2016 was a year of incredible hockey, but now that it is coming to an end let’s take a look at the top ten goaltenders of 2016. This list will take into account the accomplishments, statistics, and performance of goaltenders from January 1 to now.
Notable Omission: Carey Price
This was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. Price’s 2016 statistics have taken place just in this new season and in that time he is 18-4-2 with a .936 save percentage and a 1.87 GAA. All this while leading the Habs to the top spot in the Atlantic Division. Despite this, he simply has not played enough games to crack the list.
Number 10: Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets)
The reason why I put Bobrovsky on this list is because he has played more games than Price, and other than Dubnyk is probably having the best start to the 2016/17 season. He is 19-5-2 this season with a .932 save percentage and 1.92 GAA. Another reason why he is on the list is because he propelled the underrated Blue Jackets to the fourth best record in the entire league. This was something that was not expected from this Blue Jackets team.
Number 9: Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins)
Rask has been a very consistent goaltender and for that reason, he makes this list. The Bruins just missed the playoffs last season and if it weren’t for an illness that caused him to miss the final game of the year, Rask could have been a playoff goaltender. This season, Rask has not been blessed with a strong defensive core as guys like Morrow, Krug and both Millers have struggled defensively. Despite that, Rask has a 16-6-3 start to this season and a 33-19-8 record for the entirety of 2016. Those records ensure Rask a spot in the top ten.
Number 8: Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers)
At age 37, Bobby Lou is still one of the best goaltenders our league has to offer. With his age, it won’t be long before Luongo calls it a career, but he is still finding a way to make crazy saves and put numbers in the win column. His twitter account is deserving of a spot on this list alone. However, Luongo’s beginning to 2016 was remarkable. He led the young Panthers to the top spot in the Atlantic Division to end last season. Now, this season has not been a bright spot in Luongo’s career as he’s posted an 11-9-3 record, and his team finds themselves seven points out of a playoff spot. Nevertheless, his 30-17-6 record, with a .918 save percentage and 2.49 GAA is deserving of the number eight spot on this list. You can’t deny that the man who is tied for sixth all-time in wins is still a top goalie in this league.
Number 7: Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators)
Rinne may not be at the Vezina candidate and 41-win level where he was back in the 2014/15 campaign, but he still is one of the most elite goaltenders the NHL has to offer. In the entirety of 2016, Rinne has posted a 32-18-8 record in regular season action, a second-round appearance in the playoffs, a .913 save percentage and a 2.47 GAA. You know exactly what you’re going to get from Rinne each and every game and that is why he rarely struggles in net. He has not missed an extended period of time due to injury, part of the reason why he has suited up 73 games so far this year. Rinne always gives you a chance and his success with the Predators this year is why he is ranked number seven.
Number 6: Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
Lundqvist is the definition of excellence within NHL goaltending over the past decade. Every year he makes the Rangers a contender, but as each season passes over, the 34-year-old is missing his opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. But don’t let that take away from the fantastic year that Lundqvist has had. Let’s not look at his playoff performance because that is something that the Rangers would like to forget about, but his regular season statistics are astounding.
33-19-5, .919 save percentage, and a 2.42 goals against. Those are statistics worthy of a spot in the top ten. A reason why he isn’t higher is because he simply is not a top five goaltender anymore. He is still a goaltender that can win a title, and that is the reason why the Rangers have been around the top of the Metropolitan for the past six years. That is a fact that has really been overlooked by the hockey community.
Meanwhile, Lundqvist has returned from his scary collision with Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin. Good news for Rangers fans who hope to keep pace with the Metropolitan Division, which has been by far the best division in the NHL.
Number 5: Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Bishop squeaks into the top five because of his nomination for the Vezina trophy earlier this year. From January 1 until the end of the 2016 season in April, Bishop posted a 20-9-1 record. He was very successful in the playoffs, easily cruising to the conference finals with an 8-2 record. But an unfortunate injury in game one against the Penguins forced him out of action. It is easy to argue that if Bishop had been healthy, they may have been in a second straight Stanley Cup finals appearance.
So you may be thinking, with those numbers and accolades why isn’t Bishop higher up on this list? That’s because his start to the new season has not exactly gone how he planned. 9-10-2, with a .907% and 2.79 GAA.
Bishop has the potential to become one of the top three goaltenders in this league. He is in a contract year and based off of that, he is guaranteed to bounce back eventually.
Number 4: Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild)
The story of Devan Dubnyk still surprises me to this day. The fact that this guy went from playing 21 games over a two-year total from 2013-15 to all of a sudden being one of the top five goaltenders in this league is certainly a Cinderella story.
Dubnyk is having the best start to a season in his career, posting a 16-6-3 record, with an amazing .948 percent and a 1.55 GAA. Aside from wins, his statistics are top in the league and he is a definite top three goaltender for the start of this season. These statistics, combined with the 2016 part of the 2015/16 campaign, gave me no option than to rank him at number four. 32 regular season wins, a .930 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA are crazy numbers. Add the playoff berth to his résumé, and Dubnyk has without a doubt had one of the best years in recent memory.
Any argument about his lack of playoff success should be ignored because he had a team who was in the bottom half of the league in scoring and in powerplay percentage. Without Dubnyk, that Minnesota Wild team would have a lot more struggles.
Number 3: Matt Murray (Pittsburgh Penguins)
There is so much to be said about this guy. A 22-year-old, rookie who made his debut in late 2015, and took the league by storm. Murray started off his year in 2016 with a 7-1-0 record, proving his spot as a legitimate back-up in the league. However, the concussion that Marc-Andre Fleury had to deal with allowed Murray to pounce on the opportunity. He ran away with that opportunity, and led his Penguins team to a Stanley Cup victory, becoming the first rookie goaltender to win the Cup since Antti Niemi.
It is incredible how little this guy loses. This season, Murray has a 13-2-1 record with a .938 save percentage and a 1.85 GAA in a shared role with Fleury. With a year that Murray had and the statistics that he has earned, it would be easy to argue that he deserves number one on this list, but the fact is that he simply has not played enough games. When we have seen Murray, he has shown us excellence, but his starts have been limited due to Fleury’s presence on the team. You have to figure that if the Penguins can deal Fleury at the deadline, Murray can turn into an elite talent and a future goaltending superstar.
Number 2: Martin Jones (San Jose Sharks)
When you think of elite goaltenders, Martin Jones probably doesn’t jump to mind. But 2016 was a remarkable year for Martin Jones, who finally proved to the league that he is a quality starting goaltender.
Jones is tied for the league lead in regular season wins for the entirety of 2016 with 38. A .921 save percentage and a 2.09 goals against average is among the best in the league. Jone,s in his first full year as a starter, posted amazing numbers that can only be beaten by the number one goaltender on the list.
Jones also lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup finals, a place that had forever eluded the franchise. Jones was finally the solid goaltender that the team needed to get to the final. Unfortunately for the team, they ran into a scorching hot Penguins team. Nevertheless, Jones posted almost similar statistics as Murray did in the playoffs, and the only reason why Jones is ranked higher than Murray is the number of games played. Jones was as consistent as Murray except over a larger period of time and unlike Murray, Jones is the bona fide number one in San Jose.
Number 1: Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals)
Without a doubt, Braden Holtby was the number one goaltender in 2016. A Vezina Trophy, Presidents’ Trophy, and tied for the most amount of wins throughout the year is a feat that no other goaltender can match. During the latter half of the 2015/16 campaign, Holtby had a 24-5-6 record and with him in goal, the Capitals were almost unbeatable. The only thing that is overshadowing Holtby’s 2016 was the disappointment in the playoffs.
The Capitals were the favorites to win the cup, but they could not get past the Pittsburgh Penguins. The second round elimination put a hamper on the Capitals’ hype, and many looked at Holtby for not performing well enough. The fact is that he had a .923 save percentage and a 2.08 goals against average. These statistics are hard to beat.
As for Holtby’s 2016/17 campaign, he is 14-7-3 with fantastic save and goals against averages. The Capitals are once again a very strong team, but the problem is that they are in the strongest division in the league. Holtby continues to be an elite goaltender throughout this season and there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue his dominance in 2017. Watch out for this Capitals team, and especially for 2016’s best goaltender, Braden Holtby.
Would you change anything in my list? Who would you leave out? Who would you add? Let us know in the comments below!
Statistics recorded on December 22, 2016.