No position can change an NHL team as much as the goalie can. A great one can take an average team and make it good, and take a good team and make it a Stanley Cup contender. On the opposite end of that spectrum, an average or below average can take a contender and make the team look ordinary. We continue to get you ready for the 2020-21 NHL season by ranking every NHL starting goalie.
Simply the best goalie in hockey right now. Have said it before, but it is almost unfair to have a goalie this good on a team this good. He is a constant contender for the Vezina Trophy, played every minute in the bubble for the Lightning on their way to a Stanley Cup a year ago, and is consistently dominant.
Boston is always looking to run him out of town or blame him for the team's shortcomings in the playoffs, but Rask is still an elite goalie that helps make the Bruins a contender. He was phenomenal during the 2019-20 season and in the running for the Vezina Trophy. He has not won the Stanley Cup as a starter (he was a backup on the 2011 Cup team in Boston), but he has taken the team to two different Stanley Cup Finals and helped it win a Presidents' Trophy.
The Vegas net is going to be a 50-50 split between Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury to start the season, but since I expect Lehner to win that job, and since he did win the job in the playoffs a year ago, I am going to list him as the starter. And he is an outstanding one. Lehner has been one of the league's best goalies over the past five years (a .920 save percentage during that stretch) and is going to help give the Golden Knights a legit shot at another Stanley Cup run.
He has been a rock in the Jets' net the past few years, playing at a high level (two times a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in three years, including winning it this past season) and showing a ton of durability. The Jets have a questionable defense and need to rely on their goaltending to help bail them out. Hellebuyck does. He is the reason they have a chance to do something this season.
It is a shame he is being wasted on a Ducks team that can not decide what it is or where it should be going. Put him on a good team and it becomes an instant Stanley Cup contender and Gibson becomes a favorite for the Vezina Trophy.
The Flyers have been waiting for a franchise goalie for decades, and they finally found it. Hart arrived in Philadelphia with enormous expectations, and so far he has mostly met them and taken over the starting job. The Flyers have some questions and are a total wild card team in what they are capable of this season, but if Hart plays like they think he can they are going to be a factor in the playoffs.
When he is healthy Bishop is one of the league's most productive goalies with an extremely underrated and overlooked resume. He has been a Vezina Trophy finalist three different times, is consistently near the top of the league in save percentage, and is a cornerstone player for the Stars. Between Bishop and Anton Khudobin the Stars have an elite goaltending duo.
If you go back five or six years Price was one of the most impactful players in all of hockey due to his ability to put the Canadiens on his back and single-handedly carry them to the playoffs. His 2014-15 season remains one of the best single-season goalie performances in NHL history. He is not that player on a consistent basis anymore, but he is still capable of getting hot and changing games.
If you had to use one word to describe Anderson "steady" would be a good way to go. He is durable, plays at a consistently above average level, and has been one of the Maple Leafs' most important players the past few years. Their style of play, combined with their defense in recent years, has sometimes left him on an island and he has been more than up to the task.
It is admittedly a small sample size, but since arriving in Arizona and getting a chance to be a regular in net Kuemper has been as good and as productive as any goalie in the NHL. Given the Coyotes' shortcomings offensively they are going to need more of it if they are going to compete for a playoff spot.
For years Markstrom was one of the most highly touted goalie prospects in the league, but he never really put it together until he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks and started to get an opportunity to play. Once he did, he became one of the league's most underrated goalies for his ability to play a ton of games and play at a fairly high level. He is not going to win you many games on his own, but he is not going to lose you many games, either. The Flames are hoping he is their long-term answer after signing him to a massive six-year contract in free agency.
This is where we start getting into the wild card goalies, and Binnington is a fascinating one. He was great two years ago when he got his first NHL chance and helped carry the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup. He regressed a bit during the 2019-20 season but was still a solid starter. Then he completely imploded in the playoffs. Which goalie can the Blues expect this season? It is a huge year for the Blues and Binnington as he enters a contract year.
If you were to look at the Avalanche roster and try to pinpoint a weakness, goalie might be the first place you go. Not because their goalies are bad, simply because the forwards and defense are that good. But even the goaltending is not really bad. Grubauer has a .917 save percentage (above league average) in his two years with the Avalanche. He is not a game-changer, but you can win with him.
Check back in on this ranking at the end of the season and there is a very strong possibility that Shesterkin is much higher. He has that sort of potential, and he showed it in his brief cup of coffee as an NHL starter a year ago. He enters the season as the leading favorite for the Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year.
We only have one season of performance to go on here, and I am banking on that performance not being a fluke, but Merzlikins was sensational for the Blue Jackets a year ago and played a huge role in helping them stay in playoff contention all season. He finished fifth in the Vezina Trophy voting, something that nobody would have expected at the start of the season.
When healthy Varlamov can be a really good goalie. But injuries have held him back at times and while he is still the Islanders' starter right now, he may just be a placeholder until Ilya Sorokin is ready to take over the job. That looks to be a matter of when, and not if.
Blackwood has been a bright spot for the Devils the past two years and is ready to enter this season as the unquestioned, No.1 starter. The Devils were hoping for a duo with him and Corey Crawford (which would have been really good!) but with Crawford's surprising retirement announcement that leaves Blackwood is the only option. If the Devils are going to compete in the league's toughest division they are going to need a special season from him.
This is a tough one to figure out. During his time in Columbus Bobrovsky was as good as you could find in the NHL. He helped make them a consistent playoff team and joined an exclusive list of goalies to win two Vezina Trophies. That resulted in a massive seven-year, $70 million free-agent contract in Florida. The first year of that contract was not good. Was that simply a blip on the radar? Or is it the sign of a downward decline that could leave the Panthers with a salary cap-crushing contract?
With Braden Holtby moving on, the Capitals' net turns to Samsonov. The Capitals have been excited about him for a couple of years now and based on what he showed a year ago he is ready for the job. He only has 26 games of NHL experience to look at right now so he is a bit of a wild card, but the potential is there for him to be an impact goalie.
For the first time in 16 years, the Penguins are entering a season without a proven starting goalie. Jarry is going to be the man in Pittsburgh, but his track record at this point is limited with mixed results. The only time he has played at a high level in the NHL is the first half of the 2019-20 season when he earned an All-Star game bid. Can he repeat that? The potential is there, but nobody knows for sure what they are going to get.
There has been a passing of the torch in Nashville with Pekka Rinne stepping to the side and paving the way for Saros to take over the starting job. Saros has been very good throughout his career in Nashville and should be good enough to give the Predators a chance. The question is whether or not the Predators special teams and offense can do enough to take advantage of it.
On one hand, Murray has the "two-time Stanley Cup champion" label attached to his resume, and that is never going away. But he has not been that goalie for a couple of years now and has battled through injury and inconsistency. The Senators liked him enough to trade for him and give him a huge contract extension. It is a bit of a gamble.
Goaltending was an issue at a time for the Wild this past season and resulted in swapping out Devan Dubnyk for Talbot. Talbot is coming off a strong season with the Calgary Flames that was a bounce-back year of sorts. The Wild are hoping he can build on that and replicate it to help them get back to the playoffs. He is not a long-term answer, but he is a solid short-term fix.
For the bulk of his career, Holtby was one of the league's best goalies. A Vezina contender every year, money in the playoffs, and a Stanley Cup champion. But he has been a shell of his former self the past two seasons and it is worth wondering how much is left in the tank. The Canucks are hoping that he has at least a couple of quality years in him to help solidify their goalie spot alongside Thatcher Demko.
Greiss has been really good the past few years for the New York Islanders, mostly playing in a platoon role with the likes of Robin Lehner and Semyon Varlamov. Now he will get a chance to be more of a starter on a rebuilding Detroit team. He is going to see a lot of action this season playing behind that team and is going to get tested like never before.
The Sabres spent a lot of money this offseason on the additions of Taylor Hall, Eric Staal, and Cody Eakin to help fix their offense. Those will help, even if they are just one-year additions, but they did not do anything to address one of their biggest weaknesses. Goaltending. Ullmark was not terrible a year ago, but is he an answer or good enough to help them stay in contention in the powerhouse East Division? There is not much evidence right now to make the argument that he is.
Goaltending is always the biggest question in Carolina, and of course, it is again. Mrazek has been involved in a 50-50 playing time split the past two seasons and produced some mixed results. HIs 2019-20 season was not particularly strong, especially given the quality of the defense in front of him. If the Hurricanes are going to realize all of their potential (which is sky high) they are going to need more from their goalies.
Koskinen was better than expected during the 2019-20 season, but it still was not a particularly strong performance. The Oilers remain a top-heavy team with questionable depth and the same suspect goaltending duo (Koskinen and Mike Smith) that they went with a year ago. Given Smith's play in recent years, it has to be Koskinen or bust this season.
It has been a rapid decline for Quick over the past two years. At his peak, he was regarded as an all-time great thanks to his two Stanley Cup runs with the Kings. It probably made him a little overrated, but he was still outstanding. He is not anything close to that goalie anymore and has statistically been one of the league's worst starters the past two seasons.
Goaltending has been a major issue for the Sharks the past couple of seasons, and it was stunning that they went into the 2019-20 season and did nothing to address it. They did bring in Devan Dubnyk this offseason to share time with Jones, but both goalies were among the league's worst a year ago.
Go back to the start of the 2019-20 season and goaltending was the Blackhawks biggest strength with Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner in net. Now? It is by far the biggest question mark with Delia and Malcolm Subban -- two completely unproven NHL goalies -- as their starting duo. With that duo playing behind what looks to be a bad team on paper this could be a very long season in Chicago.