With the start of the NHL season just weeks away, I figured I would share my top 10 goalies coming into the 2021 season.
10. Ilya Samsonov
The Capitals lost long time goaltender Braden Holtby to the Vancouver Canucks in the offseason. The move wasn't all that surprising given the salary cap issues Washington finds themselves in, but more importantly, the Caps believe they have found their goalie of the future in Samsonov. During his first NHL season the Russian showed glimpses of greatness, even earning a few votes for the Calder at seasons end. An off the ice injury ended the rookies campaign before the playoffs, but the Capitals expect Samsonov to be ready for the start of the season. Washington needs Samsonov to play well now that Henrik Lundqvist has announced that he will not be playing this season. Expect Samsonov to get a lot of starts in 2021 and to improve as the season progresses.
9. Braden Holtby
The 30-year old former Vezina winner will have something to prove in 2021. Last season in Washington was Holtbys worst season in his 10 year career. He allowed over 3 goals a game and couldn't get his save percentage over .900. In his first year in Vancouver, he will reunite with former teammate Nate Schmidt on the blue line and 21 year old phenom, Quinn Hughes. I think Braden has a bounce back season and carries the Canucks back into the playoffs.
8. Igor Shesterkin
I know the rookie only played 12 games for the Rangers last year, but he was dominant in those starts. Shesterkin held a record of 10-2 last season and posted a save percentage over .930. This year I think Igor takes the starting job from Georgiev and doesn't look back. With Lundqvist gone, the new king in New York will be Igor Shesterkin.
7. John Gibson
Some people are going to be upset that John Gibson isn't higher on the list, but I don't believe in the 27 year old net minder. I know that he posted great numbers last year even though he backed a terrible Anaheim Ducks team, but Gibson just doesn't do it for me. Maybe its his awful contract that pays him 6.5 million over the 7 years that keeps me from believing in the American. Whatever the reason, I expect more of the same from Gibson in 2021, he will post above average numbers and his team will finish at the bottom of the league and miss the playoffs.
6. Ben Bishop
When Ben Bishop is healthy he has shown throughout his career he can be a top goaltender in the entire league. The problem is Dallas isn't expecting the 2 time all-star until at least March. I struggled with keeping Bishop on this list. The 34 year old isn't getting any younger and its never a good sign when a big netminder, like Bishop, needs knee surgery. I could be wrong here, but I think Bishop has one more run left in him.
5. Carter Hart
Carter Hart will be the leagues best goaltender within the next five years. I really believe the 22 year old Flyer is the goaltender of the future(the not so distant future). The growth and maturity the netminder showed last season cannot be understated. In 43 games with the Flyers last season, Hart went 24-13 and posted a .915 save percentage. Although, the playoffs is where Hart really showed his potential. In his first taste of playoff action he went 9-5, allowing 2 goals a game and maintaining a .926 save percentage. The only thing holding the 3rd year player back is his performance on the road. Hart's performances on the road last season were abysmal, only winning 4 of his 18 game appearances. With the limited travel expected during the shortened 2021 season look to see Carter Hart cement himself as a top goalie in the NHL.
4. Tuuka Rask
Tuuka Rask had a great 2019-2020 season. Rask finished second in save percentage and shutouts and led the league in goals against average. The tough part for the Vezina trophy finalist was the postseason bubble. Just hours before the Bruins were scheduled to take on the Hurricanes in game 3, Boston surprisingly announced that Rask had opted out of the rest of the postseason. I cant blame Tuuka Rask for wanting to be with his family during a worldwide pandemic, but it certainly didn't do him any favors increasing his rank on this list.
3. Connor Hellebuyck
Coming of his first Vezina win, Connor Hellebuyck is the favorite to repeat for the leagues best goaltender trophy. The reason Hellebuyck sits 3rd on my list is because of my lack of trust in the Winnipeg Jets. I think the Jets are going to really struggle in the realigned Canadian division next season. I don't believe Winnipeg will make the playoffs, for that reason the 27 year old takes a step back in 2021.
2. Carey Price
The disrespect given to Carey Price is crazy to me. Are the numbers as great as they once were? No, but to act like you wouldn't want the former Hart winner on your team is insane. I will admit, last year I was thinking that Price was losing a step until I watched his performance in the playoffs. Did you see him against the Penguins? The Canadiens had no business beating the Penguins in a playoff series. The Penguins were clearly the better team, but Price single handedly carried the Habs into the next round. Price allowed under 2 goals a game in the series and held a save percentage over .950. I think the value in Carey Price really comes in key situations. At the end of the game when the other team needs a goal, there's nobody I want more in net than Carey Price.
1. Andrei Vasilevskiy
How could the number 1 goalie be anyone other than Andrei Vasilevskiy? In the last three seasons, the 26 year old Russian has led the league in wins, won a Vezina and won his first Stanley Cup. Nobody has been more consistent than Andrei during the regular season, and he seems to get stronger as his team gets further in the playoffs. Last year, Vasilevskiy posted a .930 save percentage and allowed less than 2 goals a game during the Lightning's Stanley Cup run. While a few blue line changes could cause Vasilevskiy to get off to a slow start, I have no doubts he will return to his Vezina winning form by the end of the season.