to-back Cup-winning seasons. He even put up numbers in 2017 that made for a strong Conn Smythe bid. However, since his impressive 2017 playoff run, he has hit a rough patch. Despite playing in the same amount of games in 2016-17 and 2017-18, Murray saw his wins save percentage and goals against average drop significantly. There’s a ton of time left for Murray and he will be a top goalie in the NHL for a long time if he rebounds from a poor showing last season.
10. Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
Holtby lost his starting job at the end of the Capitals regular season in 2018 but he did rebound in the playoffs. The 2016 Vezina winner had a rocky regular season but redeemed himself having another good playoff run in 2018. For a team that has typically fallen short of expectation in the postseason, Holtby has always been a shining star; posting a career playoff SV% of .929 and a GAA of 2.04. His regular season stats took a shot after his campaign last season but Holtby will most likely return to the great form he held from 2015-17. Sure, he has always had a very impressive defensive-core in front of him but Holtby has been one of the biggest parts of the Capitals continuing ability to win the Metropolitan Division.
9. Frederik Andersen – Toronto Maple Leafs
In Andersen’s two seasons as a Leaf, his stats have been very similar but fairly solid. He also plays behind one of the least conservative defensive units in the NHL. The lack of defence has definitely put his stats in jeopardy but Andersen has been a great find for Toronto after so many years of starting goaltending trouble. Now at age 28, Andersen finished 4th in Vezina voting in 2018 and had a decent playoff run behind a clearly outmatched Leafs team. Now going into 2019, Toronto looks like one of the best teams in the entire NHL and Andersen’s numbers could see large improvements.
8. Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins
Though Rask has recently fallen out of the conversation of best goalie in the NHL, he is still one of the elite goaltenders in the game. His overall numbers have taken a hit after going four years – 2012-2015 – with a save percentage above .922, but he has still collected the fourth most wins over the last three years. The Bruins were the only team able to overtake the Lightning at any point in 2018 and it was largely in part because of the Bruins 4th best goals against rank. Though Rask has probably passed his prime, he is still a reliable goalie who knows what it takes to win in the regular season and playoffs.
7. Marc-Andre Fleury – Vegas Golden Knights
After playing a large part in two of the Pittsburgh Penguins three most recent Stanley Cup conquests, Fleury almost captured another ring during one of the most improbable runs in modern sports history. Fleury willed the Knights in his first year in Vegas to a dominating playoff run after having a similarly dominant season. He finished the 2018 regular season 4th in SV% and 3rd in GAA among goalies who started over 30 games and finished 5th in Vezina voting. Wins were always easy to come by behind one of the most talented teams of the modern era but the 33-year-old proved he is more than just a goalie who profited off of a great team’s success. Fleury has revitalized his career after being benched in Pittsburgh and is now the face of the Golden Knights.
6. John Gibson – Anaheim Ducks
Until Andrei Vasilevkiy’s breakout season in 2018, Gibson has been hands down the best young goalie of the past three seasons. Going into his 5th season as a full-time NHLer, Gibson is still only 25 years old and has an incredibly impressive resume. His games started, wins total and save percentage have increased every year since 2015 and he captured one Jennings trophy in the partnership he formed with Frederik Andersen. He has still never made an All-Star game but that is sure to change if his numbers keep rising the way they have recently. At the pace he’s set, Gibson definitely has a chance to push anyone in the league for the title of best goalie in the NHL in the very near future.
5. Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning
2018 was one heck of a breakout year for the young Vasilevskiy. Before the All-Star break, the 24-year-old Russian lead the league in wins, shutouts, save percentage and goals against average but had his play slip a bit to end the year. He was still able to finish the year as a Vezina nominee and help the Lightning to the best record in the Eastern Conference. This was also Vasilevskiy’s first year as an NHL starter. He spent three seasons as a backup prior but was always seen as a franchise goaltender by Lightning brass. He showed flashes of dominance in his first playoff run posting back-to-back 38 save wins against Washington while posting a .941 SV% in Tampa’s opening series against the Devils. If 2017-18 was a preview of the rest of Vasilevskiy’s career, the young netminder might be the best goalie to ever come out of Russia.
4. Jonathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings
Part of the duo to take home the Jennings Trophy in 2017-18, Quick had another good season with the Kings leading them back to playoffs and the least goals conceded in the NHL. He also had a very impressive postseason despite being swept out in the first round, putting up a .947 SV% and 1.55 GAA. The showing was nothing new for the veteran as he has become one of the best playoff goaltenders of his generation. Quick is currently ranked second – only behind Rask – among active qualifying goalies in regular season GAA and should keep climbing the chart behind one of the West’s better defensive units. After gathering the Stanley Cup in two out of three seasons back in 2012 and 2014, Quick needs to have another big year to get LA in a position to win their first playoff series since 2014.
3. Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
Price may be the most talented goalie in the NHL right now but he is coming off a down season that saw his Canadiens fall to near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. 2017-18 was easily his weakest season of the 2010s but it was largely in part to playing on maybe the least talented team in the NHL. This past season will likely go down as an outlier in Price’s studded career in which he has won almost every trophy there is for an NHL netminder to win. Price has been a First-Team All-Star, Best Goaltender at the Olympics in 2014, has won the Vezina, Jennings, Pearson, and Hart Trophies as well as Olympic and World Cup gold medals as a starter. The question will always be; can the Canadiens assemble a team in front of Price good enough to win a Stanley Cup.
2. Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators
The last two years for Rinne have been impressive. He has guided his team to a Stanley Cup Finals in 2017 and took home the Vezina for his first time in 2018. After being a nominee for the award three times, it still feels like Rinne still doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s been one of the steadiest goalies in the NHL over the past decade while multiple backups have tried to take his job, been great for a team that’s strength is defence, and only enjoyed minor lulls in play. Though his stats are not off the charts, Rinne has almost always been the best player on a team that has made the postseason four years running. Rinne still plays behind the best defensive unit in the NHL and baring the effects of age, should have a similar season to the one he had in 2018, in 2019.
Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets
Bobrovsky is the only goalie on this list to have won multiple Vezina’s and he’s done it on a team that before his arrival was a mess. During Bobrovksy’s six-year tenure in Columbus, the team has never once finished in the top-10 in league goals for but has finished three times in the top-10 in goals against. They had also only made the playoffs once in the eleven years before acquiring Bobrovsky. Eight years into his career, Bobrovksy currently only trails three other goalies on the all-time SV% leaderboards and has only had one season with a sub .918 since joining the Jackets. His career GAA is 2.44 but drops to 2.37 in years he’s played in Columbus. Bobrovsky is just the kind of goalie who keeps his composure, makes saves, and goes about his business quietly. No goalie is consistently outperforming him right now.
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