The Top 60 NHL Goaltenders of All-Time: 45-31

April 13, 2020

This is the 2nd of a 4-part series. For Part 1, click here. Placements were decided based on a rigorous criteria and many hours of inner-deliberation. Objectively classifying netminders from different eras and styles is no easy feat, and currently employed goaltenders could be susceptible to change over time. For now, enjoy part 2!

 

                         Source: Boston Bruins          

                               

45) PETE PEETERS

246-155-51, 21 shutouts, 3.08 GAA, .886 save percentage

1 Vezina (1983), 1 First-Team All-Star (1983)

 

Pete Peeters has a name few should ever forget. Did his parents even want him to have a chance? The Edmonton native was picked 135th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1977 while the team was still riding the wave of success they had garnered a few years prior. Legendary netminder Bernie Parent suffered a career-ending eye injury in 1979, allowing Peeters to carve a place for himself in the city of brotherly love. 

 

Splitting time with Phil Myre in his first full year with the team, the Flyers set a record that has never been broken: going undefeated in 35 straight games (25 wins, 10 ties). Peeters went 22-0-5 before finally losing his first game of the season on February 19th, 1980. He was given the keys to drive the Flyers to the Cup finals against the surging New York Islanders. Bob Nystrom’s game 6 overtime goal over a sprawling Peeters was a bitter end to a historic season for Philly.

 

While still reliable in the ensuing years, he wasn’t able to replicate his play from 1979-80 and couldn’t seem to come up when it counted in the playoffs. His trade to Boston in 1982 gave him a fresh start and he managed to put together one of the best goaltending seasons throughout the entire 1980s.

 

He had another amazing undefeated streak, reaching 31 games without a loss, and finished the season with a record of 40-11-9, with 8 shutouts and a decade-lowest 2.36 goals against average. This earned Peeters the Vezina trophy and a place on the First All-Star team, as well as being named the runner-up for the Hart trophy, won by Wayne Gretzky. 

 

Sadly, Peeters wasn’t able to match that level of success the next few seasons, and in similar fashion to his limited time in Philadelphia, he was on the move again in 1985, this time to Washington. He showed up and played admirably for four seasons, splitting time with Bob Mason and Clint Malarchuk, before returning to the Flyers and closing out his career in 1991. He remains the only goalie in NHL history to have two unbeaten streaks of 25 or more games with separate teams.

 

                 Source: Claus Anderzen/Getty Images 

 

44) CHRIS OSGOOD

401-216-66-29, 50 shutouts, 2.49 GAA, .905 save percentage

3 Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2008), 2 Jennings (1996, 2008), 1 Second-Team All-Star (1996)

 

I always find myself scratching my head when it comes to Osgood. He will forever be synonymous with Detroit’s success in the 1990s as well as the late 2000s, yet I never felt as though he was comfortable and secure within a lineup of several Hall of Famers. He is ranked 13th all-time in regular season wins, with 401 to his credit (the lowest of those who have won 400+ games), and 9th all-time in playoff wins. He was the second goaltender to ever shoot the puck the length of the ice and score a goal (the first being Ron Hextall, who did it twice). 

 

The Red Wings had a phenomenal regular season in 1995-96, winning 62 games, but Osgood and the Octopi faltered in the Conference Finals to the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche. Mike Vernon was brought in a couple years prior to provide mentorship to the young Osgood, slated to serve a backup role. Vernon, however, would be given the starting job in the 1997 playoffs, winning the Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy. Vernon was then dealt to San Jose, allowing Osgood to blossom into a confident starter once again, culminating in the Red Wings repeating as champions.

 

Despite Detroit’s constant success in the regular season, Osgood was deemed expendable. He was picked up off waivers by the Islanders in 2001, and would spend a season-and-a-half in Long Island before he was traded to St. Louis at the 2003 deadline.

 

He joined the Red Wings once again after the lockout season, competing for the starting job with Manny Legace. Dominik Hasek returned to the Wings in 2006, and would go on to share the Jennings trophy with Osgood in 2008, as the latter went 27-9-4 with a 2.09 GAA. Osgood would be given a contract extension, as well as earning his third Stanley Cup, his second as an undisputed starter. His back-to-back shutouts against the Penguins in the final, as well as his 1.55 goals against average earned him nominations for the Conn Smythe. 

 

Upon his retirement in 2011, Osgood had a winning percentage of over 60%, and deserves credit where credit is due. Despite being seen as expendable throughout the majority of his career, he’ll forever be tied to the success of the Red Wings throughout the past twenty-five years, following up the occasional blunder with colossal saves.

 

                 Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

 

43) MIKE LIUT
293-271-74, 25 shutouts, 3.49 GAA, .881 save percentage
1 Ted Lindsay (1981), 1 First-Team All-Star (1981), 1 Second-Team All-Star (1987)

 

Despite being one of only a few goaltenders to not decorate their mask throughout their career, there was nothing bland about Mike Liut’s goaltending. Drafted by St. Louis at age 20 in 1976, he played his first two season of professional hockey in the WHA for the Cincinnati Stingers. Upon the merger with the NHL in 1979, Liut joined the Blues, going 32-23-9 in his first season.

 

He most certainly did not suffer from a ‘sophomore slump’, as his 33-14-13 record in 1980-81 earned him the Lester B. Pearson trophy (now called the Ted Lindsay trophy) for MVP of the regular season as voted by his fellow players. He was the runner-up for the Hart, losing to Wayne Gretzky, but still earned First-Team All-Star honours. 

 

The Blues would often make a decent run in the post-season, but could never return to the finals like they had during their first three years as a franchise. Liut’s lucrative contract needed to be shed, and despite the Blues being in first place in the Norris division in 1984-85, he was traded to Hartford.

 

His tenure with the Whalers was deemed successful. He twice led the league in shutouts (in the 1980s, for what it’s worth) in 1987 and 1990, the former earning him a place on the Second All-Star team. The Whalers won their first division title that year, with Liut winning 31 contests and keeping his goal-against-average at a respectable 3.23.

 

He was then on the move again to Washington to finish the 1989-90 season, winding-up that campaign with a league-best 2.53 GAA. A series of back injuries forced him into retirement in 1992. He is the 1980s leader in wins (239), and shutouts (22), and still possesses various Whalers/Hurricanes franchise records.

 

                Source: Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images 

 

42) RON HEXTALL
296-214-69, 23 shutouts, 2.98 GAA, .895 save percentage
1 Vezina (1987), 1 Conn Smythe (1987), 1 First-Team All-Star (1987)

 

It would appear as though Ron Hextall’s rookie season was the peak of his career, but don’t let those numbers and accolades insinuate that it was all downhill after that. Hextall’s career is so full of obscure rowdiness that certain colleagues of mine at the Hockey Hall of Fame have called him the greatest goalie of all time. Well that might be a bit of a stretch, it would be hard to argue that he isn’t the most entertaining at the very least. 

 

After patiently waiting over four years to make his NHL debut after being drafted in 1982, Hextall surrendered a goal on the first shot he faced, but would go on to wrap up the season by winning the Vezina, the Conn Smythe, and earning First-Team All-Star honours as his Flyers lost a tough seven game series in the finals to the Oilers (the 4th player to win the Conn Smythe for a losing side). His vicious slash to the back of Kent Nilsson’s knees earned him an eight game suspension to start the 1987-88 season, as Hextall’s temper got him into several altercations throughout his career.

 

He finished with over 30 wins in each of his first three seasons, as well as over 100 penalty minutes. His stick wouldn’t just be used as a weapon, but as a piece of art. He twice scored a goal from the full length of the ice, once in the regular season and another in the playoffs, being the first ever to do so. He was superb at sending outlet passes down to streaking skaters, and he would roam from his crease to collect pucks in the corners to begin said outlet plays.

 

After struggling with some injuries in the early 1990s, he was traded three times in three years. He first went to Quebec as a part of the infamous Eric Lindros trade in 1992 and enjoyed some success in the Nordiques’ first playoff appearance in six years. He then played for the Islanders the next season and then was traded back to Philadelphia in 1994. 

 

His final five seasons in the league saw him achieve his best statistical results in terms of goals against average and shutouts. After earning only one shutout during his first three seasons, Hextall earned five in 1996-97 alone. He kept his GAA below 3.00 in each of his final five years in Philly, and was in goal during another Flyers Cup final series in 1997, this time losing to the Red Wings. Retiring in 1999, Hextall still holds Flyers records in games played as a goaltender, wins, playoff wins, points, and of course, penalty minutes.
 

                 Source: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

 

41) TUUKKA RASK
291-158-64*, 50 shutouts, 2.26 GAA, .922 save percentage
1 Stanley Cup (2011), 1 Vezina (2014), 1 First-Team All-Star (2014)

 

Maple Leafs fans shudder at the thought that Rask could still be wearing a blue and white uniform if management didn’t have so much faith in Andrew Raycroft or Justin Pogge. Rask was drafted as an 18-year-old in 2005 by Toronto, but was traded to Boston the following year to allow Raycroft to come in (and to his credit, set a Maple Leaf record for wins in a single season). Rask patiently toiled in the AHL with Providence, making scintillating saves and throwing tantrums when things went awry, much to the delight of the east-coast crowds. 

 

With Tim Thomas playing superbly, Rask would serve as backup the first few years of his career, earning his first win against the laughable Maple Leafs in 2007. He played in a majority of the games in 2009-10, being the only goaltender in the league to have a GAA below 2.00. Thomas regained the starters job the next season, and would take the Bruins all the way, winning the Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy. Rask wasn’t phased, and continued to compete, without question forming half of the best goaltending duo in the league.

 

Thomas left the Bruins prior the shortened 2012-13 season, allowing Rask to take control without much threat behind him. In the first round of the playoffs that year, Rask would thwart 134 out of 136 shots he faced, a 0.50 GAA and .985 save percentage. Holy mackerel. The Bruins would lose the Cup final to the Blackhawks in heart-breaking fashion, but Rask would rebound the next season by winning the Vezina and posting a record of 36-15-6. He led the league in shutouts in both 2013 and 2014, with 5 and 7, respectively. 

 

In 2018-19, he passed Tiny Thompson for most games played by a Bruins goaltender (with his 469th contest), and most wins by a Bruins goaltender (achieving this with his 253rd win). He damn near took the Bruins to glory in the 2019 postseason, once again losing in heart-breaking fashion, this time in seven games to the St. Louis Blues. At age 33, Rask still has several years to play, and as he closes in on 300 career wins, he will join an elite club of only 36 others to do so.

 

               Source: Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

 

40) GERRY CHEEVERS
230-102-74, 26 shutouts, 2.89 GAA, .905 save percentage
2 Stanley Cups (1970, 1972)

 

The man they called ‘Cheesie’ was as cool as they come. He didn’t care about individual praise or accolades, as long as his team was the one that would come away with the victory. He’s a true winner, not just in the fact that he has his name on the Cup twice, or that his memorable career resulted in just over 100 regulation losses in comparison to 230 wins, but in that he had heavy influence over the guys in the dressing room and was an all around treat to call your teammate. 

 

He was a product of the Maple Leafs in the early 1960s, even playing in two games during the 1961-62 season as a replacement to Johnny Bower. He was an adept forward in his youth, and when it came time for the 1965 intra-league draft, Punch Imlach so badly wanted to protect him (without actually protecting him), that he disguised Cheevers as a forward on the unprotected list. The Bruins weren’t foiled, and selected him, a decision that would pay off throughout portions of the next fifteen years.

 

Cheevers first split duties with Ed Johnston and Bernie Parent in Boston, but by the expansion era, he had the faith of coach Harry Sinden to lead the Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito-era Bruins to glory. Twice tasting champagne from Lord Stanley’s grail in 1970 and 1972 (as well as a couple more seasons where the Bruins should have been champions), he departed for three-and-a-half years to play in the WHA with Cleveland.

 

He returned in 1976, and would team up with Gilles Gilbert to form a dynamic goaltending duo for over four seasons, being runners-up for the Vezina in 1980. He then went on to coach the Bruins for five seasons. 

 

Cheevers twice led the playoffs in shutouts and wins, and it can easily be said that he would have won over 100 more games if he remained in the NHL instead of jumping to the rival league. He set a record by going undefeated in 32 games during 1972, despite the quirk that he could be the laziest person during team practice, often showing little to no effort at all.

 

He shouldn’t be labelled a ‘stand up goalie’, for he spent a lot of the time flopping around to make saves on his knees or his side. However, what will forever carry on as his legacy is his iconic stitch-mask; he was the first goaltender to decorate his mask by painting stitch marks over the places where he was struck by the puck, indicating the number of wounds he avoided had he not been sporting that blessed piece of equipment.

 

                 Source: Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images 

 

39) ANDY MOOG
372-209-88, 28 shutouts, 3.13 GAA, .891 save percentage
3 Stanley Cups (1984, 1985, 1987), 1 Jennings (1990)

 

Andy Moog is underrated. It’s a shame that he most likely won’t ever be inducted to the Hall of Fame, simply based off the fact that he has no individual accolades that set him apart from others. He’s an athlete who played 18 years in the NHL for four different franchises and was steady in each and every season. His name was inscribed on the Stanley Cup three times with the Oilers before he knew he had to distinguish himself from Grant Fuhr and head elsewhere to secure sufficient playing time. 

 

Moog and Fuhr had been battling for the right to declare themselves the king between the Edmonton pipes for over six years, with each starting in Cup clinching games and splitting time down the line. Moog left the Oilers in the 1987-88 season to play with the Canadian national team before the Calgary Olympic games, demanding a trade from Edmonton in the process. His wish was granted, and he and Bill Ranford swapped places, Moog ending up in Boston.

 

In Beantown, Moog teamed up with Rejean Lemelin, the former earning slightly more playing time, though the two would share the Jennings trophy in 1990 with Moog posting a respectable 2.88 GAA. Moog twice faced his former team in the finals in 1988 and 1990, both times coming out unsuccessful. In only six seasons in Boston, he managed to accumulate the second most playoff victories in team history (now sitting in third), and was close to winning a second Jennings trophy in 1993. 

 

During the two players strikes in 1992 and 1994, Moog had the title of Vice-President of the NHLPA, negotiating the terms that allowed play to resume after only a three-month delay during the second strike. 

 

He was traded to Minnesota in the 1993 offseason, who promptly relocated to Texas, giving Moog the satisfaction of being the first starting goaltender for the Dallas Stars. After four strong seasons, he closed out his career with Montreal in 1997-98, winning the Habs their first playoff series since their last cup in 1993. He took the second-fewest amount of games to win 300 matches, and still sits 18th on the all-time wins list.

 

                Source: Getty Images

 

38) JOHN VANBIESBROUCK

374-346-119, 40 shutouts, 2.98 GAA, .899 save percentage

1 Vezina (1986), 1 First-Team All-Star (1986), 1 Second-Team All-Star (1994)

 

Beeeeeeezer. Hailing from Detroit, John Vanbiesbrouck is yet another American who sits high on the all-time wins list (17th overall and 2nd to Ryan Miller for the USA). Drafted in 1981 by the Rangers, he would become a full-time member of the team in 1984. At only 5’8, he played much bigger than his size would dictate, winning the Vezina trophy in 1986 by capturing 31 wins, 3 shutouts, and a 3.32 GAA. His fundamentals seemed impeccable, and his technique of playing a relatively hybrid style impressed his coaches and former players alike. 

 

Fellow American Mike Richter came in during the 1989-90 season and took some of the workload off Vanbiesbrouck, though the two would play well together until the 1993 expansion draft saw Vanbiesbrouck traded to Vancouver before promptly being selected as Florida’s first expansion acquisition. Vanbiesbrouck seemed to have all the traits and temperaments required to be a solid expansion goaltender, and wouldn’t let the Panthers down.

 

In his first season in Miami, he was shortlisted for both the Hart and Vezina, earning Second-Team All-Star accolades. The 1995-96 season saw the Panthers and their infamous ‘Rat-Trick’ spectacle go all the way to the finals, losing to the recently relocated Colorado Avalanche in triple overtime in game 4. Vanbiesbrouck was shortlisted for the Conn Smythe, ultimately going to Joe Sakic, as his play in all four rounds of the playoffs was superb.

 

As a 35-year-old, he signed with the Flyers in 1998 and set a career low 2.18 GAA with 6 shutouts. He mentored a young Brian Boucher, and still managed to put up 25 wins in 1999-00 before departing once again, this time to the Islanders. 

 

He was then traded at the 2001 deadline to New Jersey, where he backed up Martin Brodeur for another kick at the can, unfortunately losing the Cup final that year to the Avalanche once again. Having played over 900 games including playoffs, he sits 6th all-time in losses, though he always carried himself with professionalism and grace in his times of struggle.

 

               Source: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

 

37) HENRIK LUNDQVIST

459-310-96*, 64 shutouts, 2.43 GAA, .918 save percentage

1 Vezina (2012), 1 First-Team All-Star (2012), 1 Second-Team All-Star (2013)

 

The all-time winningest European goaltender could hang up the pads anytime, as he just celebrated his 38th birthday while playing for a team that seems as though they won’t win him a Stanley Cup in the immediate future.

 

Selected as the 205th overall choice in the 2000 NHL entry draft, Lundqvist wouldn’t make his big league debut until 2005, the year after the lockout. Pundits took notice straight away, and his gold medal for Sweden at the 2006 Olympics as a starter ensured that he would remain at the forefront of NHL goaltenders for many years to come. 

 

He was the first Ranger rookie goaltender to win more than 20 games in their first season since Mike Richter. In his third season, he earned 8 shutouts, something a Ranger netminder hadn’t done since Ed Giacomin nearly four decades previously. It seems as though Lundqvist was destined to challenge long-standing franchise records, all the while being the fanciest dressed player in the game.

 

In 2013, he passed Martin Brodeur for most on the all-time shootout wins list, winning his 43rd match in one-on-one scenarios. In his first 12 seasons, King Henrik had 30 or more wins in 11 campaigns. He passed Richter for most wins in Rangers history in 2014, and passed Dominik Hasek for the aforementioned winningest European goalie with his 390th win on New Years Eve 2016. 

 

His 400th win came six weeks later, joining a club in which only 12 others are members. He is the only goaltender with 20+ wins in 13 consecutive seasons, and only the third goalie to play in 850+ games with the same club. He reached 450 victories this season, and though it seems his chances at lifting the Cup are slim, he still managed to win a Vezina in 2012 and receive finalist nominations on five other seasons.

 

A great ambassador and humanitarian not only for the game but for the city of New York and beyond, Lundqvist could very well see his plaque in the Hall of Fame one day.

 

               Source: Michael Burns/The Canadian Press Images

 

36) AL ROLLINS

141-205-83, 28 shutouts, 2.78 GAA, .905 save percentage

1 Stanley Cup (1951), 1 Vezina (1951), 1 Hart (1954)

 

Rollins is declared one of the finest goaltenders of the Original 6 era by many of his fellow players, who empathize that he never seemed to have his fair shake. An Allan Cup winner, he seemed to have only been signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1950 to put pressure on Turk Broda to lose weight. Having played two games in Broda’s absence the year before and showing signs of promise, Conn Smythe wanted the hefty Broda to trim down a few pounds, and if he didn’t meet his weigh-in by the beginning of the season, the job would belong to Rollins. 

 

Broda made the weigh-in, though it was still Rollins who played in the majority of the season, sharing the Vezina with Broda and winning the Cup that year thanks to Bill Barilko’s overtime heroics. He then played in all 70 games the next season, though his 2.22 GAA and 5 shutouts couldn’t save him from being traded to the piss-poor Blackhawks for Harry Lumley.

 

Playing for Chicago in the early 1950s was like being sent to hell. Nonetheless, Rollins backstopped the Blackhawks to game 7 of the 1953 semifinals, despite losing to the heavily-favoured Canadiens. The next season, the Blackhawks finished dead last, but Rollins would remarkably be given the Hart trophy, as many critics felt as though the 12-47-7 record he posted could have been 6-60 if anybody else took up the brave position of tending goal for Chicago. To be considered the league MVP for a last place club in today’s game would be extraordinary. 

 

He remains to this day one of only two eligible Hart trophy winners to not be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Rollins hung around Chicago for another few seasons until they acquired Glen Hall, and since it was still uncommon for teams to carry two goaltenders (knowing how durable Hall turned out to be), Rollins was sent to the minors. He returned in 1959-60, appearing in 10 games for the Rangers, but then disappeared quietly yet again, winning another Allan Cup at age 40 in 1966.

 

His talents always seemed to fall below the radar, demonstrating how difficult jobs were to hang onto during the Original 6. Rollins died in 1996.

 

                 Source: The Hockey News 

 

35) ED GIACOMIN

289-208-97, 53 shutouts, 2.82 GAA, .910 save percentage

1 Vezina (1971), 2 First-Team All-Star (1967, 1971), 3 Second-Team All-Star (1968, 1969, 1970)

 

From 1966-1972, very few others could say they were as pristine and dominant as Eddie Giacomin. The Rangers suffered through some tough years during the Original 6, but as the league prepared to double in size in 1967, they began assembling the right pieces to make some decent runs. Giacomin didn’t debut in the NHL until age 26 in 1965, but in his sophomore season, he led the league in shutouts with 9, earning the hilarious distinction of being the last goaltender to shut out every other team in the league at least once in a single season. 

 

The Rangers were climbing to new heights, and Giacomin would play between 66 to 70 games a year for four consecutive seasons. He led the league in shutouts again in both 1968 and 1971, the latter season earning he and comrade Gilles Villemure the Vezina trophy. The Rangers would lose a tough series to the Bruins in the 1972 Cup finals, the closest Giacomin would come to lifting Lord Stanley’s chalice.

 

His play after 1972 would continue to impress, though he was quickly approaching his mid 30s (an abundance of grey hairs spewing from behind his signature mask). Various injuries incurred in 1975 would be the straw that broke the trusty Ranger’s back, as he was traded to Detroit early in the 1975-76 season. His first game as a Red Wing was back at Madison Square Garden, and the ovation he received all throughout the 6-4 Detroit win was so powerful that Giacomin was moved to tears. 

 

Forever a fan favourite, his jersey was the second ever retired by the Rangers in 1989 (two years after his induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame), joining Rod Gilbert’s in the rafters. He retired in 1978, 11 wins shy of the sacred 300. He still ranks 40th all-time in victories, and 23rd in shutouts.

 

                 Source: Charles Krupa/AP/Shutterstock

 

34) TIM THOMAS

214-145-49, 31 shutouts, 2.52 GAA, .920 save percentage

1 Stanley Cup (2011), 2 Vezina (2009, 2011), 1 Jennings (2009), 1 Conn Smythe (2011), 2 First-Team All-Star (2009, 2011)

 

Tim Thomas is the definition of a late bloomer, mixed with timely fortunes. He was drafted in 1994 by Quebec, but he would never play for the Nordiques, or for anyone in the NHL at all until the 2002-03 season. His Boston debut came well after his 28th birthday, and even then, he wouldn’t cement his place as a consistent starter until he was 32.

 

Continuously floating back and forth from the Finnish league, Thomas’s first season as the Bruins no. 1 wasn’t the most impressive, as his GAA was a concerning 3.13. However, he did enough to earn a contract extension, and would prove his worth by winning the Vezina in 2008-09, going 36-11-7, with 5 shutouts and a Jennings-worthy GAA of 2.10.

 

With Tuukka Rask breathing down the nape of his neck, Thomas continued to put in solid performances the following years, as the Bruins were destined to win their first Cup since 1972.

 

In 2010-11, Thomas arguably had his career-defining season. He broke Dominik Hasek’s save percentage record by hanging a remarkable .938 over the course of 57 regular season appearances, adding 35 wins, 9 shutouts, and a GAA of exactly 2.00. In the playoffs, he turned it up once again, conceding only 8 goals in the full 7 games in the final series against Vancouver, as well as setting the record for most saves in a Cup final series with 238.

 

This made him the sure-fire winner of the Conn Smythe trophy, the oldest recipient at age 37. He was the first goaltender to win the Cup, the Vezina, and the Conn Smythe in the same season since Bernie Parent in 1975. 

 

Considered an odd-ball amongst the players community, the quirky netminder decided to sit out the entire 2012-13 season, and the Bruins moved on with Rask at the helm. Thomas played half a season in both Florida and Dallas before retiring in 2014.

 

                Source: SB Nation

 

33) MIKE VERNON

385-273-92, 27 shutouts, 2.98 GAA, .890 save percentage

2 Stanley Cups (1989, 1997), 1 Jennings (1996), 1 Conn Smythe (1997), 1 Second-Team All-Star (1989)

 

The Calgary-born Vernon was selected by (who else?) the Flames in 1981, which was only the city’s second year in the league. In the few games that Vernon would tend the net in the early 1980s, he was absolutely atrocious. But Calgary had ambition and motive to become champions one day, and it was the belief that Vernon was to be their goaltender of the future.

 

His first career win came in January of 1986, and he would find himself riding a bit of a hot streak as the playoffs approached. The Flames went with Vernon rather than Rejean Lemelin, and would not be disappointed, as Vernon kept his GAA below 3.00 in a highly-offensive era, despite coming up just short against the Canadiens in the finals. Nonetheless, he was here to stay, and would serve as the Flames starting goaltender for the next 8 seasons.

 

The Flames would win the Presidents trophy in 1988, with Vernon collecting 39 of the team’s 48 wins. They would repeat as league champions the following season, this time sealing the deal by capturing the Cup as well, Vernon earning a Second All-Star selection along the way. He was second in Vezina trophy voting behind Patrick Roy, but the Flames’ win over the Canadiens in a repeat finals matchup from three years ago gave Vernon the last laugh. 

 

Because he was born and bred in Calgary, having to constantly play ‘at home’ eventually got to Vernon. Crowd ridicule towards he and his family when he was playing poorly resulted in his parents refusing to attend anymore of his games out of concern for their own well being.

 

Vernon was able to escape Calgary in 1994 with a trade to Detroit, and would add a second Cup in 1997, along with a Conn Smythe. Originally slated to be Chris Osgood’s backup, the 34-year-old unseated the younger Osgood despite playing only 33 games in the regular season. He and Osgood had also shared the Jennings trophy the year before, with Vernon posting a fantastic GAA of 2.26. 

 

Vernon spent time in both San Jose and Florida before returning to Calgary for the final two years of his illustrious career. He currently is 16th all-time in regulation wins, 20th in games played, and 8th in playoff wins (with 77).

 

                 Source: Glenn Cratty /Allsport

 

32) TOM BARRASSO

369-277-86, 40 shutouts, 3.24 GAA, .892 save percentage

2 Stanley Cups (1991, 1992), 1 Vezina (1984), 1 Jennings (1985), Calder (1984), 1 First-Team All-Star (1984), 2 Second-Team All-Star (1985, 1993)

 

Barrasso began his career in incredible fashion. The Bostonian was drafted by the Sabres in 1983 right out of high school, and if his first two seasons in the league were any indication, he could have been one of the greatest of all time. His rookie year ended with a Calder and Vezina combo, as the teenager went 26-12-3 with a 2.84 GAA. The next year, he went 25-18-10, with 5 shutouts and a Jennings-worthy 2.66 GAA. 

 

It’s not that Barrasso heavily deteriorated after 1985, but normal and cruel stats towards goaltenders in the 1980s caught up with him, and he became another hopeless goalie in the flash flood. His career was rejuvenated with a 1988 trade to Pittsburgh, where he would fight through tough injuries to cement himself as one of the dominant goaltenders of the 1990s, winning Stanley Cups on back to back occasions in 1991 and 1992.

 

The Penguins were poised to three-peat in 1993, but the Islanders shocked them in 7 games in the second round, despite Barrasso having a solid season, earning a Second-Team All-Star selection.

 

He missed significant portions of both 1994-95 and 1996-97 due to injuries, but still became the first American-born goalie to win 300 games upon his 1997 return. His 1997-98 campaign saw him post a career low 2.07 GAA and .922 save percentage. Barrasso was traded to Ottawa in 2000 for Ron Tugnutt, as the Penguins and Senators were both gearing up for potential playoff runs by tinkering with their shot stoppers.

 

Barrasso would leave hockey after that season, partially due to his daughter going through cancer treatments, but would return in 2001-02 with Carolina. 

 

After brief stints with Toronto and St. Louis, Barrasso retired for good in 2003. He ranks 19th in all-time regular season wins and 15th in playoff victories (61). His athletic build is what gave him his longevity and made GMs like Carolina’s Jim Rutherford to desire his services even though he was nearing his late 30s. He developed more of a stand-up goaltending style down the stretch of his career, in contrast to how most goaltenders of his time went about performing their duties.

 

                 Source: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images 

 

31) CAREY PRICE

348-250-74*, 48 shutouts, 2.49 GAA, .917 save percentage

1 Vezina (2015), 1 Hart (2015), 1 Jennings (2015), 1 Ted Lindsay (2015), 1 First-Team All-Star (2015)

 

I so vividly remember Carey Price’s rookie year in 2007-08. The Habs already had one of my favourite goaltenders, Cristobal Huet, as well as the emerging Jaroslav Halak. Price’s addition to the squad showed immediate results, though this made him the scapegoat for errors since Huet and Halak would be frothing at the bit to supersede him.

 

In the 2010 playoffs when Halak went on a vicious tear by standing on his head against the #1 seed Capitals and the defending champion Penguins, I was skeptical that Price would be able to maintain his footing in Montreal. Thankfully, it was Halak who was dealt away to St. Louis in the offseason, and Price has definitely proved his worth ever since.

 

In 2010-11, he collected 38 wins with 8 shutouts, a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage, though the Canadiens would lose on a heartbreaking game 7 overtime goal to Boston in the first round. Price would also struggle with the occasional injury at the least opportune time, as his game 1 injury in the 2014 Conference Final against the Rangers still irks me to this day. 

 

However, his 2014-15 campaign can honestly be considered one of the greatest seasons in goaltending history (and definitely in the modern era). He set a team record with 44 wins, a GAA of 1.96, a save percentage of .933 and 9 shutouts. He became the second player in the (then) 106-year history of the Canadiens to win 4 major awards in a single season (Guy Lafleur being the first in 1976-77). In March of 2019, he passed Jacques Plante as the winningest goaltender in Canadiens history, earning his 315th victory. 

 

For Price to be considered one of the greatest goalies in Montreal history makes me feel as though I’m doing him an incredible disservice by not placing him higher on this list. That’s probably just my own reluctance to give excess credit to goalies who are still active, as time can change opinions. But it’s definitely safe to say that Carey Price will forever be in the conversation for greatest netminder to compete for the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.

 

 

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