The 15 Most Underrated Goaltenders in NHL History

Antonio BonkalskiContributor IIINovember 14, 2011

The 15 Most Underrated Goaltenders in NHL History

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    There are many renowned goalies in NHL history but some of the greats still get overlooked.

    Why is this?

    For several reasons, mostly because they either played on a team that was too poor or too good to understand just how great the goalie actually was.

    So with that in mind, there are many goalies who go overlooked and deserve some praise. Some goalies you might have heard of and others maybe not, but all of the following goalies deserve to be recognized as the greats of the league.

    Here are 15 of the most underrated goalies of all time.

Rogie Vachon

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    Rogie Vachon was definitely one of the most underrated goalies of his time and of all-time.

    Vachon has some of the best reflexes in the NHL. He was feared as a one-on-one goalie and he always played well in big games.

    Vachon played for the Los Angeles Kings before they became very popular, which is why he is unknown to many people.

    Vachon was a three-time Stanley Cup winner with Montreal and also took home a Vezina Trophy. He also represented his country of Canada in the 1976. He earned the top spot for the talented Canadian team that won the Gold metal that year. He posted 1.39 goals against average during the Cup.

Chuck Rayner

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    Chuck Rayner was unfortunately a part of the New York Rangers who were mediocre at best.

    Even though he played for teams that weren't very good, he remained strong in net and is known as one of the best goalies of his era.

    He played his best hockey from the years of 1948 through 1951. During this period he won the NHL’s Hart Trophy (1950).

    He is much underrated because of the poor teams he was a part of during his career, but bringing home an MVP Trophy while playing for a mediocre team shows just how good he was in net.

Bill Ranford

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    Bill Ranford played for a variety of different teams throughout his career. He backstopped for the Bruins, Oilers, Capitals, Lightning, and Red Wings.

    Ranford is widely unknown because he played for the Oilers, who were overlooked much of the time he was with them.

    Ranford actually took the Oilers to the Stanley Cup and won it for them. He was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy in that same year. That Cup was the last that the Oilers won.

    After that, Ranford was shopped around the league to various teams and never really found a home.

    Ranford wouldn’t be overlooked if he didn't play for the Oilers. He always had a knack for finding ways to grind out wins in tough games. 

Andy Moog

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    Andy Moog played for the Oilers, Bruins, Stars and Canadiens during his NHL career.

    Moog didn't have much playing time while on the Oilers but when starting goalie Grant Fuhr was injured in the Stanley Cup Finals, Moog stepped up and brought the Cup to Edmonton.

    Moog was traded for Bill Ranford and ended up with the Bruins where he played his best hockey. He led the Bruins to four conference finals and two trips to the Stanley Cup.

    Moog was stuck in the wrong era because of the dominance of players like Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. If Moog did not have to face teams like the Penguins, he would surely have brought home more Cups for his team.

Mike Richter

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    Mike Richter is often overlooked because he had a few low years in his NHL career.

    He played for the Rangers throughout his career, where he was solid.

    He led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup title in 1994 and was named to multiple All-Star teams.

    He also represented the United States in international play. During his time with the United States, he helped the U.S. win the gold medal in 1996 and was also awarded the Most Valuable Player award during the Cup year.

    He also won the silver medal in 2002 with the United States.

    He holds a lot of the NY Rangers Club Records and holds the NHL record for wins in a single postseason with 16.

Grant Fuhr

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    Grant Fuhr was a part of the dominant Edmonton Oilers team during the 1980s led by none other than Wayne Gretzky.

    Fuhr is widely unknown because the team focused on offense and was not about defense. Fuhr, however, played pretty well during his period with the Oilers and was a solid man in net for most of his career.

    Also, Gretzky himself said that Fuhr was the best goaltender he had ever seen. 

Curtis Joseph

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    Cujo doesn't get the recognition he deserves as a goalie in the NHL.

    He started out as one of the best goalies in the league when he won 100 games in only 209 career appearances to start. That notched him as the fastest to do so in the club’s history (St. Louis Blues).

    Cujo was known for bringing his teams way deeper into the playoffs than they should have with the level of talent they had as a team.

    He does not have very many awards but brought home the King Clancy Trophy once.

    Cujo also had a knack for knocking off one seeds, as he did so a whopping four times during his career.

Craig Anderson

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    Craig Anderson brings in the new age of underrated goalies.

    He currently plays for the Ottawa Sen. He has always been reliable in net for whoever he played with.

    He posts a career goals allowed average of 2.83 which is not spectacular, but he never really played for any dominant teams.

    He had his best season in 2009-10 season when he lead the Colorado Avalanche to the playoffs where he would record a shutout versus the Sharks. The Avalanche ended up losing the series, but Anderson was the main reason the team got to that point.

Chris Osgood

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    Chris Osgood is an overlooked goaltender in NHL history.

    Osgood is known for committing a terrible turnover in his rookie season, the main reason that the Red Wings fell to the Sharks in the playoffs.

    Osgood made up for it by winning a Stanley Cup for the team and also notching a Mike Vernon Conn Smythe Trophy as well.

    Osgood had one of the best stories of goaltending in the history of the NHL when he was put on waivers in 2001.

    He returned with a vengeance to the Red Wings in 2007-08 where he stumped Hasek for the top spot and led the Red Wings back to the Stanley Cup Finals where he hoisted the Cup yet again.

    Osgood won a total of three Stanley Cups in his career, all with Detroit, and was awarded two William Jennings trophies as well.

Harry Lumley

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    No one really knows how good Harry Lumley really was.

    He won a Stanley Cup, appeared in three All-Star games and was awarded the Vezina Trophy as well.

    He also was the youngest goalie to play in an NHL game at the young age of 17.

    He bounced around from team to team, but starting so young and actually becoming a solid goaltender is a very big accomplishment for any goalie.

Al Rollins

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    Al Rollins was another one of those goalies who was unfortunate enough to play for a mediocre hockey club.

    Rollins played for the Black Hawks, Maple Leafs and Rangers, who were all not that good during the time.

    He was the shining spot on a terrible Black Hawks team. The team that usually saw itself at the bottom of the standings was one of the main reasons why his record is a dismal 141-205-83.

    Although he played for poor teams, Rollins shined in net. He is still one of a few goaltenders in the history of the NHL to win the Hart Trophy and Vezina Trophy in the same season.

Hugh Lehman

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    You would have to go way back to see Hugh Lehman in the stat books.

    Lehman is not widely known, but he is one of the greatest innovators of the goalie position in NHL history.

    Lehman bounced around from league to league but found a home with Vancouver where he ultimately led the club to a Stanley Cup Victory in 1914-15. The Vancouver Millionaires were the first Pacific Coast Hockey Association team to win the whole thing thanks in part to Lehman.

    Lehman was innovative because he was a fantastic puck-handler, so at times during his career he would leave the crease and shift from goalie to player as he would play the puck.

Mike Karakas

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    Mike Karakas is underrated because he only appeared in one All-Star game.

    Karakas is a giant in the record books for U.S.-born goalies.

    He was the first goalie born in the U.S. to win the Stanley Cup. He played for the Black Hawks in 1937-38 where they struggled despite his shining play in net. The next year, he led the Black Hawks to a Stanley Cup victory.

    Karakas would be more known among the great goalies of all time if his greed didn't get in the way. Unfortunately, Karakas threw his career away because of constant salary disputes.

Ed Belfour

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    Ed Belfour was underrated his whole career.

    He was undrafted after winning a championship in college for North Dakota but was signed by the Black Hawks as a free agent.

    He led the Black Hawks far into the playoffs and fell short of winning the Cup as he and Chicago lost to the Penguins.

    He is a great puck-handler and does not get the credit he deserves for being that good.

    Belfour played his best with the Dallas Stars where he won his one and only Stanley Cup.

    He finished his career with one Cup, two Vezina trophies, four Jennings trophies, a Calder trophy and five All-Star game appearances.

Lorne Chabot

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    Lorne Chabot never could get the attention of the NHL and especially the fans. Chabot bounced around the league throughout his career, playing for six different teams in his 11 year career. He played for the Rangers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Black Hawks, Marrons (Montreal), and the Americans (New York).

    He was a part of the Rangers team that beat Montreal in the 1927-28 finals but due to an injury was not the winning goalie. The funny thing is that he was replaced by none other than his coach Lester Patrick.

    He is underrated as a goalie because he was on his way to a very, very good career until he was hit in the eye during those finals. After the injury, he was shopped around the NHL to any takers.

    He finished his career with 201 wins and allowed only 1.54 goals against average. He also posted 73 shutouts.