Analysts are always searching to put a label on a player and call them the “Next One.”
Every year at the draft there is a new “Next One,” and most of the time they turn out to be just a good player and never live up to the expectations of the label.
Most people are searching for the next Gretzky, but I am actually curious about who the next great goalie will be. Who will be the next Roy, Brodeur, or Terry Sawchuk?
These goaltenders are just as legendary at their position as the great skaters that score on them.
So who will be the next goaltending legend?
There are plenty of great goaltenders out there in Lundqvist, Luongo, and Nabokov. They are all really great goaltenders, but to me they will not be known as legends of their positions. My opinion is not necessarily based on their skill level.
What made Brodeur and Roy so spectacular and allowed them to rack up the win totals and impressive resumes they have was the age at which they reached their potential.
Lundqvist was already 23 by the time he reached the NHL level.
They also lucked out to be on teams that were consistently good. Luongo had to muddle around with the Florida Panthers for several years and now he is on a Vancouver team that did not make the playoffs last year.
These are great goalies, but they probably will not match the lengthy lists of accomplishments that Brodeur and Roy have racked up.
So begins the search for a young goaltender who could possibly be the “Next One” of goaltenders. No goaltender jumped out at being so amazing that they will reach that level, but three names did come up on my “maybe” list.
Marc-Andre Fleury is the top name on my list.
Fleury is a 6'2" French-Canadian who played minor league hockey in the QMJHL. That puts him in the same mold as Roy and Brodeur.
Fleury, at 24, has four seasons of experience and already has a 40-win season. The Penguins are going to good for a long time with their young team so that helps his future outlook.
The only question in my mind is if that injury last year is an omen for more injury-prone seasons to come. He also needs to get some international experience.
Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings is another French-Canadian goalie from the QMJHL, and he should get a shot at a starting job this year.
Bernier is young, at 20, and untested at the NHL level. He also has some international experience, which is a factor in determining a legendary status.
Bernier’s problem will be trying to put up good numbers on a Kings team that at this moment is not that good. They have a promising young defense forming and that could be beneficial to grow as a defense and goalie unit.
Carey Price is the final name that I could see be a potential legend.
Price is only 20 and has played just one season in Montreal. He should be getting more playing time this year as the team's undisputed starter. Montreal is a good team now and should be consistently good (or else the fans will burn down the city).
There is also a chance that Lundqvist could be at the legendary level by the end of his career.
He may have got to the NHL level late, but before he got there he was filling out the international experience part of his resume. King Henry has played three seasons in the NHL and all three were 30 win seasons.
30 win seasons are great, but he needs to start putting up 40 win seasons to reach Brodeur/Roy level.
These four goaltenders definitely have potential, but only time will tell if they can put up the kind of numbers that will ensure their place among goaltending legends.