Marc-Andre Fleury and the All-Time Greatest Penguins Goaltenders
Over the course of his career, in the eyes of Penguins fans, Marc-Andre Fleury has gone from draft bust to one of the greatest Penguins goaltenders of All-Time. Fleury tied a franchise record as the winningest goaltender in Penguins history this past season, and will surely take over sole possession of that record as soon as the NHL lockout is resolved.
While Fleury may quickly overtake long-time record holder Tom Barrasso in almost every category, he may not be the greatest goaltender to ever put on a Penguins jersey.
Is Marc-Andre Fleury the greatest goaltender in Penguins history, or is his success partially due to the team that has been developed around him?
Take a look at the top eight goaltenders in Penguins history.
No. 8: Jean-Sebastien Aubin
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Aubin is not a usually a name that is found on lists of greatest players, but the goaltender did just enough during his tenure in Pittsburgh to warrant the eighth slot on this list.
The starting goalie in Pittsburgh prior to the arrival of Marc-Andre Fleury, Aubin spent his time repeatedly taking a barrage of 30-40 shots per game (in the 1999-2000 season he faced 1,392 shots). Despite an extremely dismal final three seasons in Pittsburgh from 2001-04, Aubin showed promise in his first few seasons while wearing black and gold.
Aubin was run out of town after the Penguins took Fleury with the first overall draft pick. But he was able to do enough without much help in Pittsburgh to work his way into the number eight slot on the list.
No. 7: Brent Johnson
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Johnson, who has been Fleury's back up since 2009, has proven himself to be one of the NHL's most reliable back-up goalies during his tenure in Pittsburgh.
Despite not being an every night goaltender, he has proved when given the opportunity that he is a starting quality player.
In the majority of the season's he has spent in Pittsburgh, Johnson has tallied at least 10 wins, with a goals against average of under three and save percentage of at least 90 percent. Not only has he shown he is good enough to give Fleury relief during his time in Pittsburgh, but he has made some amazing saves as well.
His consistency has been good enough to land him in the number seven spot on the list.
No. 6: Ty Conklin
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Despite only spending one season as a Penguin, Conklin proved himself to be one of the best Pittsburgh goaltenders.
Conklin assumed the role of starting goalie for a period time after Fleury went down with an ankle injury. When Fleury got injured everyone expected the Penguins to stumble, but Conklin stepped up and led them to a strong finish.
Conklin posted a 18-8-5 record with a .932 save percentage and a 2.51 GAA during the 2006-07 season and at times was crucial to the Penguins success.
He helped the Penguins secure a playoff berth that season and was almost as important to the team as Fleury was that year.
No. 5: Ron Tugnutt
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Another goaltender who only spent one year in Pittsburgh, Tugnutt came in around the trade deadline during the 1999-2000 season and shined during the playoffs. Tugnutt arrived in Pittsburgh and immediately took over for Jean-Sebastien Aubin as the starting goaltender.
Perhaps Tugnutt's biggest feat as a Penguin came in a playoff game against the Flyers, a game in which he made a total of 70 saves on 72 shots, in one of the longest games in NHL History.
Tugnutt left Pittsburgh for a more lucrative contract in Columbus, but if his stats in the 2000 Playoffs were any indicator, he would have put up big numbers had he stayed.
Tugnutt finished the playoffs with a ridiculous .945 save percentage and a 1.77 goals against average, while notching two shutouts as well.
No. 4: Patrick Lalime
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Despite having his Penguins career shortened by contract issues, Patrick Lalime's NHL record 16-game unbeaten streak to start his career, puts him onto the list of top Penguins goaltenders.
Lalime was called up to the Penguins during the 1996-97 season and immediately made an impact, starting off his NHL career with a record of 14-0-2. By the time the season had ended, Lalime was not as nearly unbeatable, as he finished with a record of 21-12-2 on the season. Lalime's save percentage was .913 and he posted a goals against average of 2.95.
The end of Lalime's career was less than stellar, but a spectacular start in Pittsburgh is all that matters for this list.
No. 3 Ken Wregget
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Wregget was overshadowed most of his time in Pittsburgh by Tom Barrasso, yet when given his opportunity he shined, proving to be a quality goaltender in his own right.
Wregget was, like Conklin and Johnson, unfortunate to be in Pittsburgh during a time in which the incumbent goaltender was one of the best in the league.
Wregget was reliable enough to play at least 35 games in the majority of the seasons he was in Pittsburgh. His best season proved to be the 1994-95 season in which he posted an outstanding record of 25-9-2 with a 3.21 GAA and a .903 SV percentage.
His ability to provide stellar and consistent play in net for the Penguins, constantly put pressure on starter Tom Barrasso throughout his time in Pittsburgh.
No. 2 Tom Barrasso
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One of the greatest American born goaltenders to ever play hockey, Tom Barrasso was a mainstay in the net for the Penguins from 1988-89 to 1999-2000, playing 460 games.
Barrasso's time in Pittsburgh ended sourly as he was traded to the Ottawa Senators around the end of the 1999-2000 season.
No one in Pittsburgh can deny that Barrasso was one of the league's best while playing for the Penguins.
A pair of Stanley Cups, as well as almost every franchise goaltending record (for now) should speak for itself as to Barrasso's qualifications as a top Penguins goaltender. While not all the records he owns are ones any goaltender would be happy to claim (Most PIMs, Most Losses), Barrasso at times single-handedly held the Penguins in games.
Barrasso posted 266 wins while in Pittsburgh including a (still) league best 11 straight playoff victories. The numbers speak for them self for this American born star.
No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury
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Fleury, who was taken with the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, struggled during his first two seasons in the NHL.
Starting in the 2006-07 season Fleury started to become one of the league's best goaltenders.
While some people argue that Fleury benefits from having a team around him that is made up of top players at every position, he is one of the league's best, and the best to ever put on a Penguins jersey.
Since 2006-07 Fleury has been the Penguins workhorse in net, playing at least 60 games in almost every season and totaling 35 wins (in 2007-08 Fleury missed significant time due to injury). Fleury is fast on track to break the majority of Barrasso's records (the ones that a goalie would aim to break) in less time than it took Barrasso to set them.
Fleury's 42 wins in the 2011-12 season were second only to Nashville's Pekka Rinne, and further proved his dominance in net.
One of the most impressive feats of Fleury's career to this point has been his ability to play 50 to 60 games a season and still be effective, something Barrasso never had to do.
Fleury has proved through his consistency and ability to handle an extreme workload that he is truly the best goaltender to ever put on a Penguins jersey.