I thought I’d try something a little different today.
Instead of the usual serious long reads I do, I thought I’d tap into the more blog style essence of the site and write something short, sweet and fun.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of goalies. As a kid I was always intrigued by the one guy on the ice who wore different equipment from all the others, and how he always carried a big paddle that make him look like a sword-swinging knight in leather armour.
Much like current Canucks netminding prospect Thatcher Demko, my intro to goaltending came from watching Dan Cloutier. Cloutier might be more known for his lowest moments than his highest now, but to a little kid growing up in Vancouver, he was the original reason that I wanted to be a goalie.
After Cloutier, it was Alex Auld. And then, before I played my first ever season of organized hockey, then Canucks’ GM Dave Nonis pulled off the trade that would solidify my dream of playing in net.
Today the goaltending position has never been more stacked, with some of the future greatest netminders of all-time making a name for themself all in the same era. So today, I’m going to talk about my five favourite goalies in the NHL today and what I like best about them.
This list is entirely subjective, so naturally I hope you take it very personally when your favourite isn’t included and leave me an angry comment about it. This also isn’t a power rankings list because, much like a parent with multiple children, I love (mostly) all goalies equally. But a select few rise above either due to their talent, importance or simply their personality on and off the ice.
Honourable Mentions: Everybody else (except Jonathan Quick)
It was hard to leave some great names like Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Miller off the list, but there was only room for five, so to the honourables list they go.
Now for the question you’re probably asking; why not Quick? While there’s no doubt he’s a talented keeper, he’s also the Brad Marchand of goalies. It’s kind of impressive how many cheap shots he gets away with against screening players, or how many times he’s straight up sucker punched opponents and not gotten a penalty for it. But I’m the kind of fan who likes good clean hockey, and Jonathan Quick represents the opposite of that. At least Hextall could score.
Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets)
It’s not often that you call a two-time/defending winner of the Vezina Trophy underrated, and yet here we are. Sergei Bobrovsky has been a rock in the Blue Jackets net for the last six years, and plays an aggressive speedy style that turns every save into highlight reel material. The 29 year-old Russian has yet to get over the playoff series win hump, but with the team in front of him being stronger than ever, I’m willing to bet that streak ends soon.
But what makes Bobrovsky’s success all the more impressive is the fact that he went undrafted. Dreams can come true, kids.
Martin Jones (San Jose Sharks)Embed from Getty Images
Thanks to being a North Vancouver native, along with his short but stellar time anchoring the crease for the local San Jose Sharks, Martin Jones has the distinction of being the only player I’ve ever put on the back of an NHL jersey. Jones got his first taste of NHL success as a member of the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, where he earned his first Stanley Cup ring backing up for Jonathan Quick before a couple trades moved him to Northern California in 2015.
He isn’t the flashiest goaltender in the league, but he’s given San Jose the most consistently solid goaltending the franchise has ever had. He was even able to get the Sharks to the Cup Final in first season in 2016, something no netminder in San Jose history had done previously.
The Sharks made the smart move of resigning the 28 year-old to a six-year contract extension in July, and as long as Jones is here, the Bay Area will have a shot at hosting its’ first Stanley Cup parade.
Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
There’s arguably no goalie who’s more universally loved than Henrik Lundqvist. He’s amazingly worked his way up from a 7th round pick in 2000 to become one of the best players in the long, rich history of the Rangers and the NHL. His consistent play, cool personality and rugged good looks make even fans of the Rangers’ biggest rivals want to see Lundqvist lift Lord Stanley’s Mug someday.
While he doesn’t have his name on the Cup yet, he does have an Olympic gold medal on his resume and 430 NHL victories, the second most among active goalies. But with New York in the midst of a rebuild, let’s all hope that either they finish it quickly or move Lundqvist to a contender, because at 36 years old, he’s doesn’t have a lot of chances left.
Oh, and did I mention he plays guitar?
Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators)Embed from Getty Images
Yet another late draft pick, Pekka Rinne went from a 2004 8th rounder to the face of the Nashville Predators franchise. Rinne first came onto my radar during the 2011 playoffs, when he and the Preds pushed the Canucks to six games during the second round. It was clear to me then that he’d end up as one of the top goalies in the league, but it still surprised me just how dominant he became.
Even though Rinne struggled in his first taste of Stanley Cup Final action last season, he came out of the experience a stronger goalie than ever, having notched 40 wins for the Predators this year. His game is one that focuses on his athleticism and cat-like reflexes, making him one of the league’s most thrilling cage keepers. And with Nashville poised to make another run at the Cup, Rinne might be entertaining us all until mid-June.
Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers)
Finally we get to the man himself, my goaltending idol.
Someday I plan on writing a more in-depth story of Luongo’s time as a Canuck and what he meant to me personally. But for now, I’ll just keep it simple; Roberto Luongo is not only the greatest goaltender in Canucks/Panthers history, but one of the greatest the game has ever seen.
Roberto has come a long way since he went 4th overall at the 1997 NHL Draft, both as a netminder and a person. When he came to the Canucks in 2006 he was a shy young goalie who loved to play out of his crease. While new goalie coaching would turn Luongo into a more positional keeper, it was his transformation into a team leader and Twitter comedian that’s made him one of the NHL’s most beloved competitors.
His time chasing a Stanley Cup with the Canucks might be over, but as he and the Panthers push for a playoff spot I sure hope he gets one more crack at the title before he decides to hang up his skates. *starts Luuuu chant*
Thanks for reading! Who are your favourite goalies to watch? Leave a comment below!