Top 15 Goalies in the NHL Heading into The 2023 Season

While the hierarchy of NHL netminders has been quite stable over the past few seasons, it felt like things were turned on their heads this year. Comparing my current list to the one I made last year, here are the goalies that dropped out of my top 15:

John Gibson: Previously #9

I’m a big fan of Gibson’s, but with his last three seasons being less than a 0.905 SV% I can’t justify him being here.

Ben Bishop: Previously #8

An all-time underrated netminder, Bishop’s unfortunate retirement due to injury is a sad one, but will hopefully bring some well-deserved attention to his career.

Semyon Varlamov: Previously #7

Being pushed to a backup role by another netminder that’s on this list, Varlamov had a down season. While he’s still one of the better backups in the league, I can’t keep him on the list purely because of his excellent prior season.

Philipp Grubauer: Previously #6

Grubauer was awful in Seattle this year. Like, -26.38 GSAA (7.33 GSAA worst than second last) bad. Hopefully, he’ll have a bounceback year this upcoming season and will once again contend for a spot on this list.

Tuukka Rask: Previously #5

Another retired, all-time underrated goalie, Rask unfortunately went out in smoke as his attempted return ended poorly.

Carey Price: Previously #4

Unfortunately will be forced to retire from injury, this isn’t how anyone wanted to see Price go. He still may continue to ty to play moving forward, but the doubt heading into the 2022–2023 season isn’t a good season for his injury rehab.

To preface, every mention of Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) is from Natural Stat Trick’s website.

#15: Sergei Bobrovsky (NEW)

2022 Stats: 54 Games, 39–7–3 Record, 0.913 SV%, 3 Shutouts

Bobrovsky is a netminder that would have been near the top of this list for many seasons during his time in Columbus, but his first two seasons as a Flordia Panther were incredibly disappointing.

This year the Panthers broke out as contenders after winning the first President’s Trophy in franchise history, During which Bobrovsky had 39 of their 58 wins. The Panthers had a 19–11–3 record in the games where Bobrovsky didn’t get credit on his record, which shows just how valuable he was for them.

While the fantastic defence in front of Bobrovsky certainly helped his box score numbers improve, his 8.62 Goals Saved Above Average ranked 16 among NHL netminders last season according to Natural Stat Trick. Despite being 34 years old Bobrovsky's athleticism was still on full display last season, bailing out the Panthers plenty of times by robbing high-danger chances.

#14: Ville Husso (NEW)

2022 Stats: 40 Games, 25–7–6 Record, 0.919 SV%, 2 Shutouts

After a horrific rookie season after being a part of the Blues organization for six years in 2021, Husso put together a fantastic 2022 season. He stole the starting job from Jordan Binnington with his extremely impressive play during the regular season, and despite losing it again with a terrible showcase in the playoffs Husso has shown a lot of potential moving forward.

He was dealt to Detroit this past offseason, and being out into a 1A 1B situation with Alex Nedeljkovic should put Husso in a position where he can compete for the full-time starting role once again.

He ranked 9th in GSAA in his breakout season, compared to Nedeljkovic’s ranking of 108th of 119 goalies, he should start the season with more games than his partner. Already being 27 years old, Husso will need to redeem himself from his short playoff stint quickly to earn the trust of the Red Wings.

#13: Marc-Andre Fleury (-10)

2022 Stats: 56 Games, 28–23–5, 0.908 SV%, 4 Shutouts

Despite being the starting goalie on an atrocious Blackhawks team, Fleury still posted above-average numbers before he was dealt to Minnesota. Fleury would’ve absolutely been given the benefit of the doubt on this list if he played as he did in Vegas the year prior during his time in Minnesota, but he just didn’t perform to expectation.

He still makes the top 15 due to him just coming off a fantastic Vezina-winning season the year prior but following the Cam Talbot trade it’s clear that the Wild are giving Fleury the reigns next season, and if he doesn’t perform better there’s a solid chance that he will drop out of this list.

He finished the year 40th in GSAA (2.05) which doesn’t help his case. Being 37 years old it wouldn’t be a surprise to any NHL fan if this is truly the beginning of the decline of a legendary career.

#12: Jake Oettinger (NEW)

2022 Stats: 48 Games, 30–15–1 Record, 0.914 SV%, 1 Shutout

I’ve been a big fan of Oettinger's since he was drafted by the Stars in the 2017 draft. Going into this season the question was how the Stars were going to deploy their netminders as they had Ben Bishop returning from injury, who I had at #8 last season, as well as the returning Anton Khudobin and new signing of Brayden Holtby left no room for Oettinger. After one game in the AHL Bishop was unfortunately forced to retire, and the declining play of Khdobin saw him only play 15 games across both the NHL and AHL last season.

The net was officially Oettingers, and he ran with it. Oettinger played well enough in the regular season to still be in the top 15, but lower on this list. The big thing that put him over was quite possibly having the best single series by a goalie since I started watching hockey. He carried the entire Dallas Stars roster on his back as he had a 0.954 SV% in their 7-game series versus the Calgary Flames.

He finished 14th in GSAA in the regular season (9.77), and 2nd in the entire playoffs despite only playing in the first round (11.90). for reference, Igor Shesterkin, who played 13 more games than Oettinger, finished with 11.91 GSAA. I expect Oettinger to break out into a star on Dallas next season, and I absolutely see a Vezina or two in his future.

#11: Robin Lehner (=)

2022 Stats: 44 Games, 23–17–2 Record, 0.907 SV%, 1 Shutout

Finding himself at the exact same position as he was last year in my ranking, Lehner probably won’t find him on the list next season. He is expected to miss the entirety of the 2023 season due to off-season hip surgery, which doesn’t help his already rocky injury history.

He suffered plenty of health issues during this past regular season, coming in and out of the lineup consistently due to multiple different injuries including the hip issue that will affect him next season. His numbers this past season were clearly affected by this, but he played pretty close to average with a -0.14 GSAA (52nd).

I still believe that Lehner is an extremely capable starting netminder, and despite missing next year I see him finding his way back on this list in the future following his return to the ice.

#10: Tristan Jarry (NEW)

2022 Stats: 58 games, 34–18–6 Record, 0.919 SV%, 4 Shutouts

Despite being the starter on the team that finished first in their division, Jarry didn’t even come close to making the top 15 last year. He was even underwhelming to Pens fans, and his performance in the 2021 playoffs seemed unredeemable at the time. Well, he redeemed himself pretty quickly. He would’ve played 60+ games if he didn’t get injured with six games remaining in the regular season.

It wasn’t a small injury, he broke his foot. Something that takes an extremely long time to recover from, especially as an NHL netminder. He didn’t play until game 7 of the Penguin's first-round series when he was noticeably not fully recovered. They would’ve beaten the Rangers if he was healthy, and I think he’s going to come back next season better than ever with that new chip on his shoulder.

Jarry finished 7th in GSAA (21.10) this season and was arguably the MVP of the Penguins for multiple stretches during the year. While I could see him taking a step back once again in the coming season, I would bet on him either improving or playing extremely similar to this past year, and I see him sticking around in the top 10 for a while.

#9: Darcy Kuemper: (+2)

2022 Stats: 57 games, 37–12–4, 0.921 SV%, 5 Shutouts

It was difficult to put Kuemper as low as #9 on this list, but his poor performance during the Avalanche’s cup run is what leaves him here. In his first and only season in Colorado Kuemper played as well as I expected after his numerous underrated seasons in Arizona. He managed to stay healthy during the regular season while playing extremely well, but when the playoffs rolled around an eye injury caused him to miss some games.

Kuemper played 16 of the 20 games on the Cup run and didn’t play well while getting there. He had the second lowest GSAA in the playoffs (-4.27). Not only does this show how fantastic this Avalanche team was, but it also brings an element of uncertainty toward his future play.

During the regular season, Kuemper was 4th in GSAA (25.19), and I’d expect him to play somewhere in the middle of those two numbers. Maybe he deserves to be higher, but he’ll need to prove himself to be as good in the playoffs as he is in the regular season to move up on my list.

#8: Thatcher Demko (+7)

2022 Stats: 64 Games, 33–22–7 Record, 0.915 SV%, 1 Shutout

Demko quickly emerged as a fantastic starter in the league following the departure of Jacob Markstrom, and in his second season as a full-time starter Demko has risen the second most on this list. I mentioned him being a Vezina candidate in the near future last year, and I’m even more sure of Demko being a part of that conversation for many years after this unbelievable season.

Similarly to the previous year, Demko’s boxscore stats may not look as impressive as his true play suggests. He was 10th in GSAA (14.91) and was arguably the only thing keeping the Canucks in the playoff hunt throughout many parts of the season. being just 26 years old, Demko has an extremely promising future as the Canucks starter for many years to come.

The only time that he has ever played for a good team he carried the Canucks past the Vegas Golden Knights to advance to the conference finals. With Vancouver looking to make their mark in the playoffs next season, Demko may have an Oettinger-esque series that results in an upset victory, don’t be surprised if he’s higher on this list again next year.

#7: Frederik Andersen (NEW)

2022 Stats: 52 games, 35–14–3 Record, 0.922 SV%, 4 Shutouts

After the worst season of his career in 2021, Freddy had a lot to prove in Carolina. He would’ve easily made the list for many years before a full season having a 0.895 SV%, but he bounced back immediately in his first season with Carolina. He finished 4th in Vezina voting this past season while backstopping the Hurricanes to the first seed in the Metropolitan division.

The real question is, how good was he really? Missing all of the playoff games the Hurricanes played, Antti Raanta stepped in and played phenomenally as he almost helped them reach the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2019. This understandably put doubt in how good Andersen was compared to how strong the defence in front of him was.

Andersen was still 6th in GSAA (22.07) this past season, which can be an easy way to debunk the theory of the defence in front of him carrying his numbers. I think next will be important for Freddy, he has a real chance to prove himself in a hopeful deep playoff run with Carolina.

#6: Ilya Sorokin (NEW)

2022 Stats: 52 Games, 26–18–8 Record, 0.925 SV%, 7 Shutouts

After a great rookie season as a backup to Semyon Varlamov in 2021, Sorokin didn't take long to steal the starter's crease with his fantastic play. He finished second in both shutouts and save percentage among goalies who played at least 10 games this season.

He certainly won the Islanders more games than they should have and considering that they’re expected to have a much better season this year, I’m scared to see if his numbers get even better. He’s already 27 years old due to his long KHL career but I expect him to play at this level for quite some time for the Isles.

His 29.78 GSAA was second in the NHL, which is extremely impressive considering that he wasn’t on a playoff team. Sorokin is a goalie that I’d expect to be in the Vezina conversation for many years to come.

#5: Jakob Markstrom (+8)

2022 Stats: 63 Games, 37-15–9 Record, 0.922 SV%, 9 Shutouts

Despite a poor debut season in Calgary last season, I left him on the list due to the extremely high ceiling that I knew he could reach. Leading the league in shutouts and finishing second in Vezina voting is the kind of ceiling I was talking about.

He also finished 2nd in GSAA (26.10) and backstopped the Flames to a first-place finish in the Pacific division. With their retooled team heading into this season, Markstrom may be able to prove himself to be this good consistently on a team that hopes to still be a force in the playoffs.

Despite me believing that he isn’t in the same tier as the four goalies above him, Markstrom’s placement at 5 was more than locked in by his horrific performance in the series against the Oilers. In that series, he had a -8.07 GSAA, which almost singlehandedly lost the Flames that series. If he plays well in a bounce-back playoff run next season, he may find himself higher o this list yet again.

#4 Connor Hellebuyck (-2)

2022 Stats: 66 games, 29–27–10 Record, 0.910 SV%, 4 Shutouts

I can understand why people may think this may be too high for Hellebuyck considering his numbers over the past two seasons, but I can’t rank him any lower just yet. I truly believe that it’s the workload catching up to him as well as having an extremely awful defensive team in front of him that’s affecting his numbers.

He’s played 111 of the Jet's past 138 games, which is an average of 66 games in a full season. Only 5 goalies played more than 60 games this past season, and Hellebuyck was 2nd of the bunch. He still finished with a 7.39 GSAA (18th). The Jets had the 4th worst penalty kill in the league, and that certainly played a factor.

If he had a backup that could play 20+ games a season, I’m sure we would see Hellebuyck's numbers look as good as we’ve seen in the past. Hopefully, he’ll be a big part of the Jets finding their way back into the playoffs this upcoming season.

#3: Juuse Saros (+7)

2022 Stats: 67 Games, 38–25–3 Record, 0.918 SV%, 4 Shutouts

On a Nashville team that was expected to miss the playoffs, Saros’ box score numbers may not look too impressive but his 22.93 GSAA, which ranked 5th in the entire league, speaks volumes to how well he had to play for the Predators to even sniff a playoff spot.

His consistently fantastic play landed him as a Vezina finalist, and by playing the most games in the league among other netminders puts him in a position of being worn out. Hopefully, Lankinen will come in and play 20+ games as the Predator's backup to give Saros some time to finally rest.

If I were to put money on it, Saros is my pick to win the Vezina next year. Nashville made some exciting additions in the offseason, and I see can them surprise some people next year with Saros putting up box score numbers closer to what they were in 2021.

#2: Igor Shesterkin (+12)

2022 Stats: 53 Games, 36–13–4 Record, 0.935 SV%, 6 Shutouts

If Shesterkin does what he did this year again next year, he’ll be number one on this list. Coming off of his first Vezina-winning season, Shesterkin has officially reached the potential a lot of people hyped him up to have coming out of the KHL.

Shesterkins 44.83 GSAA not only lead the league by an outstanding 15.05 (which would have finished 9th in the league on its own), but also had the highest GSAA in more than a decade. Tim Thomas had a 45.69 GSAA in the 2010–2011 season, playing in 4 more games than Shesterkin did this past season.

In my opinion, he should’ve won the Hart Trophy, but finishing third in the race as a goaltender is impressive enough as it is. It’s difficult to have him above who’s number one already, even if it’s one of, if not the best season I’ve ever seen by a goaltender.

#1: Andrei Vasilevskiy (=)

2022 Stats: 63 Games, 39–18–5 Record, 0.916 SV%, 2 Shutouts

What is there left to say about Vasy? While his numbers looked more human in the regular season this year, that may have something to do with the Lightning’s lessened depth as well as the extreme amount of games he played.

Over the past three playoffs, of which Vasilevskiy backstopped the Lightning to two Stanley cup rings and another finals appearance, Vasy has played 71 playoff games while posting a 0.928 SV% and a 26.85 GSAA, the highest among other netminders in the playoffs by 15.14 (Oettinger is second).

He’s a recent Conn Smythe Winner, two-time Stanley Cup Champion, recent Vezina winner and future Hall-of-Famer. While Shesterkin isn’t far behind him, for now, Vasy retains his spot at the top of the league among netminders.

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Jonas

Jonas

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Aspiring Sports Journalist who likes to talk about Hockey, especially the Pittsburgh Penguins.