Inspired by Puck Daddy’s work this week, I have been generating lists of the best players at every position in the NHL for next season. Centers? Check. Wingers? Check. Defensemen? Check. Now, it’s time for goaltending. Here’s my list of the top 15 netminders in the NHL for next season. You can check out Puck Daddy’s top 25 goalie list if you want.
15. Antti Niemi: After a slow start with San Jose last season, Niemi rebounded for a strong year that shows he is a legitmate starting goalie in this league.
14. Jonathan Quick: He’s 25 now, and so his status as the next big thing is starting to fade, but he did have a .918 save percentage last season.
13. Marc-Andre Fleury: His career SV% is only .908, but that’s mostly because he was thrown to the wolves on a bad team when he joined the league. However, his SV% last season was a .918, and he’s reliable in net for the Penguins.
12. Niklas Backstrom: His first three seasons in Minnesota, albeit in a defensive system, were outstanding. However, the last couple of seasons have been less good, though he did have a .916 SV% last season.
11. Semyon Varlamov: He couldn’t get a footing in Washington, despite a career SV% of .917 and a SV% of .924 last season. He’s 23, and he should continue to get better. He should be in the top 10 next season.
10. Ilya Bryzgalov: Bryzgalov was the MVP of Phoenix the past few seasons, and had a .921 SV% last season. Now, he’d headed to Philadelphia, where he should be an elite goal for another couple of seasons.
9. Carey Price: The Canadiens looked shrewd for keeping Price over Jaroslav Halak last season. He posting an excellent .923 SV%, and since he’s just turning 24 he still could get better.
8. Tomas Vokoun: Yes, he’s 35 now, but he still had a .922 SV%, and has a .917 SV% on his career. More to the point, he hasn’t had a SV% less than .919 since the lockout ended.
7. Ryan Miller: Miller was slightly off last season, but the year before that he won the Vezina with a .929 SV%. I expect a bit of a bounceback.
6. Jonas Hiller: Hiller’s great season was cut short, but his .924 SV% is still impressive over the course of 49 games. Plus, with a career .921 SV%, it’s quite clear he’s legit.
5. Cam Ward: Ward was a workhorse last season, playing in a whopping 74 games with a .923 SV%. He’s steadily improved throughout his career, and at 27 he’s in his prime.
4. Henrik Lundqvist: Lundqvist has started at least 67 games the past five seasons, and has had at least a .921 SV% the last two seasons.
3. Roberto Luongo: People complain about his playoff performance, but you can’t validly argue that Luongo isn’t a great goalie. He had an outstanding .928 SV% last season, has a .919 career SV%, and at 32 still has plenty of time left.
2. Pekka Rinne: The big Finn is the latest in a long line of top notch goalies in Nashville. He jumped up a level last season with a .930 SV% in 64 games, and he has a career .920 SV%.
1. Tim Thomas: Yes, Thomas is 37. However, when you are coming off a season where you set an NHL record with a .938 SV% and have won two of the last three Vezinas, you have to top this list.