The Best NHL Goaltenders Between the Lockouts

A number of goalies distinguished themselves during the seven years in between Gary Bettman's 2nd and 3rd lockouts. Let's take a look at the best 30 of them using a fancystat, Saves Above Replacement (SvAR).

The 2012-13 NHL lockout did allow some of us to focus on some bigger projects, and in the downtime I was able to go through and sort through the era that started off branding itself as the "New NHL" but by the end became a similarly low scoring, low penalty-called, though faster version of the league we saw in between 1995-2004. The first thing that was noticeable was that the first two seasons after the NHL lockout saw tremendous disparity in save percentages league wide. While I tried to adjust for this by having a floating measuring stick (replacement level save percentage), I couldn't help but notice that a lot of the 'best' seasons by my metric happened in 2005-07.

My measurement, saves above replacement, calculates the 'added' saves a goalie made over the average goalie who appeared in less than 25 games that year. I then adjusted for the splits between even strength situations and special teams situations to a set standard based on the split in time on ice between the two situations in 2011-12 (82.91% at even strength, 17.09% on special teams).

I've got some other stats here that I used as well, so here's a rundown:

  • Saves Above Replacement (SvAR): Described above, and adjust to reflect the time on ice at even strength and on special teams.
  • 3000 Minute Seasons (3000M): Simply how many seasons, based on playing 3000 minutes, a player played during this time period. Why 3000? That's 50 full 60 minute games, just over 60% of an 82 game schedule. I figure that's a sufficient sample size to count as a season as a starting goalie.
  • AR/1200: 1200 saves is the average amount of saves faced in 3000 minutes of play. Split between even strength and special teams, this is 995 Even Strength Shots and 205 Special Teams Shots. This number is used to give everyone the same amount of shots... essentially it's just a utilization each save percentage measurement.
  • AR/3000M: Simply the rate of Saves Above Replacement for every 3000 Minute Season. This tends to reward goalies who face more shots, as opposed to the AR/1200 metric which gives everyone the same shot volume (and splits).
  • ESSv%, STSv%: Simply the goaltender's Sv% for even strength and special teams situations during their career (between the lockouts only). /

As I said, the large volume of high scores in the years immediately following the lockout should be adjusted for at some point. Of the 30 goalies provided here, 11 of them had their best season in 2006-07. 2009-10 was the worst season for posting a career best, with only 2 of the 30 goalies doing so during that Olympic year (which might partly explain why 2006-07 was more prolific than 2005-06 as well). Also of note, I included playoff numbers, combining regular seasons with the playoffs that followed. Why? Quite simply, the bigger the sample, the better.

Enough explanations, here's the list:

Top 30 NHL Goaltenders from 2005-12
Goalie YOB Nat. SvAR 3000M ESSv% STSv% AR/1200 AR/3000M High SvAR Best Year
Roberto Luongo 1979 CAN 262.3 10.2 93.0 88.4 23.2 25.7 55.0 2006-07
Henrik Lundqvist 1982 SWE 237.5 10.3 92.8 89.4 23.6 23.0 47.5 2006-07
Tim Thomas 1974 USA 231.4 8.2 93.1 89.2 26.3 28.1 67.3 2010-11
Tomas Vokoun 1976 CZE 221.3 7.8 93.0 88.6 24.5 28.4 55.6 2005-06
Miikka Kiprusoff 1976 FIN 208.0 10.5 92.4 87.9 16.9 19.7 59.3 2005-06
Ryan Miller 1980 USA 193.7 9.6 92.4 88.6 18.2 20.2 49.6 2006-07
Martin Brodeur 1972 CAN 174.5 10.1 92.3 88.0 12.0 17.3 47.3 2006-07
Ilya Bryzgalov 1980 RUS 159.8 8.1 92.4 88.0 16.7 19.8 35.7 2007-08
Kari Lehtonen 1983 FIN 149.3 6.6 92.5 87.4 16.9 22.6 37.0 2006-07
Marc-Andre Fleury 1984 CAN 133.0 9.4 91.8 87.8 10.8 14.2 34.6 2007-08
Jean-Sebastien Giguere 1977 CAN 132.3 6.5 92.5 87.3 16.1 20.2 40.5 2006-07
Cam Ward 1984 CAN 130.7 8.7 91.9 88.4 12.2 15.0 32.3 2008-09
Nicklas Backstrom 1978 FIN 122.8 6.5 92.5 88.9 18.0 19.0 28.4 2008-09
Evgeni Nabokov 1975 RUS 118.9 7.7 92.0 87.5 13.0 15.5 29.2 2006-07
Pekka Rinne 1982 FIN 110.2 5.3 92.9 87.9 17.3 20.7 34.9 2010-11
Jonas Hiller 1982 SUI 109.3 4.9 92.8 88.8 19.1 22.2 41.8 2008-09
Craig Anderson 1981 USA 106.0 5.2 92.4 88.8 16.6 20.2 29.1 2009-10
Marty Turco 1975 CAN 101.4 7.5 91.8 86.1 7.6 13.5 34.7 2006-07
Dwayne Roloson 1969 CAN 95.4 7.6 91.6 88.5 9.6 12.6 30.2 2008-09
Carey Price 1987 CAN 93.9 5.8 92.3 88.8 13.6 16.2 33.1 2010-11
Jaroslav Halak 1985 SVK 88.3 4.3 92.6 88.9 19.3 20.4 29.7 2009-10
Cristobal Huet 1975 FRA 87.5 4.5 92.2 89.4 19.6 19.4 38.5 2005-06
Dominik Hasek 1965 CZE 84.7 3.2 93.3 86.8 28.3 26.4 41.1 2006-07
Jonathan Quick 1986 USA 84.0 5.5 92.4 89.5 15.6 15.2 45.4 2011-12
Mike Smith 1982 CAN 83.9 4.7 92.3 89.2 16.9 17.8 53.0 2011-12
Martin Biron 1977 CAN 76.5 4.6 91.8 88.4 11.4 16.5 34.8 2007-08
Jose Theodore 1976 CAN 69.9 6.5 91.4 87.1 5.4 10.8 20.5 2011-12
Chris Mason 1976 CAN 67.6 5.4 91.6 86.4 5.9 12.5 27.6 2008-09
Rick DiPietro 1981 USA 63.9 4.6 91.5 86.7 7.6 13.9 41.7 2006-07
Ray Emery 1982 CAN 63.0 4.5 91.8 86.8 9.2 14.1 39.3 2006-07

As you can see, the list gets a little thin after Quick and Smith, though it does show that Rick DiPietro was once a pretty good goaltender before the injuries have made him a terrifying well below replacement level mess the past four seasons. I provided the year of births to give you an idea of goaltender's peaks, and how it might apply for Carey Price going forward. He's the youngest goaltender on this list at 20th overall, and one can see with players like Pekka Rinne who have a similar amount of minutes played but are five years older what kind of effect these upcoming years could have on Price's stature. Although, it should be noted that Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury are three years older than Price and they posted their best seasons 3 and 4 years ago, respectively, so no guarantees.

While Tim Thomas' 2010-11 season is the pinnacle of this era, Tomas Vokoun put up that +55.6 season in a year he got injured right before the playoffs, while Thomas went all the way to the Stanley Cup in his top year. Tomas Vokoun has been a heck of a goaltender during this phase, and unfortunately has only had one playoff opportunity, when Nashville tanked in 2007 after acquiring Peter Forsberg. Vokoun leads all goalies in the AR/3000M metric, while ranked 3rd behind Hasek and Thomas in the AR/1200 one.

Vokoun has had a slight decline in recent years, but is still outperforming Marc-Andre Fleury in the past couple of seasons. Fleury had a couple of good seasons in the first half of this era, nothing overly special, and has been pretty bad for three years straight now.

Miikka Kirpsuoff, Martin Brodeur, and J.S. Giguere have all gone from elite to pedestrian over the course of the time period. That doesn't bode too well for Luongo in a couple of years, although there are exceptions such as Thomas (and to a lesser degree, Vokoun). Kiprusoff actually had a solid season last year, and Brodeur of course had his strong playoff run (and lasted near the top longer than Kipper and Giggy did).

Hasek ended his career on probably the two most dominant teams at the time, the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings, which probably helped him a great deal, but that guy was still quite special when he was healthy even though he was over 40 the entire time. People in Ottawa will probably always curse the 2006 Olympics for ending his short career there.

It's funny how the three defining Canadiens goaltenders of that era ended up lumped one right after the other on this list. I believe that Montreal tied with Anaheim, Chicago and Florida for having the most goalies on this list during this time period with four. Montreal of course had Price, Halak, Huet and Theodore; Florida had Luongo, Vokoun, Anderson and Theodore; Anaheim had Bryzgalov, Giguere, Hiller and Emery; while Chicago had Anderson, Turco, Huet, and Emery (though none of them during their best years).

Fellow ex-Blackhawk Nikolai Khabibulin, who earned a LOT of money from 2005-12, ranked 31st on the list with 60.7 SvAR. Chicago did a lot of things right in this time period but goaltending wasn't even close to being one of them.

And one final note, it's absolutely insane to think Roberto Luongo didn't win a single Vezina Trophy during this time period. He played most of it in a high profile market, he was consistently at or near the top in the statistical categories, and his team's made the playoffs five of the seven years. But he's probably not going to win the thing, and the five goalies that did all follow him in the rankings (Vokoun being the other non-Vezina winner in the top 7). Luongo is probably the best non-Brodeur candidate for the Hall of Fame up there, but he hasn't won any NHL hardware to put him in there other than a single Jennings Trophy. Honestly, I think Brodeur owes Luongo two of his Vezinas.

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