The NHL's Top 15 Goalies
I have decided to do a top 15 players list for each position.
The entire player's career will be looked at with more emphasis put on how they have played in the last two or three years.
Now that the NHL Entry Draft and Free Agent frenzy are behind us, the next three months are the most painful time of year for hockey fans around the world.
I mean, what better time to do this than now, right?
No. 15: Pekka Rinne
2008-09 Stats: 29-15-4, 2.38 GAA, .917 SVP
Career Stats: 30-16-4, 2.39 GAA, .917 SVP
Drafted 258th overall in 2004, Rinne broke out this year and took the number one position in Nashville away from last years surprise rookie, Dan Ellis.
Rinne has been overlooked due to the great season of another rookie goalie, Steve Mason.
Rinne is extremely big for the goaltending position and covers a lot of net when in the crease.
He also has put up great numbers at every level and has great motivation to keep performing well with Dan Ellis being his backup and looking to be the No. 1 goalie in Nashville again.
No. 14: Jonas Hiller
2008-09 Stats: 23-15-1, 2.39 GAA, .919 SVP
Career Stats: 33-22-2, 2.28 GAA, .921 SVP
The surprise of the 2009 playoffs, Hiller was able to claim the No. 1 position in Anaheim after Jean-Sebastian Giguere's struggles early on in the season.
Hiller had a good regular season, but really proved his worth in the playoffs by leading a one line team to within one game of the Western Conference Finals.
Hiller has a track record of winning high-pressure games and possesses quick lateral movement and plenty of confidence in his butterfly style.
He is already 27 years old, so it will be interesting to see if he is not just a one-year wonder.
No. 13: Tomas Vokoun
2008-09 Stats: 26-23-6, 2.49 GAA, .926 SVP
Career Stats: 217-211-60, 2.56 GAA, .915 SVP
Vokoun is a goalie that has been in the league for a long time, but has yet to get the recognition he deserves.
Playing with the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers has not exactly helped him get that recognition, but those teams have always known that they are going to get consistently good play from their goalie.
Vokoun is extremely tough to get a read on from a shooter's perspective because he's unpredictable.
He can also get red hot for long stretches and has superb agility. His career save percentage of .915 is superb.
No. 12: Chris Mason
2008-09 Stats: 27-21-7, 2.41 GAA, .916 SVP
Career Stats: 85-64-19, 2.55 GAA .914 SVP
Chris Mason started the season off cold, but turned it around and led the St. Louis Blues on an improbable run to the playoffs after being as low as 14th in the conference at one point.
Mason has strong legs, which help him move well laterally, and owns a wealth of experience.
He accepts a backup role and is a solid team player. He has gone from backup to starter on both franchises that he has played with.
No. 11: Steve Mason
2008-09 Stats: 33-20-7, 2.29 GAA, .916 SVP
Career Stats: 33-20-7, 2.29 GAA, .916 SVP
An unlikely candidate to win Rookie of the Year at the beginning of the season, Mason took over in Columbus after a knee injury sidelined Pascal Leclaire.
Mason did not disappoint, leading the Jackets to their first ever playoff appearance while leading the league in shutouts and winning the Calder Trophy.
For Mason, positioning and poise are his two biggest strengths in stopping the puck.
He has maturity beyond his years and already displays big game makeup.
No. 10: Marc-Andre Fleury
2008-09 Stats: 35-18-7, 2.67 GAA, .912 SVP
Career Stats: 111-85-26, 2.87 GAA, .907 SVP
A big talent, Fleury has always been immensely skilled, but a lot of people questioned whether he had the mental makeup of being able to win the big game.
Fleury answered those critics with two solid playoff runs in the last two years, with the last one ending with him holding the Stanley Cup over his head.
Fleury has outstanding quickness and lateral mobility and never gives up on a play. He is capable of making highlight reel saves and can thrive with lots of shots. He needs to become more consistent to become an elite goalie.
No. 9: Cam Ward
2008-09 Stats: 39-23-5, 2.44 GAA, .916 SVP
Career Stats: 120-77-18, 2.81 GAA, .903 SVP
Cam Ward struggled after his shocking 2006 playoff performance when he won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP and the Stanley Cup.
Fortunately for him and the Hurricanes, Ward turned it around this season and was able to lead Carolina to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ward has an ideal body for the netminding position and an exemplary attitude.
Ward also loves the pressure of tending goal in big games and never crumbles under pressure.
No. 8: Nikolai Khabibulin
2008-09 Stats: 25-8-7, 2.33 GAA, .919 SVP
Career Stats: 299-267-82, 2.67 GAA, .908 SVP
Nikolai Khabibulin wasn't playing very well in Chicago before this year, but push came to shove as the Blackhawks signed Cristobal Huet, giving Khabibulin extra motivation to perform much better then he had been.
Khabibulin was able to lead the Blackhawks to the Western Conference Final this year.
Khabibulin plays an electrifying, acrobatic style that leaves fans on the edge of their seats and has the game breaking ability to win games by himself.
He is capable of playing a ton of minutes each season.
No. 7: Evgeni Nabokov
2008-09 Stats: 41-12-8, 2.44 GAA, .910 SVP
Career Stats: 249-162-56, 2.38 GAA, .911 SVP
Evgeni Nabokov had a pretty good season last year, leading the San Jose Sharks to first place in the conference and winning 40 games for the second year in a row after a couple of injury plagued seasons.
Unfortunately, Nabokov was once again outplayed by his counterpart in a playoff series and needs to come through this year or Sharks fans are going to start to get sick of him.
Nabokov has lightning-quick reflexes and the ability to snatch a sure goal away from opponents. He also challenges shooters well and plays with confidence.
No. 6: Miikka Kiprusoff
2008-09 Stats: 45-24-5, 2.84 GAA, .903 SVP
Career Stats: 204-125-42, 2.46 GAA .912 SVP
Although last season was a down year for Kiprusoff, there is no question that he still possesses the ability to win a game on his own when his defensemen decide to take the night off.
Kiprusoff seems to be declining, but I think it can be explained by the fact that Mike Keenan has always played his starting goalies too much.
For his sake, Brent Sutter better be able to trust the backup more than Mike Keenan did.
Kiprusoff uses sound positioning to play an effective stand-up style. He isn't easily rattled and is able to bounce back from a bad goal. He also has ice water in his veins.
No. 5: Henrik Lundqvist
2008-09 Stats: 38-25-7, 2.43 GAA, .916 SVP
Career Stats: 142-83-34, 2.31 GAA, .917 SVP
Henrik Lundqvist has only been in the NHL for four seasons and they have all been good.
He has 30 or more wins in each season and would have won the Calder Trophy in his rookie season if he did not have the misfortune of starting off his NHL career during the same time as Alexander Ovechkin.
Lundqvist excels under pressure and can make spectacular saves look routine. He has performed at a very high level in just about every league or tournament he's played in.
No. 4: Niklas Backstrom
2008-09 Stats: 37-24-8, 2.33 GAA, .923 SVP
Career Stats: 93-45-22, 2.24 GAA, .923 SVP
Niklas Backstrom is already an elite goaltender after just three seasons in the NHL and he had his best season this year despite the Minnesota Wild not making the playoffs—it's not his fault he cant score goals as well.
Backstrom is very focused when on duty and owns a wealth of high-level experience—he has represented his country multiple times in international events.
He also possesses good technique and he's cool under pressure.
No. 3: Tim Thomas
2008-09 Stats: 36-11-7, 2.10 GAA, .933 SVP
Career Stats: 109-73-27, 2.62 GAA, .918 SVP
After toiling in Finland and the AHL for many years, Thomas finally broke out in 2005-'06 and surprisingly won the Vezina Trophy this season for goalie of the year.
Thomas can come up with spectacular saves from out of nowhere and had plenty of success while toiling in the European elite leagues. He is the consummate team player.
No. 2: Roberto Luongo
2008-09 Stats: 33-13-7, 2.34 GAA, .920 SVP
Career Stats: 230-232-64, 2.57 GAA, .919 SVP
Roberto Luongo won 33 games this past season despite missing 24 games with a groin injury, an amazing accomplishment.
Luongo also set the record for most wins in a season (47) three years ago.
Luongo is a true franchise goalkeeper and may be the starter for Canada's 2010 Olympic team.
He has an awesome combination of size and supreme command of the butterfly style. He can also steal games for his team.
No. 1: Martin Brodeur
2008-09 Stats: 19-9-3, 2.41 GAA, .916 SVP
Career Stats: 557-299-128, 2.21 GAA, .914 SVP
The always durable Brodeur finally missed time this season after being hit on the elbow by a slap shot. It marked the first time he didn't appear in at least 65 games since the 1994-95 lockout.
Fortunately, he came back with enough time to break Patrick Roy's record for most wins in a career and he will break Terry Sawchuk's shutout record next year.
Brodeur is simply one of the best puck-handling goaltenders of all time and has the ability to dominate a contest. He also excels in games with low shot totals due to his superior concentration.