Christmas has come around. Throughout North America people are shopping; looking for bargains.
The same is true in the NHL.
The goaltender can be the most important player on your team. He is often left on his own to win or lose the game. As such he often costs a team a huge proportion of it's cap space.
Last year's Stanley Cup finals featured two teams who made it there with relatively inexpensive but competent goaltenders.
Antti Niemi helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup victory despite his $800,000 dollar a year salary. Likewise in Philadelphia the cost-effective Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton and at times even AHLer Johan Backlund helped the team get into the playoffs and the Stanley Cup finals after the injury to their original No. 1 goalie Ray Emery.
That template is being adopted by other NHL teams. Here is a look at the teams and goaltenders who are getting the most for the least in the NHL today.
This is a look at starting goaltenders so it only covers the 32 goalies who have played the most minutes so far this season.
The save numbers are taken from hockeyreference.com and the salary cap number is from hockeybuzz.com.
$5 million a year/588 saves
.955 sv pct (1/32)/5 SO/1.49 GAA/W-14 L-2 OT-2
Tim Thomas started the year platooning with last year's starter Tuukka Rask. He's only been in 18 games so far. He has an incredible .955 save percentage which leads the league. His five shut-outs are a league best as well.
The $5 million dollars is the most money made by anyone on this list. Still he's the best goalie in hockey again this year and the five million makes him cheaper than nine other starters.
$4.5 million per year/758 saves
.915 sv pct (14/32)/1 SO/2.84 GAA/W-12 L-11 OT-2
Jonas Hiller is another expensive goalie on this list. Balancing that out is the fact that he's been a work horse in Anaheim—playing 25 games. He has faced the most shots and made the most saves so far this year.
He's got a middle of the road save percentage and won/lost record. That cost per save is high but lower than anyone in the league who makes more than him and quite a few players who make less. His numbers are comparable to Kari Lehtonen's in Dallas, but Kari makes almost a million dollars more a year than Jonas does.
Jonas Hiller doesn't bring brilliance for the money, but he does provide good solid competence and the ability to play a lot of minutes.
$3.4 million a year/484 saves
.918 sv pct (9/32)/3 SO/2.86 GAA/W-8 L-7 OT-4
Pekka Rinne for the Nashville Predators makes just below the average salary for NHL starters. Despite that he has the ninth best save percentage among them and a respectable three shut-outs.
Pekka is one of a long line of good, cost-effective Nashville Predator goalies. When he gets too expensive look for him to leave via free agency and be replaced by current back-up Anders Lindback and highly regarded prospect Chet Pickard. Then they will be two of the most cost-effective goalies in the league.
$4.25 million per year/667 saves
.921 sv pct (7/32)/2 SO/2.54 GAA/W-11 L-4 OT-6
Bryzgalov costs a little less than Rinne and has a little better save percentage all while carrying a much heavier work-load.
$850,000 per year/522 saves
.913 sv pct (17/32)/3 SO/2.81 gaa/W-10 L-8 OT-1
Brian is earning one of the lowest salaries on this list and yet has played in 20 games already for the Senators. His save percentage is middle of the pack, but still better than 15 other starters who all (except for Michael Neuvirth in Washington) make considerably more money than he does.
Elliot has won the starting job before in Ottawa and his numbers right now are better than those of the starter-designate, the often injured Pascal Leclaire.
$2.75 million a year/729 saves
.936 sv pct (3/32)/4 SO/1.92 GAA/W-17 L-7 OT-2
The youngster Carey Price has the third best save percentage among starters in the league this year. He is a little more expensive than some of the real bargain goalies, but he is yet to earn that huge contract that would bounce him out of the Top 10.
$1.75 million per year/553 saves
.925 sv pct (5/32)/0 SO/2.21 GAA/W-14 L-4 OT-2
Philadelphia has written the encyclopedia on going cheap with your goalie. Young Bobrovsky is a little more expensive than the career back-ups they have relied on in the past. He has played in 21 games already this year and is 14-4 with the 5th best save percentage among starters. He's the eighth cheapest starter per save in the league this year. There are only nine starters earning less than him this year.
$1.8 million per year/452 saves
.928 sv pct (4/32)/1 SO/1.92 GAA/W-13 L-5 OT-0
Jonathon Quick was just slightly more expensive than Sergei Bobrovsky in Philadelphia. Their records were almost identical and Quick's save percentage was just a little better.
The fact that Quick has a track record and that goals against average below two makes him just a slightly better bargain than Sergei.
$716,000 per year/543 saves
.916 sv pct (13/32)/2 SO/2.52 GAA/W-15 L-3 OT-2
Jimmy Howard is the cheapest starting goalie in the league. Combine that with an above average save percentage and 20 games under his belt and he's the second best bargain out there.
$1.15 million per year/500 saves
.947 sv pct (2/32)/SO 2 GAA 1.71/W-9 L-5 OT-2
Second only to Tim Thomas in goals against average and save percentage the Atlanta goalie is the most quality for the least cash so far this season.
The bargain net minder earns the fourth lowest salary among starters in the league. He has been sharing the starting job with Chris Mason so he hasn't been in as many games as most of the other starters.
Still he's faced more shots than Rinne or Quick.
Ondrej Pavalec is giving you the most goalie for the money so far this season in the NHL.