Welcome to Justin’s 2nd Annual Top 30 Goaltenders List. If this is the first time you are reading the list, last year’s entries can be found here, here and here. The methodology of the list is the same as last year: taking into account present ability, future projection, durability, consistency and technique, this is the order in which I would advise my hypothetical “team” to seek out a goaltending solution. This “team” is an amalgamation of every roster construction circumstance throughout the league. In other words, my “team” has no short or long-term priorities, cap restrictions or player loyalties.
Since there was no comparable archive to last year’s list, I’m going to add in last year’s rankings to each tender this year, and since I’m a comprehensive guy (or just like to hear myself talk; yup, definitely one of those) in each of the three posts comprising the list, I will highlight the players left off the list from last season and explain my rationale for their omission. This will be the “Dropped” section.
Before we get going here are this year’s honorable mentions: Read more »
Henrik Lundqvist’s contract situation has been quite the hot topic since the season ended. Prior to his non-committal remarks as to his future, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Hank would remain in New York long-term. Since extension-gate and the coaching change, combined with news that Lundqvist’s camp and the Rangers are commencing negotiations at the Draft in a few days, there has been much speculation about what a possible extension would look like. Many pundits have theorized a possible max-contract to keep The King in his kingdom, but there hasn’t been much in the way of analysis. Let’s change that, shall we?
For those who aren’t CBA geeks, the max-contract under the current collective bargaining agreement (for a player re-signing with his current club) is 8 years/$80 million. For a UFA changing destinations it is 7 years/$70 million. Hank is currently entering the final year of his 6 year/$41.45 million contract, signed in 2008. If he were to receive a max-deal, the massive cap hit of $10 million would be approximately a $3.125 million increase from his current contract. Even with the cap increasing again based on the HRR (Hockey Related Revenue) calculation in 2014-2015, the cap hit is staggering.
The implementation of the new CBA has changed the landscape of long-term extensions for superstar players. Gone are the cap-circumventing 12-14 year deals and the suppressed cap values that came with them. This alone makes forecasting an elite free agent contract all the more difficult. Not to mention that goalies are generally priced differently than players are, anyway. Read more »
The plan for this lock-out shortened season was to be able to keep Hank in a rhythm, but to also make sure he was well rested for what should be a long playoff run. As we all know, things rarely go according to plan, and the Rangers ended up using Henrik for 43 of the 48 regular season games this year. We projected at the beginning of the campaign that Marty Biron should start about 12 games in order to give Hank the appropriate amount of rest. He played in 5.
This was the result of inconsistent production, down years for key offensive players, a lack of depth, and no training camp when almost half of last year’s forward crop turned over. With a playoff spot requiring almost every regular season game to lock up, playing Biron was a luxury the Blueshirts couldn’t afford. Let’s see how the keepers’ performances grade out this season… Read more »
After a frustrating end to the Rangers’ season in Boston several days ago, the voracious New York media was bestowed with the “We’ll see” heard round the world. Henrik Lundqvist’s non-committal response to his future in New York almost imploded the entire hockey media. Articles were written, page hits were had, and ad revenue rained down on media outlets. Many observers and analysts alike feel that the King possibly moving kingdoms was the impetus for John Tortorella’s unceremonious dismissal on Wednesday. Obviously, I’m not behind the New York Ranger curtain, so I couldn’t tell you with any certainty whether this is true, but I can dig a little deeper into those comments and see if the “threat” is credible in this case.
For those who missed it (and I’m paraphrasing), when asked about his long term future with the team, Hank responded with the functional equivalent of “we’ll see, I need to talk to my agent”. Normally, this is a very typical response from a player when asked about his contract, but considering Hank’s importance and impact on the franchise, his remarks were bound to cause a stir. Read more »
Although he has been criticized –especially early in the season– and he is without a shutout (yet), could Henrik Lundqvist quietly have moved into the Vezina candidates once again, this season?
With Craig Anderson and his other worldly numbers surely out of contention because a lack of games (16 games is surely not enough to warrant consideration), Lundqvist has a few key differences to most of his Vezina competition this year. For the most part he’s suffered from a lack of goal support, while he has also had to battle to keep his team in the playoff mix.
Of goaltenders that have started 25 games or more, only Tuukka Rask has a better GAA than The King, while Lundqvist boasts the league’s best save percentage (again, discounting Anderson’s 16 game assault on the statistics). Then there’s the good old fashioned win column. The King has 17 wins which given his lack of goal support (The Rangers sit 26th overall in goal scored) is impressive, and places Lundqvist 6th overall. With guys such as Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price playing on clubs having more successful seasons than the Rangers, it’s hard not to respect the numbers the Rangers goalie has quietly assembled. However, how much will the lack of shutouts hurt his case for Vezina nomination?
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“Shortening goalie pads is more important to me than this “concussion” nonsense”.
Every once in a while, something happens in the hockey world that compels me to get up on my soapbox and rant about it. The last time this happened, it was the heated debate over the Milan Lucic/Ryan Miller hit. That one helped get me a gig writing for BSB, so unfortunately for all of you, it has emboldened me to stand up on that box once again…
Goalies are getting in the way. Their entire existence is devoted to removing the most exciting play in hockey: the goal. Everyone wants more scoring; the league, the fans, the analysts. Casual fans get into 7-6 barn burners way more easily than 1-0, tightly checked, defense-first games. Ever since Lockout II in ‘04-‘05, the league has looked for ways to improve goal scoring to broaden hockey’s appeal.
They have toyed with wider, bowed-out nets, they have limited the goalie’s ability to play the puck, and implemented a wide range of physical limitations on the size of the equipment goalies wear. Most famously, limiting the width of leg pads from 12” to 11” (which, was a good thing). Not to mention the breathtakingly long list of proposed improvements that the NHL has not allowed for, and incremental disallowance of many commonly used protective features, which could, in theory*, give the goalie an undeserved advantage.
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Image Credit: Bauer.com
Since the Rangers have been kind of bumming me out recently (last night’s domination notwithstanding), I thought I’d take a look at a relatively recent development in goalie equipment and how it has revolutionized the industry. In the skate department, that innovator generally tends to be Bauer. On both the player and goalie side there have significant landmark products that change the landscape of how skates are constructed, utilized and improved.
Starting back with the original Vapor line, Bauer sought to reduce weight, while increasing stiffness and quality of the materials used in skate construction. In 2003, Bauer had its biggest breakthrough in skate technology, the Vapor XX. This skate was the lightest skate ever built at the time, and absolutely took the hockey world by storm. I was working at a pro-shop at the time, and remembered thinking they had lightened them up to the point they felt like a running shoe. It was insane.
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Good goalie, a little suspect in shootouts
Coming into the lockout shortened year, a consensus emerged that due to the abbreviated schedule, Marty Biron was going to play a major role for the Blueshirts this season. Back at the beginning of January, The Suit did a great job highlighting this need. Our sartorially inclined colleague opined that Biron should get at least 12 games this season in order to keep Hank fresh and keep his overall workload reasonable.
So far, this hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Due to the slow start the Rangers had to the season, our resident Marty has only appeared in three games so far (once in relief and starts against TB and the Isles, last night). This puts him on pace to start well under ten games during the regular season. Obviously not an ideal workload share for a potential long playoff run.
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The Rangers are blessed with the King but shouldn’t assume he’s around forever.
The Rangers are in an enviable situation with Henrik Lundqvist manning their net at an age where he can continue playing at a high level for a long time behind what should be a contender for several seasons. The immediate future in net is bright, but those who think the club should sit back and rest on their laurels should be warned.
The Rangers need to begin seriously thinking about drafting a goalie for the future. Of course, their fingers may be a little burnt and their draft trigger finger a little hesitant given the disappointing outcomes from drafting Al Montoya, Antoine LaFleur, and Scott Stajcer, but the Rangers need to keep an eye on the future. This is made more apparent as current back up Marty Biron (no matter how talented) isn’t exactly a rookie himself either.
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Can the King keep his streak alive?
In my humble opinion, despite the absence of a Stanley Cup, Henrik Lundqvist is already the greatest goaltender ever to wear Ranger red white and blue. Likely to reach four hundred career wins with ease (health allowing), a legitimate chance at a Stanley Cup, and numerous additional Vezina’s, there won’t be much the superstar Swede won’t have achieved when all is said and done. His career is already proceeding at an unprecedented pace as a Ranger goaltender.
Right now, Lundqvist owns a pretty impressive NHL record. He is the first goaltender to win at least thirty games in seven seasons in a row to begin his NHL career. He’s been extending his own record for a season or two already. Here’s the food for thought: can he continue that impressive streak this year? Do you get a pass (aka an asterix next to your record) because of the shortened season?
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