Definitive Top 10 Goaltenders

In today’s blog entry, I’m going to give you a rundown on the top 10 goaltenders in NHL history. Since unveiling the first entry in our propaganda series, GOAT Goaltender, there has been much debate as to how they would rank below Dominik Hasek, along with the usual condemnation of his selection by a vocal group of individuals that don’t recognize the absolute dominance of Hasek, but we’ll ignore them and simply pray that they someday see the light.

Moving on to the top 10, here they are in order from one to ten…

  1. Dominik Hasek: The greatest of all time. Case closed. See here.
  2. Jacques Plante: Record 7 Vezina trophies and led the league in GAA 8 times, also a record.
  3. Patrick Roy: Won 3 Vezina trophies to go along with a record 3 Conn Smythe trophies.
  4. Glenn Hall: 3 Vezinas, 11 top 3 finishes in Wins & SO, and 10 top 3 finishes in GP & GAA.
  5. Terry Sawchuk:  All time Wins & SO leader for pre-Modern Era. Won 4 Vezina trophies.
  6. Martin Brodeur: All time leader in GP, Wins & SO. Won 4 Vezina trophies.
  7. Tony Esposito: 3 Vezinas, 7th all time in Wins, and carried Chicago through the 70’s.
  8. Bill Durnan: 6 Vezinas in only 7 seasons and never finished outside the top 3 in GAA or SO.
  9. Turk Broda: 10 top 3 finishes in Wins and 9  in GAA & SO. Won 2 Vezina trophies.
  10. Ken Dryden: 5 Vezinas & 6 Stanley Cups in only 8 seasons. All time leader in Win %.

There you have it. Most of the decisions were quite easy, though some are so close that I wouldn’t argue too much with similar lists having the order slightly different. As for goalies that didn’t make the cut, here are a few reasons why…

  • Greats that spent the majority of their career pre-1945  (Hainsworth, Thompson, Brimsek,  Benedict, Gardiner, Connell, etc.) were largely discounted due to the style of play at the time. The lone exception was Broda, who proved himself post-1945 as well.
  • Greats that didn’t consistently outperform others in the top 10 during their respective time period (Bower, Lumley, Belfour, Vanbiesbrouck, Giacomin, Vachon, etc.) were largely dismissed because of this.
  • Greats that were carried by an amazing team and had little-to-no presence at the top of key stats such as GAA, Save %, or SO (Fuhr, Smith, etc.) were not considered.
  • Greats that had amazing performances over short periods of time (Parent, Thomas, etc.) were discounted when compared to those having longer, more consistent careers of similar performance.
  • Very recent Vezina winners and nominees (Lundqvist, Miller, Kiprusoff, Luongo, etc.) still have much to prove before being considered.

As of now, this top 10 list has little to no chance of changing in the foreseeable future. Unless Brodeur starts winning more Vezinas or Thomas returns to do the same, this looks to be set in stone for a long time as no other active goaltenders are within reach of the top 10.