The Greatest Goaltender in the History of Every NHL Team

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IDecember 5, 2011

The Greatest Goaltender in the History of Every NHL Team

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    This is another great barstool argument that happens in every NHL city. Who is the best goaltender to ever play for your team?

    For some teams, it's a pretty simple discussion. But for others, especially the Original Six franchises, there are a number of Hall of Famers that could have been mentioned.

    Ten teams' best is currently between their pipes (including, of course, Winnipeg), and another five are still active but have moved on to another organization.

    This list represents the greatest to work between the pipes in every team's history.

    Fun fact: Five teams' all-time best is a one-time Chicago Blackhawks.

Anaheim Ducks: Jean-Sebastian Giguere

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    There really hasn't been that much to choose from with the Ducks, but it's easy to give the nod here to Giguere. He's the franchise's all-time leader in wins (206) and shutouts (32). He has the lowest goals against average (2.47) of any netminder with at least 60 games played for the Ducks, and his .914 save percentage in Anaheim is the second best in the franchise's history for goalies with 100 appearances behind only Jonas Hiller (.918).

    Oh, and if memory serves he's got a ring, too.

Boston Bruins: Tiny Thompson

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    Tiny played for the B's from 1928-1939 and is still the all-time career leader in victories (252) and shutouts (74). He won four Vezina Trophies for Boston, and was on the ice for almost 2,000 minutes more than any netminder in Boston history. Finally, he kept his goals against average under 2.00 (1.99) in a Boston-high 468 appearances.

Buffalo Sabres: Dominik Hasek

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    Even though Ryan Miller has been very good for Buffalo and is close to passing many of Hasek's career numbers while wearing the Sabres' sweater, there is no goalie that can stand between Hasek and the top spot in Buffalo.

    He won six Vezina Trophies in an eight-year stretch, and was given the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP twice. Furthermore, he was named to the all-NHL first All-Star team in all but one year that he was in Buffalo.

    Simply put, he was the best goaltender of his generation.

    His 234 wins are only seven more than Miller to date, but he had 55 shutouts (to Miller's 23 so far) and his goals against average is 0.36 lower than Miller's.

Calgary Flames: Miikka Kiprusoff

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    Mike Vernon was a strong consideration here, but the incumbent Kiprusoff is clearly the top goalie in Flames' history.

    He holds the franchise's career marks for wins (273) and shutouts (38), and is 24 games away from passing Vernon for the all-time lead in games played between the pipes for the franchise. He also won the 2005-06 Vezina Trophy.

    Quietly, with some mediocre teams in front of him the last few years, Kiprusoff has been really good in Calgary.

Carolina Hurricanes: Cam Ward

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    Again, like Calgary, the current No. 1 gets the nod over an older goalie that also put up strong numbers.

    Carolina doesn't have a very long, or distinguished, history between the pipes, but Ward has been very good for them. He's the franchise's all-time leader with 183 wins and 269 games played, and is three shutouts behind Arturs Irbe for the team record.

Chicago Blackhawks: Tony Esposito

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    This is the first team on the list with at least three guys that could have been the top dog. But at the end of the day, the nod goes to Tony O.

    Glenn Hall was incredible for years, establishing consecutive games played records and earning his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame in a Hawks' sweater. His 275 wins and 51 shutouts are hard to ignore, as is the fact that he's considered by most to be the father of the modern butterfly style.

    Charlie Gardiner is also worthy of consideration. He tragically died just weeks after leading the Blackhawks to their first Cup win, and is the last goalie to serve as captain to win the Cup. When you consider that 42 of his 112 wins were shutouts, it's amazing to think what he might have done if he'd been around longer.

    I haven't mentioned Hall of Famer Ed Belfour, who was good enough that the Blackhawks gave away Buffalo's all-time best, Hasek, for practically nothing. And Al Rollins won a Hart Trophy on a pathetic Hawks team in the early 1950s.

    But Esposito was the man in Chicago. He played in more games (873), won more games (418) and held his opponents off the scoreboard more times (74) than any goalie in Hawks' history.

Colorado Avalanche: Patrick Roy

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    Not a whole lot to choose from. Consider the guys who hold the distinction of second place in major statistical categories behind Roy in Colorado history:

    Wins: Peter Budaj, 101 (Roy: 262)

    Shutouts: David Aebischer, 13 (Roy: 37)

    Goals Against Average (min. 10 GP): Aebischer, 2.35 (Roy: 2.25)

    Save Percentage (min. 30 GP): Aebischer, .915 (Roy: .918)

    Time On Ice (minutes): Budaj, 13,311 (Roy: 28,317)

Columbus Blue Jackets: Steve Mason?

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    The question mark is because Mason is really just not very good. But he has the best numbers of any goalie in Jackets' history. His 80 wins are four away from trying the team record, and his 18 shutouts are the most in franchise history.

    This is more of an indictment on the Columbus organization than something Mason should be proud of.

Dallas Stars: Ed Belfour

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    Marty Turco is a very, very close second here, but Belfour was the best Dallas has seen.

    "The Eagle" won 160 of his 307 appearances, both second in Stars' history behind Turco. But he had 27 shutouts and a 2.19 goals against average while in Dallas, and has some jewelry to show for his time with the Stars.

Detroit Red Wings: Terry Sawchuk

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    Arguably the greatest of all time, Sawchuk is the owner of the record books in Detroit—734 games played, 351 wins, 85 shutouts, four Vezina Trophies and three Stanley Cup championships while with Detroit while earning his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Edmonton Oilers: Grant Fuhr

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    A lot of Fuhr's numbers aren't as sexy as many of the other guys on this list. His goals against average in Edmonton was a relatively astronomical 3.69, and he posted only nine shutouts in 423 games with the Oilers. In fact, there are players with much better raw numbers that Fuhr.

    But does Tommy Salo have a Vezina Trophy with his 23 shutouts?

    How many Cups did Curtis Joseph win in Edmonton?

    Fuhr was a six-time All-Star and four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Oilers, and won one Vezina along the way. His 226 wins are still the best in franchise history as well.

Florida Panthers: Thomas Vokoun

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    Roberto Luongo still holds the franchise marks for wins (108) and shutouts (26), but Vokoun nearly matched him (101 and 23) in 69 fewer games played. He also had a better goals against average (2.57) and save percentage (.923) than Luongo did in Florida (2.68 and .920).

    However, 100 wins appears to be a cursed number with netminders in Florida. Luongo, Vokoun and John Vanbiesbrouck (106) all just barely crossed the number before their time in Florida came to an end.

Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick

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    Is it hard to believe that a current goaltender, who's only 25 years old until mid-January, is the best in the history of a franchise as old as the LA Kings?

    Rogie Vachon has the career mark for wins in a Kings' sweater at 171 and owns the most shutouts with 32 while with Los Angeles. But he accomplished those numbers in 389 games.

    In 201 games, Quick has 107 wins (third behind Vachon and Kelly Hrudey), and is second in LA history already with 18 shutouts. He also owns an impressive .915 career save percentage, and his goals against average (2.39) is considerably better than Vachon's (2.86).

Minnesota Wild: Niklas Backstrom

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    Another young franchise that doesn't have a lot to choose from, Backstrom has been excellent for a few years for the Wild. He's the career leader in wins (151) and shutouts (24) to date, but also boasts a strong .918 save percentage.

Montreal Canadiens: Ken Dryden

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    George Hainsworth is the Montreal career leader with 75 shutouts.

    Jacques Plante won 314 games for the Habs, the leader in that category.

    And Patrick Roy carved much of his place in the Hall of Fame as a netminder in Montreal.

    But Dryden was the man.

    Dryden played eight seasons in Montreal. He won the Vezina Trophy five times, the Conn Smythe once and the Stanley Cup six times. Yes, six times in eight years.

    He won 258 times in 397 games, including 46 shutouts.

Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne

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    I could have easily said Vokoun was the best for a second team here, being that he is the Nashville career wins leader with 161, but Rinne gets the spot.

    Assuming he finishes his new deal with the Preds, Rinne should easily move past Vokouns' 161 wins; he currently has 105 victories. He's already the career leader with 23 shutouts, and has been a finalist for the Vezina. For a young franchise like Nashville, they've got a good netminder between the pipes for them right now.

New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur

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    Chris Terreri is second in Devils' history with 118 wins and seven shutouts.

    Brodeur has...116 shutouts. His 630 wins are just a few more than Terreri.

    Obviously Brodeur is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and is decades from being replaced as the best in Devils' history.

New York Islanders: Billy Smith

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    Glenn Resch was really good for the Islanders, winning 157 of his 282 appearances. He is also the all-time leader with 25 shutouts for the Isles.

    But Smith has a Vezina, a Conn Smythe and four Stanley Cup championship rings while with New York. That's hard to beat anywhere. He's also the runaway leader in franchise history with 304 wins, 147 more than second-place Resch.

New York Rangers: Mike Richter

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    Ed Giacomin won a Vezina with the Rangers, and is their all-time leader with 49 shutouts.

    John Vanbiesbrouck is the last Ranger to win the Vezina, all the way back in 1985-86.

    And Henrik Lundqvist is quickly climbing the ranks with 224 wins and 37 shutouts.

    But Mike Richter is the best ever for the Rangers.

    Not only are his 301 wins the most in team history, but he has a Stanley Cup ring from 1994. Most importantly, his entire NHL career was spent between the pipes for the Rangers.

Ottawa Senators: Patrick Lalime

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    Another name that doesn't make many think of excellence, but he's got the best numbers in Sens' history. His 146 wins are more than twice any other netminder in the team's history. His 30 shutouts are more than twice any other total in franchise history. And his goals against average (2.32) and save percentage (.908) are as good or better than any other goalie that's played in at least 100 games with the Sens.

Philadelphia Flyers: Bernie Parent

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    This is another team with a couple qualified candidates.

    Ron Hextall played in three games more than Parent did for the Flyers, and won eight more than Parent. He also won the Conn Smythe and one Vezina Trophy with Philadelphia.

    But Parent had a few things on Hextall that got him the top spot. His goals against average was 0.49 lower than Hextall's. His 50 shutouts are almost three times as many as Hextall's 18. He also has twice as many Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies as Hextall.

    The biggest difference: Parent has two rings.

Phoenix Coyotes: Ilya Bryzgalov

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    Not a very impressive franchise history, but Brygalov's numbers are solid; 130 wins and 21 shutouts are both the standard for the Coyotes and, if things continue as they're trending, will be the all-time records for a team that changes locations and names before next year.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury

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    This might raise a few flags with the fans of Tom Barrasso, but Fleury is arguably the best in Pens' history.

    Barrasso is the franchise's leader with 226 wins. But Fleury is only 28 behind him. He might be the all-time leader for the Pens by the end of this season.

    Barrasso is the franchise's leader with 22 shutouts. But Fleury has 21, and a lot of career ahead of him.

    Fleury's .909 save percentage is better than Barrasso's .896, and his 2.70 goals against average is significantly better than Barrasso's 3.27 career number.

    While the biggest difference people might point to is Barrasso's two Cup rings to Fleury's one, let's revisit that discussion next July.

San Jose Sharks: Evgeni Nabokov

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    The divorce between Nabokov and the Sharks might not have been pretty, but his numbers dwarf anyone else in team history. His 293 wins are 228 more than anyone else in team history, and his 50 shutouts are 40 more than any other Shark netminder.

St. Louis Blues: Glenn Hall

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    In a long and colorful history, the Blues really haven't had many incredible goalies. The best of them, however, was a man who was best remembered for his time with the rival Blackhawks.

    Hall is still (somehow) the all-time leader in Blues' history with 16 shutouts. He won 58 games in only 140 appearances, and he shared the only Vezina in Blues history with teammate Jacques Plante in 1968-69 (when the award was given to the team allowing the fewest goals).

    The lasting image of Hall's time with the Blues was him as background in the legendary photo of Bobby Orr flying through the air.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Nikolai Khabibulin

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    He led the Lightning to their Stanley Cup victory in 2004, and is the career leader in victories (83), shutouts (14) and is second in appearance (192) behind only Daren Puppa's 206.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Turk Broda

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    "Not Johnny Bower?"

    Broda played with Toronto from 1936-52, and won 302 games for the Leafs. His 62 shutouts are almost twice as many as any other goalie in Leafs' history as well.

    Like Bower, Broda won two Vezina Trophies, but he won five Stanley Cups in Toronto to Bower's four.

Vancouver Canucks: Roberto Luongo

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    He might not be the fan favorite right now, but Luongo is only 11 wins away from tying Kirk McLean for the Canucks' all-time record, and his 28 shutouts are already the franchise best.

Washington Capitals: Olaf Kolzig

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    He won 301 games and had 35 shutouts for the Caps. The next-highest numbers in either category are 128 and 14. Kolzig also played in 442 more games than any other netminder in team history.

Winnipeg Jets: Ondrej Pavelec

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    It's their first season back in Winnipeg, and he's their starter.