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Protecting the net is no worse than the second most important role in the NHL. Sure, goal scorers get all the glory. But teams won't win in hockey if they're letting up too many points. The sport is low-scoring by nature, which means every single goal counts. It's only right, then, that we update our ranking of the best NHL goalies right now.
Many hockey bettors might not think this is a super important analysis. They care more about who's going to win the Stanley Cup—about the performance of teams in general. But identifying the best NHL goalies in 2021 can mean a great deal when betting on hockey futures.
Sites like BetOnline and Bovada usually offer odds on who will win the NHL's MVP award, which is given out in the form of the Conn Smythe Trophy. Goalies are a part of that conversation. And while not every sportsbook provides lines for the Goalie of the Year hardware, determining who might win the Vezina Trophy is an exercise aided by taking stock of the league's top net-minders.
Ranking Best NHL Goalies in 2021
The criteria for our rankings will aim to be all-encompassing. We are looking at recent performances from the 2019-20 season and the current 2020-21 campaign. We're also heavily weighting advanced metrics like save percentage and goals saved above average. And finally, we'll be baking in a few subjective forecasts, as we attempt to predict the value of each goalie moving forward.
As usual, this goalie pyramid will begin in reverse order and works its way up. So strap in, folks. We'll be moving quickly.
10. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
A lot of people laughed when the Islanders switched to Semyon Varlamov between the posts. But no one's laughing anymore.
Varlamov has proved to be one of the most consistent netminders in the league this year. He ranks 11th in goals saved above average and 13th in overall save percentage. It sure looks like New York has found its stopper of the future.
9. Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames
Relative to expectations, Jacob Markstrom has underachieved this season. Of course, all this means is that he's ridiculously good instead of great.
Markstrom's save percentage is still hovering above 92 percent, and he currently places sixth in goals saved above average. A No. 9 ranking is probably his floor moving forward.
8. Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington's life is often made unnecessarily difficult by the sheer volume of saves he's tasked with making. He faces a ton of uncontested shots, which artificially deflates his save percentage.
Still, he continues to block nearly 92 percent of the pucks fired his way, and he remains inside the top eight of goals saved above average.
7. Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars
Some of the more granular metrics don't love Anton Khudobin. For instance, he's just 18th in goals saved above average. That alone will scare some people from putting him in the top 10.
Not us. He is posting a save percentage north of 92, and in recent weeks, the poor starts that have plagued him are basically a non-issue. His value looking ahead is higher than it is now.
6. Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes
Darcy. Kuemper is off to a cold start to begin 2021. Statistically, in fact, he profiles as one of the league's worst goalies. But we know better.
Kuemper is working off a 2020 season in which he notched a 92.8 save percentage and tallied one of the league's highest quality-start percentages. He remains the defensive anchor for the Coyotes and is going to be just fine.
5. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
Only five goalies have logged more ice time during the 2020-21 season than Andrei Vasilevskiy. At a time when load management is of the utmost priority, you might expect him to peter out.
Not only is Vasilevskiy turning in a save percentage of nearly 93, but his quality-start percentage of 75 is through the roof for someone who's seeing as much volume as himself.
4. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
The benefit of the doubt is being ingrained into Connor Hellebuyck's case. He's seen his save percentage dip a hair below 91 this year, and only one other net-minder on this list presently has fewer goalie point shares.
However, we can't ignore all he did last year when he ranked second in goals saved above average and set the Jets' franchise record for single-season shutouts. Oh, and he was also the winner of the 2019-20 Vezina Trophy. His current play might fall below his usual standards, but that only means the best has yet to come.
3. Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights
Limited availability this season has hampered Robin Lehner's statistical case, so we won't make that the focus here. It matters more that he still passes the eye test.
After holding a 92 save percentage following his trade to the Vegas Knights, he continues to defend the posts with his head on a swivel. There are only one, maybe two, more goalies you'd rather have going up an uncontested shot.
2. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Here we have another case of limited availability in 2021 to paint a fuzzy picture. Rest assured, though, plenty of analysts would declare Tuukka Rask the absolute best goalie, period.
Last season, Rask led the NHL in goals saved above average while posting a bonkers save percentage relative to the number of shots he faced. This year may not be going to plan, but he is still a one-man defense unto himself.
1. John Gibson, Anaheim Duckers
Too many are hesitant to admit the truth: John Gibson is the best goalie in the NHL.
Sure, he's battled inconsistency in the past. But he's absolutely dominant in the present. He currently leads the league in goalie point shares and is third in goals saved above average. Some have been waiting for a rise of this caliber, the kind in which he seizes the crown at his position.
And it looks like the wait is over.
Check out the below list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NHL betting: