The NHL's Top-10 Goalies Entering the 2021 Season

NHL Dec 10, 2020

Ranking the Top 10 NHL Goalies For 2021 Season

-- by Patrick Day

Compiling the following list, I took in consideration each goalie's stats, age, contract situation, team makeup, and goaltending philosophy.  

Some goalies have a higher ranking but have great contract value within the league, while others have the track record and team.  

I tried to be subjective and objective, actual versus potential.

Here's my rankings 1-10:

(1)  Andrei Vasilevskiy

2019-20 Stats- 52 GS. 35-14-0-3. 2.56 GAA .917 SV% 3 SO

(2)  Carey Price

2019-20 Stats- 58 GS. 27-25-6. 2.79 GAA .909 SV% 4 SO

(3)  Connor Hellebuyck

2019-20 Stats- 56 GS. 29-13-7. 2.57 GAA .922 SV% 6 SO

(4)  Frederik Andersen

2019-20 Stats- 52 GS. 29-13-7. 2.85 GAA .909 SV% 3 SO

(5)  Joonas Korpisalo

2019-20 Stats- 35 GS. 19-12-5. 2.60 GAA .911 SV% 2 SO

(6)  Ben Bishop

2019-20 Stats- 43 GS. 21-16-4. 2.50 GAA .920 SV% 2 SO

(7)  Carter Hart

2019-20 Stats- 40 GS. 24-13-3. 2.42 GAA .914 SV% 1 SO

(8)  John Gibson

2019-20 Stats- 51 GS. 20-26-5. 3.00 GAA .904 SV% 1 SO

(9)  Darcy Kuemper

2019-20 Stats- 29 GS. 16-11-2. 2.22 GAA .928 SV% 2 SO

(10)  Tuuka Rask

2019-20 Stats- 41 GS. 26-8-6. 2.12 GAA .929 SV% 5 SO

This year, Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning) leads the group for top goalie in the NHL.  Over the past few seasons, he has steadied the Lightning goaltending, winning awards and leading the team to a Stanley Cup last season.  

Vasilevskiy is also entering his age-26 season, the verge of his athletic prime.  Giving his stats, age, and team, he should be high on this list for the next few seasons.  His only issue would be his contract extension that might hamper the team from making acquisitions, but he has earned every dollar of the contract.  Tampa Bay can team him with average league level backups, not have too many cap issues, and maintain a championship and award-winning levels for years.

Next, Carey Price (MON), Connor Hellebuyck (WIN), Frederik Andersen (TOR), and Joonas Korpisalo (CLB) round out the Top 5.  Price is a little bit of a stretch; however, his team has made several moves this offseason to justify a top ranking.  Price can be on the top of his game, steal a series, and lead a team even in his age-33 season.  The only thing he is missing is a Finals appearance, or win, to top off his career.  

Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo are young and talented with teams that have developed them into strong candidates.  Korpisalo is on a team-friendly contract along with Columbus developing goaltenders in system.  He could be trade bait, a great value, or have the talent to lead a team to a playoff push.  Hellebuyck won his first Vezina in 2019 and is a workhorse for Winnipeg.  His games played and numbers give Winnipeg a fighting chance for a playoff spot despite not attracting free agents at market values.  

Frederik Andersen has been on a Toronto team that has had high expectations for the last few years.  His numbers have suggested that his contract number ($5 million in 2020) is justified.  He would be an excellent candidate for trade yet still be solid in net for a potential championship team.  He is not the reason they have underachieved (his numbers suggest solid performance) but rather he is keeping them in the hunt.  

Looking at the 6-10 spots, each goalie has some small flaw but has something in their situations to outshine those flaws.  

Ben Bishop (DAL) was non-existent in the 2019 playoffs, coming from an injury that did not heal in time.  His team, however, made an amazing Finals run.  His contract is not too burdensome and his partner, Anton Khudobin, was just extended.  Dallas could have a solid 1-2 punch and ease the load from Bishop.

Carter Hart (PHI) is just 22 and has the potential to be the next goaltending star.  Philadelphia has evened out their team, building around Hart, and had relative success in last years’ playoffs.  He is also on his entry-level deal, looking for either a bridge deal in the next year or some more long term.  Either deal will give Philadelphia cap space to make deals to improve.

John Gibson (ANA) and Darcy Kuemper (ARZ) are good goalies on bad teams.  Gibson is younger and has the contract to be stable in nets for Anaheim.  His numbers outplay his team, giving a bad team a chance to win every night, despite being on the losing end.  Kuemper is little older but on a team-friendly deal while carrying Arizona to a playoff series win.  His numbers suggest that on a better situated team, that team would be a Finals contender.  

Finally, Tuukka Rask has led Boston to Finals appearances, and has the stats and team around him to help his case.  He is entering his age 33 season, still has gas in the tank.  Rask, however, was clearly off his game while in the playoff bubble last season and led to him leaving his team in a playoff push to be with his family during a pandemic.  The unknown of Rask’s future within hockey; he is very private in his off-ice dealings, would give some pause yet he possesses the talent and work ethic that most teams need for a title run.

Agree?  Disagree?  Feel free to leave comments below, or contact me directly at:

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