Player rankings have been a massive topic of discussion in the past week or so on social media. The lists flying around have not included goalies, so that inspired me to create my list. The list will be based on statistics like GSAA, GSAx, and Save Percentage. I will also be taking things into account like track record and how long they have been putting together good years.
Statistically, Andrei was not the best goalie in the NHL. Vasilevskiy ranked eighth in GSAA among all goalies, fourth in GSAx and posted a 0.916 save percentage. What makes me rank Vasilevskiy first in the position is I need to see two straight seasons of somebody being clearly better than him. He is also unreal in the playoffs. His lateral movement is unreal, especially for his size and his positioning is very rarely off. Although the Tampa team that won back-to-back cups was loaded, Vasilevskiy was obviously a key part.
Igor put up historic numbers last season ranking first in GSAA, GSAx, and posted a spectacular 0.935 save percentage. The sole reason I do not currently have him at first overtaking Vasilevskiy is that it was his first year performing at this level. There will be a regression in his numbers next year. Due to the absurd numbers he put up this year, there must be. His 0.935 save percentage in fifty-three games played is far from normal. If his regression means he gets it down to a 0.920 that’s still fantastic. Like Vasilevskiy, his lateral movement is very good as he is an athletic goalie. His positioning is also solid not giving shooters much to work with.
Saros was worked to the bone last year and was perhaps the most important part of last year’s Nashville team. The Preds were swept last year after Saros was hurt before the playoffs missing all four games. While I don’t think Nashville would have beaten the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, it definitely would have been closer if Saros was playing. Juuse ranked fifth in GSAA, ninth in GSAx and posted a 0.918 save percentage. You’ll start to see some similarities in the top-tier goalies in the NHL. Much like Vasilevskiy and Shesterkin Saros is incredibly athletic and is good in his positioning.
Nashville has been very lucky transitioning from Pekka Rinne to Juuse Saros similar to the New York Rangers situation with Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin. Nashville should be in good hands with the twenty-seven-year-old goaltender for the next few years.
Hellebuyck and the had a bit of a down year by his standards with the Jets who had a disappointing season missing the playoffs. During this down year for Hellebuyck, he ranked eighteenth in GSAA, eighth in GSAx and posted a 0.910 save percentage. These numbers aren’t stellar but when this former Vezina winner is on his game he’s one of the best in the world. While he isn’t as athletic as the likes of Vasilevskiy, Shesterkin or Saros he still moves well and keeps himself in a good position to make difficult saves look routine. Hellebuyck is a workhorse who has played a lot of games each season throughout most of his career.
With a potential rebuild looming in Winnipeg, Hellebuyck will still be a solid piece year in and year out for the Jets.
While the Canucks had a bit of a disastrous season up until the hiring of Bruce Boudreau, Demko was one of the few who had a good year. Demo ranked ninth in GSAA, seventeenth in GSAx and posted a 0.915 save percentage. With a pretty bad defensive team in front of him and playing sixty-four games, that is a pretty impressive year for the young netminder. With the improved team under Bruce Boudreau heading into the season if Demko can replicate last season, the Canucks should be fighting for playoffs.
Markstrom had an absolute monster second year in Calgary. The Swedish netminder ranked third in GSAA, fifth in GSAx and posted a 0.922 save percentage. The Flames had high hopes going into last season after missing out on the playoffs in the Covid season of 2020-21. Last season the Flames won the Pacific Division and Markstrom was a huge contributor. Jacob earned a Vezina nomination and could have very well won it if it weren’t for the goaltender ranked number two on this list. Unfortunately for Calgary, they flamed out in the second round to their Provincial rivals. The battle of Alberta was one of the worst goaltending through a complete series we’ve ever seen. If Markstrom puts together a similar season to last and a better showing in the playoffs he could very well jump up this list.
Andersen needed a new situation after a confusing and terrible final year in Toronto. The move to Carolina seemed to turn out the way he wanted earning a Vezina nomination. Freddy was unfortunately hurt for the playoffs and did not appear in a game after the second-round loss to the Rangers. Andersen ranked sixth in GSAA, second in GSAx and posted a 0.922 save percentage. While the injuries and him not coming back in the playoffs tainted his year overall in some people’s eyes, it was a great year nonetheless. Freddy has a track record of being able to put together solid years which is what ranks him above the goaltenders behind him.
While the Isles had a disappointing season, missing the playoffs the same can’t be said for Ilya Sorokin. The 26-year-old ranked second in GSAA, third in GSAx and posted a 0.925 save percentage. The Islanders got a lot better in the second half after their new arena was built. Sorokin will most likely face some regression however if he can post similar numbers the Isles can very well be in for a bounce-back season. The reason why I have Sorokin so low is just that it has only been one season he has performed at this level.
Oettinger was the story of the playoffs last season in his stellar performance against Calgary in the first-round loss. What should have been a first-round loss in five games turned into a game seven overtime loss. Jake Oettinger ranked sixteenth in GSAA, fortieth in GSAx and posted a 0.914 save percentage. The stats are not spectacular however I see a lot of similarities between him and Thatcher Demko during the bubble. He is a young goaltender who played well during the season and had a great playoff. I think he is in for a big year. Oettinger is a guy I will be watching this season.
Kuemper got his big contract in Washington this offseason locking up a five-year deal with a 5.25 million dollar AAV. The thirty-two-year-old ranked fourth in GSAA, sixth in GSAx and posted a 0.921 save percentage. I’m not the biggest fan of Keumper or the contract but he did have a good year. It will be interesting to see how playing on Washington has a big impact on his numbers over playing for the Avalanche. Washington will be heavily relying on him to have a big season after changing their whole tandem from last season.