Interesting list from Adrian Dater on VERSUS.com, which apparently still covers hockey in the offseason: The Top-10 Goalies in the NHL. Dater's list, with the usual helpings of insight and outrage:
1. Ryan Miller(notes), Buffalo Sabres
2. Ilya Bryzgalov(notes), Phoenix Coyotes
3. Martin Brodeur(notes), New Jersey Devils
4. Craig Anderson(notes), Colorado Avalanche
5. Roberto Luongo(notes), Vancouver Canucks
6. Niklas Backstrom(notes), Minnesota Wild
7. Tomas Vokoun(notes), Florida Panthers
8. Henrik Lundqvist(notes), New York Rangers
9. Miikka Kiprusoff(notes), Calgary Flames
10. Jimmy Howard(notes), Detroit Red Wings
Dater later (rhyme time!) added this footnote to the column:
Second-thought, tough omissions a week later: Could Jaroslav Halak(notes), Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) or Cam Ward(notes) be in the top 10? Arguably, yes. Ward might be the one guy I'd stick in there if I had a do-over on this column actually. His saves percentage was better (.916-.913) than Luongo's, for instance. And he's won a Cup and taken a team to a conference final since 2006. And yet, he wasn't brilliant last year, either. A tough call either way.
Yes, he won a Cup. Just like Fleury did with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not that it ever seems to matter for MAF.
Agree with the list? Disagree? We do both, while asking you: Who are your top-10 goalies in the NHL as of today?
Dater covers the Avalanche for the Denver Post, and acknowledges that might be the reason Craig Anderson is preposterously overrated on his list after one season of strong hockey. Maybe he just erased Steve Mason's(notes) name from last year's list and plugged in Anderson's.
Miller at No. 1 should be universally approved: He's always been fundamentally sound, but in the last two years has started winning games on his own like the great ones do. Dater's justification for Bryzgalov at No. 2:
Talk to a lot of hockey people, and they just love this guy. Yeah, he's a bit of a flake, but that's what goalies have to be to face 100-m.p.h. pieces of vulcanized rubber. He's huge in net, literally and figuratively. He should have been the starter for Russia in the Olympics.
Sorry, not buying it. The toughest thing to figure out about these goalie lists are which players are the beneficiaries of systems and talent around them, and which guys have to do the heavy lifting. In other words: Every debate that's ever raged about Marty Brodeur's place in history.
Bryzgalov put up his best career numbers last season while facing the lowest number of shots on average that he's faced as a Coyotes starter. Coach Dave Tippett and the defense didn't carry him to a Vezina Trophy nomination, but his accomplishments don't warrant second-best-keeper-in-the-league status. Yet.
Our Top 10, off the top of the noggin':
Vokoun has quietly put together a stellar little career with some pretty bad hockey teams. It's a shame that, at 34, he's not gotten a shot with a legit Cup contender in his career. And that his teammates assault him.
Halak and Anderson have to do more before they can earn this status. One year doesn't cut it for Anderson, and one god-like postseason for Halak doesn't cut it either. Same goes for Jimmy Howard. Just not comfortable putting any of them on this list yet; again, ask Steve Mason why.
We have a two-year sample for the guy and it's obvious he's turning into something special. Yes, the system helps and, yes, Shea Weber(notes) and Ryan Suter(notes) skating in front of him helps, too. But 14 shutouts in his last 103 starts is damn impressive; Brodeur has 14 in his last 106 starts, for example.
Would you find room for Marc-Andre Fleury on this list? We can sometimes be Fleury apologists here, because the dude takes way too much heat for a competent goalie with a ring. But he remains so inconsistent, in a way the other guys on this list aren't. (Outside of No. 10, that is.)
The two biggest questions, I think, when it comes to rankings like Dater's: How much do you weigh the impact of a defensive system in front of the goalie, and how much do you weigh the postseason, considering that some of these guys (like Vokoun) have yet to really prove themselves in the Stanley Cup tournament?
What's your top 10?