NHL Position Rankings for the 2022-23 Season: Goalies

Joe YerdonSeptember 18, 2022

NHL Position Rankings for the 2022-23 Season: Goalies

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    Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman rock the postgame celly better than anyone (Photo: Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

    There's no one position on the ice that gets more attention, love, and grief than goaltending.

    Whether your team has an absolute No. 1 starter, a shared net, or a conglomeration of net minders looking to take control of the position, they’re unified by the fact they all know it’s on them to help the team win. And that’s why we’re going to rank out the goalies from worst to best to make sure we all know where they stand…or go into the butterfly.

    All we’ve got to go by is how everyone finished up last season and the impressions that left. It doesn’t matter that no one has yet to make a highlight-reel save or let a leaky rolling puck go through the five-hole in an excruciatingly slow-motion disaster. What we say here at B/R is what goes and that’s that.

    As always, our rankings are the unassailable gospel of hockey and should be taken as such with absolutely zero arguments whatsoever.

    Just kidding, flame away, we’re expecting it.

    Some explaining for the format: for teams that don't have a defined No. 1 goalie, we grouped their goalie situation together. We also gave a further in-depth analysis of our Top 10 goalies.

32-26: Grubauer, Devils, Vejmelka, Golden Knights, Sabres and Allen

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    It's Jake Allen's net in Montreal for now. (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    32. Philipp Grubauer - Seattle Kraken

    No one ever said being the starter on an expansion team would be easy, but Grubauer took his lumps in Seattle and didn’t do himself any favors either. He had the lowest save percentage of any goalie who played 25 or more games (.889) and the lowest goals saved above expected as well (-33.7). You'd like to think there's no place to go but up, and for Grubauer's peace of mind we sure hope so.

    31. Mackenzie Blackwood - New Jersey Devils

    Health and consistency have plagued Mackenzie Blackwood in New Jersey and in the past couple of seasons when he has been healthy, he's struggled. He's not yet turned 26, so he's still plenty young enough and should be hitting his prime now. New Jersey has a fair bit of talent, but it hasn't melded together just yet. Blackwood could fix that by returning to his second-year self when he started 47 games and had a .915 save percentage.

    30. Kaapo Kahkonen and James Reimer - San Jose Sharks

    Kaapo Kahkonen should get most of the starts, but James Reimer is an excellent veteran to spell him…or take over if needed. Kahkonen was very good as the backup to Cam Talbot in Minnesota, but the Sharks' situation is a fair bit different than it was with the Wild. Reimer is as dependable as can be but asking him to own the net against the younger Kahkonen would work against conventional thinking.

    29. Karel Vejmelka - Arizona Coyotes

    Vejmelka came out of nowhere to take the starting gig in Arizona, but is the situation any better to improve play around him? Arizona added a lot of big, physical players who will attempt to wear out teams so they can't unleash a barrage of shots nightly on the 26-year-old Czech. Vejmelka's .898 save percentage last year doesn't seem promising, but he's about all they have.

    28. Logan Thompson, Laurent Brossoit and Adin Hill - Vegas Golden Knights

    Among the many mysteries surrounding Vegas this season, the most fascinating one is who will lead the way in goal. With Robin Lehner out for the season, place your bets on who winds up with more starts: Logan Thompson, Laurent Brossoit, or Adin Hill. Thompson is the young upstart looking to claim the net for himself while Brossoit and Hill are guys who have cut their teeth as part-time starters and backups in search of solidifying a starting gig.

    27. Eric Comrie and Craig Anderson - Buffalo Sabres

    Buffalo’s attack in goal has Eric Comrie who is mostly unproven (28 NHL games) and 41-year-old Craig Anderson splitting duties. The Sabres took a bit of a gamble signing Comrie as a free agent this summer, but if the bet pays off it will solve a lot of potential problems at goalie in the near future. If Comrie struggles and Anderson takes charge the question becomes: How many games can he do it for? Pushing him to play as many games as his age is probably asking too much.

    26. Jake Allen - Montréal Canadiens

    Allen hasn’t had great injury luck with Montréal, but the net is his now to run with. He’s a few years past his best play and the Canadiens would love to see him get back to it. At his peak he was capable of save percentages between .910 and .920. With how the Habs lineup is set up to be, if he can accomplish that he'll give them a fighting chance to win each night. Going below that means things could get ugly quickly.

25-21: Maple Leafs, Mrazek, Avalanche, Senators, Hart

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    Carter Hart wants to continue the upward trend in his play (Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    25. Toronto Maple Leafs - Ilya Samsonov & Matt Murray

    The Maple Leafs have Stanley Cup aspirations and they're heading into the season with two goalies looking to rebound from a recent run of poor play. That doesn't sound very encouraging for hopes to see a celebration in June. Samsonov's play has regressed in each of his three seasons while Murray escaped Ottawa after spending time in the AHL last season. He performed better last season compared to the previous two, but the pressure will be on both players immediately. Toronto hopes they thrive in the spotlight because they'll have to or else.

    24. Petr Mrazek - Chicago Blackhawks

    Chicago isn't poised to be a contender for anything this season except for maybe the best chances of winning the NHL Draft Lottery in April, but bringing Mrazek in gives them someone looking to put his Toronto experience well behind him. The 30-year-old Czech has had up and down results season-to-season and if the pattern holds, he'll be better this season provided he can stay healthy. A groin injury wreaked havoc on his season in Toronto and often times those injuries persist. If he stays healthy and if he rebounds, he'll keep Chicago in the win column more than they're expected to be.

    23. Alexandar Georgiev & Pavel Francouz - Colorado Avalanche

    When Darcy Kuemper signed with the Washington Capitals in free agency, seeing how the defending champions were going to address the net was going to be a fascinating situation. Colorado opted to make a deal with the New York Rangers for Georgiev and sign him to a three-year, $10.2 million deal. That would point to Georgiev having a slight nod ahead of Francouz, but Georgiev has to show he can handle a potentially increased workload. Francouz had a similar workload to Georgiev the past two seasons and his raw numbers are far better. A loaded team playing in front of them can cure most ills.

    22. Cam Talbot & Anton Forsberg - Ottawa Senators

    Talbot and Forsberg might both have chips on their shoulders, Talbot was relegated to backup status when the Wild traded for Marc-Andre Fleury while he was having a very good season. He'll want the net, but Forsberg's play with the Senators last season was very strong (.917 save percentage) and he won't want to give it up without a battle. The plan for Ottawa is that competition will drive them both to be at the top of their games and the team will reap the benefits. It's fair to expect they'll ride the hot hand until it turns cold.

    21. Carter Hart - Philadelphia Flyers

    Hart’s time in Philadelphia has seen a lot of tumult, but will John Tortorella’s style make it better or worse? The 24-year-old enters his fifth season after bouncing back last year from a brutal 2020-2021 season. Going from a .877 save percentage to a more respectable .905 is a welcome return to the form and promise Hart showed in his first two seasons (.915 on average). The Flyers have a lot of holes this season, but with Torts' brand of hockey and demand for more disciplined play, the hope is what will help Hart. It'll take a little bit of time for Tortorella's system to settle in, so it'll be up to Hart to hold it down in the meantime. The net is all his because if he can't continue to rebound, there's a lot of NHL inexperience behind him.

20-16: Gibson, Fleury, Kings, Binnington, Merzlikins

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    Can Marc-Andre Fleury's magic kick in once again?(Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

    20. Elvis Merzlikins - Columbus Blue Jackets

    "Elvis" may have been a disappointing movie, but this Elvis is just getting warmed up as Columbus' starter. He spent the first two of his three NHL seasons dueling with Joonas Korpisalo for time in the net and ultimately won out last season. The increased workload may have taken a toll on Merzlikins. After a collective .920 save percentage in split duty his first two seasons, he posted a .907 in 59 appearances (56 starts) last season. If it's a red flag, the Blue Jackets haven't treated it as such because they're running it back with Merzlikins and Korpisalo once again. Clearly, his ability is there, but he'll have to show he can handle the workload of a No. 1 and keep the quality of play up.

    19. John Gibson - Anaheim Ducks

    Gibson's career has been fascinating to watch. He was one of the best young goalies and had a four-season stretch in which he had a collective .922 save percentage and 16 shutouts from 2015-2019. The past three years, however, have been more difficult as the Ducks' play dropped off and the number and severity of injuries increased. In his past three seasons, Gibson posted a .904 save percentage with five shutouts and went 47-71-23 in that time. Now at 29 years old, he'll be looking to get back to what he's done early in his career. Everyone knows what he's capable of doing in the net; the question is whether or not he can do it again.

    18. Jonathan Quick & Cal Petersen - Los Angeles Kings

    The plan for L.A. has always been for Petersen to ascend and grab the goaltending torch from Quick as the latter's age climbed and (presumably) his skills would lessen. Funny that. Quick thrived last season with a .910 save percentage (his best since 2017-2018) on a much-improved Kings team while Petersen struggled with a .895 save percentage. Perhaps it was a blip of a season for Petersen, but he and Quick will likely split duties again. It's the final year of Quick's contract so if Petersen can seize the majority of starts with improved play, the Kings could be a dangerous team in the West.

    17. Jordan Binnington - St. Louis Blues

    Binnington was given a true run for his money as the Blues' No. 1 goalie by Ville Husso in which Husso was significantly better (.919 save percentage to Binnington's .901) and earned more starts in the regular season. Husso also was the Blues' starting goaltender for the playoffs...until things went very badly for him and Binnington assumed the role again. This season, Thomas Greiss will back up Binnington which bodes well for him getting more starts. But if the Blues are going to be serious contenders in the West, they desperately need Binnington to return to the form that forced him into the starting role in their 2019 run to the Stanley Cup.

    16. Marc-Andre Fleury - Minnesota Wild

    Everyone's favorite goalie had his spirit renewed when he was dealt by the Blackhawks to Minnesota to solidify their goaltending last season and he re-signed with the Wild to take another run with a talented group. Fleury bumped Cam Talbot out of the starting job into the playoffs where the Wild were upended in the first round by St. Louis. Fleury's flat numbers look average (.908 overall, .910 in 11 games with the Wild) but some of his deeper numbers point to his value. He had a .931 save percentage at even strength with Minnesota. A small sample, yes, but points to potentially good things. However, he had the fourth-lowest goals saved above expected at minus-17.6. Minnesota needs the 37-year-old to be better than average to accomplish their dream.

15-11: Red Wings, Bruins, Oettinger, Campbell, Jarry

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    Jake Oettinger was a force in the playoffs (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

    15. Ville Husso & Alex Nedeljkovic - Detroit Red Wings

    A little high? Maybe, but the addition of Husso for Detroit is a signal they are willing to take a gamble to end the mini-drought and get back to the postseason. Husso has 57 games in the NHL with St. Louis and 40 of them came last year after he took the starting job from Jordan Binnington. If there's a reason to be hesitant about him, it's the lack of experience. Although he was replaced by Binnington in the playoffs, getting lit up by Colorado is a noble way to go out. Nedeljkovic is in the final year of his contract so Husso will have very good competition for starts. A reduced workload for "Ned" may work in Detroit's favor as well because he had a .901 save percentage in 59 appearances (52 starts) last season.

    14. Jake Oettinger - Dallas Stars

    The Dallas goaltender's celebrity is on the rise after an incredible performance in a seven-game loss to Calgary in the playoffs. He allowed 13 goals in seven games and had an incredible .954 save percentage and one shutout in pushing the Flames to the limit. This followed a regular season in which he had the majority of starts among Stars goalies with 46 and 48 total appearances. His .914 save percentage was an improvement over his rookie season of .911. But after seeing what he did in the postseason, expectations are high on the nearly 24-year-old from Minnesota. How he handles playing more games will be something to keep an eye on through the season.

    13. Linus Ullmark & Jeremy Swayman - Boston Bruins

    The Bruins' duo accomplished something remarkable in their first season together. They each appeared in 41 games and had 39 starts making it a true 1A-1B situation. Ullmark's save percentage was just a bit better (.917 to .914) but Swayman had three shutouts to Ullmark's one, and his goals-against average was 0.04 lower than Ullmark's (2.41 to 2.45). But it was Swayman who relieved Ullmark in their seven-game series loss to Carolina after Ullmark struggled in the first two games. Swayman went the rest of the way and helped get Boston back into the series. It would seem like Swayman has the edge to start the season, but if you can roll two goalies who play roughly the same way, that's a luxury.

    12. Tristan Jarry - Pittsburgh Penguins

    After a few seasons of going neck-in-neck with Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith, Jarry commanded the Penguins net last season and made it count. He went 34-18-6 in 58 appearances with a .919 save percentage and helped the Penguins to third place in the Metropolitan Division. While DeSmith remains in Pittsburgh, it's clear the net is Jarry's as long as he continues to play like this. He had four shutouts, and his 2.42 goals-against average were both career bests. The Penguins thrive when they have consistency rather than competition in the net and Jarry's continued solid play will keep people wondering when, if ever, the Penguins will tumble down the standings.

    11. Jack Campbell - Edmonton Oilers

    Going to Edmonton to be the goalie that could lead Connor McDavid to the promised land and bring a Stanley Cup back to Edmonton for the first time since 1990 is a daunting job to take on. Fortunately, Campbell spent last season as the starter for the Toronto Maple Leafs so he's already well-versed in pressure-packed situations. Campbell thrived in the spotlight with a .916 save percentage in two-plus seasons with Toronto. For two straight seasons, he was the starter in the playoffs as the Maple Leafs took hard seven-game series losses in the first round against Montreal and Tampa Bay. Campbell has been a bit of a late bloomer, but the first-round pick from the 2010 Draft has emerged as an outstanding goalie and he gives the Oilers their best hope in net in some time.

10: Thatcher Demko - Vancouver Canucks

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    Things in Vancouver may have been a bit up and down the last few seasons, but Thatcher Demko seizing the starting job gave them one part of the roster they didn’t have to worry about anymore. Demko spent his first full season with the Canucks as Jacob Markstrom’s backup, but for the past two seasons, he’s been the No. 1 guy with ease. He’s put up a .915 save percentage each of the past two years and received a third-place vote for Vezina last season.

    Demko’s rise to the NHL was executed with patience. He was drafted in the second round in 2014 from Boston College where he was a starter for three years. After he signed his pro contract, he spent the next two seasons with Utica in the AHL before becoming the backup to Markstrom in 2019-2020.

    Being able to develop a relatively high draft pick into the starting goalie in the NHL might seem logical, but not everyone goes about it the same way or with the same kind of speed. For the Canucks, Demko taking charge is exactly what they wanted and needed and at 26-going-on-27-years-old, he’s in his prime years.

9: Darcy Kuemper - Washington Capitals

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    It’s been an incredible ride to the top for Darcy Kuemper throughout his career and he’s very sneakily been one of the better goalies in the NHL. Through 10 years and with four different teams, Kuemper’s career save percentage is .918 which ties him for 11th all-time among goalies with 200 or more NHL games. This is the same as the likes of Corey Crawford, Cory Schneider, and Henrik Lundqvist and if this surprises you, you’re probably not alone. What’s kept him such a secret is he’s played for average to below-average teams until he landed in Colorado last season.

    Kuemper’s been part of a playoff team five times in his career, three times with the Minnesota Wild, once in the bubble playoffs with Arizona, and of course, winning the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche. Kuemper’s best statistical seasons came with the Coyotes after he was dealt there by the Los Angeles Kings, but he regained that form last season with a .921 save percentage in Denver.

    The funny thing about winning a Cup is it means you get your career examined a bit closer, and in Kuemper’s case it only means getting to appreciate what he’s been able to do before really hitting his prime in 2017-2018. If he can lead the Capitals back to the top in the Eastern Conference, it’ll be hard to overlook him ever again.

8: Sergei Bobrovsky - Florida Panthers

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    Sergei Bobrovsky might be one of the more divisive goaltenders in the NHL. When he broke out with the Columbus Blue Jackets after two seasons in Philadelphia, he appeared poised to be one of the NHL’s most dominant goalies for years to come. He won the Vezina with Columbus in 2012-2013; it helped make the Flyers’ choice of Ilya Bryzgalov look even worse. When he won the Vezina again in 2016-2017 it locked him in as one of the best in the league. But after he signed a seven-year, $70 million contract with Florida, things got a little sketchy.

    His first two seasons with Florida saw him post a .902 save percentage and have one shutout. Last season, however, Bobrovsky was back on the case. He went 39-7-3 for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers with a .913 save percentage and three shutouts and he was fourth in goals saved above expected. At nearly 34 years old the only question about him is if last season’s success is the new norm or not. With Florida’s level of talent up and down the lineup, it’s easy to think that the old Bob can be new again in Sunrise.

7: Jacob Markstrom - Calgary Flames

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    Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom has long been a player on the rise, and now under coach Darryl Sutter, his time has arrived to show how great he can be.

    He’s been a consistently strong goaltender since becoming a starter in 2017-2018 and over five seasons with Vancouver and Calgary his overall save percentage clocks in at .914. But after a tough first season with Calgary in which he posted a .904 save percentage during a tumultuous year, he roared back with a career-high .922 last year and was second in voting for the Vezina Trophy behind Igor Shesterkin.

    Markstrom has always had the traits to be a top goalie. He’s big (6’6”, 206 pounds), he’s athletic, and he’s capable of making highlight reel saves when the moment calls for it. Ever since he had the opportunity to start in Vancouver, he’s run with it. Now as the Flames’ starter in Sutter’s notoriously defensive system, it’s accentuated his ability. The key now is maintaining consistency. With his defense making life a bit easier in front of him, it’s a huge advantage for Calgary.

6. Frederik Andersen - Carolina Hurricanes

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    One thing about Frederik Andersen throughout his career is his remarkable consistency. Dating back to his time with the Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Andersen has been an outstanding goaltender who has put up outstanding numbers. Over nine years, his career save percentage is .916; for each of his teams, he’s been very consistent. If there’s something that teams like it’s when they know what to expect from a player year in and year out, especially when the results are strong.

    After five seasons in Toronto where he had a .914 save percentage and a 149-74-36 record, his first season with Carolina saw him go 35-14-3 with an outstanding .922 save percentage, tied for third-best in the NHL with Jacob Markstrom. That’s the good stuff when it comes to Andersen’s consistency, the bad stuff comes from injuries.

    An assortment of ailments both nagging and long-term have plagued the nearly 32-year-old from Denmark and a lower-body injury late last season prevented him from starting for Carolina in the playoffs. Injuries are a part of the sport, but for the past few seasons, they’ve contributed to short-circuiting Andersen’s season in some form. What’s equally frustrating is that when he does play in the postseason his numbers match up almost identical to his season stats. Andersen is outstanding and the Hurricanes hope that injury luck will be on his side sooner than later.

5. Ilya Sorokin - New York Islanders

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    While the New York Rangers starter was stealing games and headlines, the New York Islanders’ Russian goaltender was very quietly dominating on Long Island. It may have been hard to notice Sorokin because of how difficult last season was for the Islanders, and with Igor Shesterkin rolling in Manhattan, but watching the now 27-year-old makes Isles fans even more pained it took him as long as it did to come to North America.

    After 22 games in 2020-2021 in which he went 13-6-3 with a .918 save percentage, his workload more than doubled and the results were even better the next season. In 52 starts, Sorokin posted a .925 save percentage, second in the NHL behind Shesterkin, and finished with a 26-18-8 record helping the Islanders recover to fifth place in the Metropolitan Division.

    He may have only 74 games in his NHL career, but his career numbers in the KHL (134-64-22, .930 save percentage, 44 shutouts in eight seasons) pointed toward him being able to perform at an elite level and to this point, it’s proving to be correct.

4. Juuse Saros - Nashville Predators

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    If it wasn’t for Filip Forsberg’s incredible offensive explosion for the Predators last season, a lot more people may have noticed how Jusse Saros was the driving force behind their run to the playoffs last season. Saros was the Predators’ workhorse in goal as he started 67 games last season with a .918 save percentage. Carrying that kind of workload is virtually guaranteed with Nashville goalies, especially when Saros took over after Pekka Rinne’s retirement. Even with those big skates to fill, Saros has been great as the Preds' No. 1 for the past three seasons.

    This past season he was a Vezina Trophy finalist, although a late-season ankle injury cost him the opportunity to guide his team in the playoffs in which they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champions Colorado Avalanche. Does Saros make an upset happen if he played? Most likely not, but he’s one of few goalies where you could draw it up and not be accused of being insane. A healthy Saros gives the Predators a chance to win every night…which is good because that’s how often he plays.

3. Connor Hellebuyck - Winnipeg Jets

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    No goalie in the NHL faced more rubber last season than Connor Hellebuyck. In 66 starts, the Commerce, Michigan native saw 2,155 shots and made a league-best 1,962 saves. Of course, he also led the league in goals allowed with 193 and Winnipeg missed the playoffs by eight points. You can’t fault Hellebuyck for that though.

    Hellebuyck posted a .910 save percentage but he was eighth in the league at goals saved above expected with 16.7. Obviously, the volume of shots he faced affected that number, but it’s still the fact he had to face that many shots (32.7 per game).

    It was just back in 2019-2020 that he won the Vezina as the league’s best goalie and he’s been top-five in Vezina voting two other times. We know he’s good, we know he can carry the Jets on his back, and we know he can do it again…just get him some help on defense. After four straight seasons of facing the most shots in the league, it’s the least they can do.

2. Andrei Vasilevskiy - Tampa Bay Lightning

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    It might be easy to take a “what have you done for me lately” approach to ranking out NHL goalies but doing that with a goalie who has won the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons would be silly.

    Last season wasn’t absolutely what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing out of Andrei Vasilevskiy, but he was still outstanding and if a .916 save percentage (12th best in the NHL) is an outlier year, the Lightning is going to do just fine. Vasilevskiy’s save percentage was his lowest since 2015-2016 when he had a .910 as a backup to Ben Bishop. When you’ve set the bar extremely high, the expectations come with it.

    Vasilevskiy was one of the busier goalies with 63 starts (tied with Jacob Markstrom for third-most), had two shutouts, and led the NHL with 39 wins. He was also second to Igor Shesterkin in goals saved above expected with 28.4 meaning he was there for the team when the chances were better for a goal than not.

    Big goalies come up in big spots and the “Big Cat” has made it customary to own those moments throughout his Tampa Bay career. Expect a return to dominance from him this season.

1. Igor Shesterkin - New York Rangers

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    The brilliance of the Russian netminder last season was truly remarkable. He won the Vezina and was third in voting for the Hart Trophy as MVP. He posted a .935 save percentage and he had the best goals saved above expected in the NHL at 34.1, nearly six goals better than second place Andrei Vasilevskiy. Add in that he was third in the NHL in shutouts with six and that he faced an average of 30.6 shots per game and, well, it’s easy to see why he came away so decorated.

    There’s no reason to think it’ll be any different this season for Shesterkin when it comes to his results. Whether or not the Rangers’ team defense makes life a little easier on him or not, he excels in any situation. His power-play save percentage was second-best in the league at .929 which means even when opponents had their best chance to score against him, he shut the door constantly. It’s cliché to say the goalie must be the best penalty killer, but Shesterkin really was. With the Rangers on the rise and Shesterkin into his prime years, it’s easy to slide him in at No. 1.

    Statistics throughout courtesy of NHL, MoneyPuck, Elite Prospects, and Hockey Reference

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