Power Ranking Each NHL Team's Backup Goaltender
The NHL's trade deadline is coming up in late February, and teams all over the league will be considering how they can improve their team's present and future chances of winning the Cup.
One of the positions many teams will be looking to address is between the pipes. Some teams, like Boston, have enviable depth, while others are lacking a true number one, much less two.
What follows is our power rankings of the 30 back-up netminders in the NHL as of Jan. 16, 2012. Some of these guys are helping their teams by playing well, and others are helping the agents of the guys in front of them on the depth chart.
30. Dwayne Roloson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Between Mathieu Garon and Roloson, the Bolts have been painfully underwhelmed by their lack of decent goaltending this year. Roloson gets the nod as the so-called "back-up" because he's started fewer games (23) than Garon (29), but his numbers look more like a guy that should be in a rec league: 6-10-2 with a .880 save percentage.
29. Ty Conklin, Detroit Red Wings
This could become an issue the Red Wings choose to address before the deadline. Jimmy Howard is carrying the weight for the Red Wings this year in a big way, and a lot of that is because Conklin has struggled to survive the games he's played in.
His save percentage is under .890 and his goals against average is over 3.20. Detroit will likely look for help to save Howard's best work for the postseason at some point moving forward.
28. Henrik Karlsson, Calgary Flames
Putting it mildly, he isn't very good. With a 0-4-1 record and .895 save percentage, only his goals against average is better than Leland Irving... and both of them are allowing over 3.40 goals per game. Calgary is painfully one goaltender deep yet again.
27. Brian Boucher, Carolina Hurricanes
The Canes are another team that doesn't have a win from their back-ups; three guys not-named-Cam Ward have combined to post a 0-7-1 record. Boucher has been the most regularly guilty party, stacking up a resume that includes a .888 save percentage and 0-4-1 record.
26. Alex Auld, Ottawa Senators
Auld is probably going to struggle finding work next year. He's posted only a .875 save percentage and a 1-3-2 record for the Sens this year, who have been thankful for Craig Anderson's renaissance every time they look down the bench and see Auld.
25. Michael Neuvirth, Washington Capitals
The entire situation between the pipes in Washington has been a disappointment this year, but many had expected Neuvirth to be better when the Caps were comfortable dealing Semyon Varlamov to Colorado. His response has been mediocrity: 5-7-2 record with an .886 save percentage is simply not good enough.
24. Brent Johnson, Pittsburgh Penguins
Johnson isn't likely to be called on a lot this year, and he's been mediocre when he's taken the ice. He's posted just a 2-5-2 record with a sub-standard .876 save percentage and ugly 3.47 goals against average. Thankfully for Pens fans, Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't been one of the guys getting hurt lately (knock on wood).
23. Anders Lindback, Nashville Predators
He's only been called on eight times this year, and Lindback has been about as good as a back-up behind a multi-millionaire should be expected to be on the rare occasion he gets into a game. But an .893 save percentage and 2-4-0 record need to be better if the Preds want Pekka Rinne to get a rest some time between now and April.
22. Dan Ellis, Anaheim Ducks
He's 1-5-0, hasn't been able to stay healthy, and continues to make people wonder what happened to the guy that was such a tempting free agent a couple summers ago. I'm sure he'll have a lot to say about how his pay check is divided when nobody asks him before the new CBA is negotiated, too.
21. Scott Clemmensen, Florida Panthers
Clemmensen is an intriguing situation. He's posted fairly good numbers when healthy (5-2-3, .904, 2.83) but everyone in the league knows the future in Florida is prospect Jakob Markstrom, who was pretty good in seven appearances earlier this year. Clemmensen could be a name that's on a different sweater after the deadline if Panthers GM Dale Tallon wants to see more from Markstrom.
20. Peter Budaj, Montreal Canadiens
Budaj doesn't see a lot of action in Montreal, but he's been decent when called upon. He's posted a save percentage of .902 and a goals against average of 2.82, but his 1-4-0 record leaves a lot (three wins) to be desired.
19. Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers
He's taken more of the starts than many of the back-ups on this list, and has played behind some suspect performances with the Oilers being banged up lately. But Dubnyk appears to have a piece of the future between the pipes in Edmonton, in spite of his 5-10-0 record this year.
18. Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings
Bernier has not put together the best first half of the season (3-4-1, 2.73, .895) but his ability was clear enough last year that the Kings have refused to include him in any trades to date. Indeed, there are some inside the Kings organization that think he might still be their future number one.
17. Jason LaBarbera, Phoenix Coyotes
LaBarbera has been pretty good as the number two guy for the Coyotes this year, posting a .907 save percentage and 2.82 goals against average. Unfortunately, he's playing in Phoenix, where those numbers translate into a 3-7-1 record.
16. Chris Mason, Winnipeg Jets
Mason has put up fairly solid numbers in limited action as the number two guy for the Jets, posting a 5-3-0 record with one shutout and a .915 save percentage on the season.
15. New York Islanders
The Islanders actually wind up right in the middle of the pack because... well... who is their "back-up?"
Rick DiPietro is back on IR, taking his paycheck and going away as has become is annual routine.
But the play between the pipes hasn't been awful for the Isles. Both Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov, both would-be second string guys, are doing an adequate job in spite of mediocre everything around them.
They don't have a number one, but what they do have is at least average.
14. Curtis Sanford, Columbus Blue Jackets
Yes, shockingly, something about the Blue Jackets ranks in the upper half of the league.
Sanford has been (relatively) good in his games for the Jackets with a 7-10-3 record and .912 save percentage. He's been the best goaltender they've had in over a year, and should be their number one at the end of the year.
13. Richard Bachman, Dallas Stars
After Andrew Raycroft gave away his roster spot with a terrible ten appearances, Bachman has been a pleasant surprise for the Stars. He's put together a solid 6-2-0 record with a .917 save percentage and 2.56 goals against average. If not for the games thrown away by Raycroft, the Stars might not have fallen as far from their hot start when starter Kari Lehtonen went down.
12. James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs
Leafs fans won't like where Reimer's ranked, but the proof is in his numbers: a .900 save percentage is nice, but a 7-4-4 record and 3.01 goals against average aren't great numbers. When combined with Ben Scrivens' appearances, the leafs' back-ups are 9-8-5 this year.
11. Thomas Greiss, San Jose Sharks
Greiss has actually been really good when called upon this year (6-4-0, .926, 2.09), but the question is how/where he fits into the picture when Niittymaki comes back from injury. Thankfully for the Sharks their number one, Antti Niemi, continues to play good hockey so they don't have many worries about who sits behind him on the depth chart.
10. Ray Emery, Chicago Blackhawks
Emery has gone 10-3-2 for Chicago in relief of Corey Crawford, who hasn't been the same guy Chicago saw in Vancouver when the 2011 playoffs ended. He's been much better than fans thought he would be, and is likely earning a multi-year contract and another shot as a starter in the league with a good performance as the number two guy with the Blackhawks this year.
9. Johan Hedberg, New Jersey Devils
Hedberg has done a nice job of carrying the weight for the Devils when Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur has missed action this year. Hedberg has a respectable .909 save percentage and 2.45 goals against average through Sunday night. He has also given New Jersey two shut outs this season.
8. Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo's young back-up has been fantastic this year, posting a .923 save percentage while giving Ryan Miller a break. Unfortunately, his save percentage hasn't totally translated into wins; Enroth is only 8-8-3 for a struggling Sabres team.
7. Martin Biron, New York Rangers
Biron has the luxury of not being asked to do a lot behind Henrik Lundqvist in New York, but he's been exceptional early on this year. He's only played in 12 games to date, but has great numbers: 9-2-0 with a .927 save percentage, two shut outs and a 1.87 goals against average.
6. Jean-Sebastian Giguere, Colorado Avalanche
He's been a revelation behind Semyon Varlamov for the Avs, posting a fantastic 2.04 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. If the Avs want to make a run for a postseason spot, they might want to make a permanent switch on the top of their depth chart. With Varlamov already having 29 starts under his belt, it might be time for Giguere to drive his total closer to 30.
5. Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia Flyers
If you're a Flyers fan, you have to wonder why on Earth they gave so many years and so much money to astronaut/philosopher/starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov when it's been clear this year that Bobrovsky is the better netminder. Bob has a 10-3-1 record and a .921 save percentage as the number two guy for the Flyers.
4. Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues
How about the depth "problem" in St. Louis! When training camp started, the Blues had their number one guy locked up and were taking a chance on a guy coming off a rough year to back him up.
Well, Brian Elliott has become the number one guy in St. Louis (and an All-Star), while Halak has become number two. They're splitting the starts, but because Elliott's received more work in big situations this year and will be at the All-Star Game, Halak's getting the not as the "back-up" for the Blues.
3. Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild
Harding is the highest ranked of the "what would happen if everyone was healthy" group. Niklas Backstrom is the top guy with the Wild, but Harding has actually put up better numbers this year. His 2.29 goals against average is among the NHL's top ten.
2. Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks
Schneider was big for the Canucks early on this year, and his continued strong play is making his pending restricted free agency a tough decision for Vancouver.
1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
How about Rask serving as Tim Thomas' back-up while posting the league's best numbers? Task has posted a .945 save percentage, 1.59 goals against average and 10-4-1 record while watching Thomas take the bulk of the starts.
There are certainly 20, if not 25, teams in the league that would love to have Rask as their number one man.