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Naming Names: Who are the elite, the average and the replacement-level goalies?

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It’s time to get specific about NHL goalies.

2016 NHL Awards - Press Room Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Judging goalies is really hard, and my suggestion is you don’t try unless you’re willing to look foolish a lot. I was not a believer in John Gibson at the time Frederik Andersen was traded to the Leafs. I thought he was AHL-ish in the World Cup of Hockey, and I continued to doubt him for a time.

I was really wrong on that.

I did totally believe in Andersen, which is a consolation. The Ducks made the right choice for them, and the Leafs made an excellent trade. When does that ever happen?

One reason it’s hard to judge goalies is that the information from the AHL or junior leagues is terrible. All-Situations Save % is so swamped in team effects that when you’re trying to make a fine measure, you’re using a ruler printed on elastic to do it with. Not only that, the entire leagues themselves vary much more widely than does the NHL, so you don’t necessarily get similar quality of shots faced across teams.

Once goalies get in the NHL, life is easier on armchair analysts. You don’t have to scout every goalie visually for hours to form an impression, and frankly, knowing what to look for in doing that is a skill few people have. “He looks calm” is the level you get on television, and I’ve spent years trying to understand the position, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. But in the NHL there is more information, better data, and lots of it.

When I looked at how many good goalies their are, with an eye to assessing this tandem idea that everyone is confidently talking about, I posted this:

Evolving Hockey

This gives you an idea of the spread of talent in each year, but it names no names. Let’s do that and see if the good, the bad and the replacement-level are who we think they are.

I went to Evolving Hockey and collected up the cumulative all-situations, score-adjusted results for all goalies who have at least 30 games played and 300 Fenwick against from the beginning of 2014 to November 12 of this year. For some goalies, it’s massive numbers of minutes, and for a few, it’s a little bit.

EH included a few stats on their goalie page that need to be defined first.

Sv%: this is the traditional percentage of Shots on Goal that don’t become goals measure
FSv%: Fenwick Save % is the percentage of all unblocked shots that either miss or are saved
xFSv%: Expected Fenwick Save %: Expected Goals models are built on Fenwick (unblocked shots), so this is the Fenwick Save % a league average goalie would have had under the Expected Goals model
dFSv%: This is the difference of the Fenwick Save % over Expected.
GSAx: This is the total goals saved over Expected.

Okay, onto the fun. It’s 95 players, so if you want a Google Sheets Format: You can view it here. You should be able to sort or filter that version, and this one won’t be useful on AMP pages at all.

Historical goalie performance 2013-present

Player Season Team GP Sv% FSv% xFSv% dFSv% GSAx
Player Season Team GP Sv% FSv% xFSv% dFSv% GSAx
John Gibson 13-20 ANA 250 92.08 94.41 93.49 0.92 95.43
Jordan Binnington 15-20 STL 47 92.29 94.44 93.66 0.78 13.14
Antti Raanta 13-20 CHI/NYR/ARI 159 91.97 94.32 93.72 0.6 36.04
Andrew Hammond 13-18 OTT/COL 56 92.25 94.38 93.82 0.57 12.12
Philipp Grubauer 13-20 WSH/COL 147 92.08 94.36 93.81 0.55 30.62
Juuse Saros 15-20 NSH 86 91.8 94.17 93.61 0.55 19.62
Alexandar Georgiev 17-20 NYR 50 91.53 93.85 93.29 0.55 12.24
Carey Price 13-20 MTL 328 92.13 94.21 93.74 0.47 63.04
Henrik Lundqvist 13-20 NYR 355 91.55 93.88 93.43 0.45 67.47
Frederik Andersen 13-20 ANA/TOR 331 91.69 94.13 93.68 0.45 62.43
Corey Crawford 13-20 CHI 304 91.94 93.96 93.52 0.44 52.45
Cam Talbot 13-20 NYR/EDM/PHI/CGY 293 91.44 93.79 93.37 0.42 49.48
Jaroslav Halak 13-20 STL/WSH/NYI/BOS 276 91.54 93.83 93.43 0.41 44.68
Braden Holtby 13-20 WSH 376 91.61 94.04 93.67 0.38 56.6
Jack Campbell 13-20 DAL/L.A 45 91.93 94.33 94 0.33 5.79
Ben Bishop 13-20 T.B/L.A/DAL 336 92.15 94.38 94.06 0.32 41.17
Anton Khudobin 13-20 CAR/ANA/BOS/DAL 174 91.56 93.98 93.68 0.31 20.73
Casey Desmith 17-19 PIT 50 91.74 93.82 93.51 0.31 5.87
Sergei Bobrovsky 13-20 CBJ/FLA 350 91.79 93.96 93.67 0.3 41.41
Marc-Andre Fleury 13-20 PIT/VGK 346 91.74 93.97 93.67 0.29 40.32
Ondrej Pavelec 13-18 WPG/NYR 167 90.75 93.33 93.05 0.27 17.64
Jonathan Quick 13-20 L.A 326 91.17 93.85 93.59 0.26 32.86
Thomas Greiss 13-20 ARI/PIT/NYI 216 91.62 93.93 93.66 0.26 22.12
Brian Elliott 13-20 STL/CGY/PHI 246 91.47 93.89 93.7 0.18 16.64
Ryan Miller 13-20 BUF/STL/VAN/ANA 262 91.65 93.87 93.7 0.17 18.37
Matt Murray 15-20 PIT 175 91.64 93.77 93.61 0.16 11.17
Steve Mason 13-18 PHI/WPG 237 91.68 93.89 93.75 0.15 13.5
Connor Hellebuyck 15-20 WPG 225 91.59 93.84 93.72 0.13 11.56
Laurent Brossoit 14-20 EDM/WPG 54 90.66 93.28 93.16 0.13 2.61
Cory Schneider 13-20 N.J 304 91.53 93.76 93.64 0.12 13.98
Eddie Lack 13-18 VAN/CAR/CGY/N.J 144 90.96 93.6 93.48 0.12 6.6
Semyon Varlamov 13-20 COL/NYI 309 91.69 93.98 93.87 0.11 15.04
Martin Jones 13-20 L.A/S.J 300 90.99 93.59 93.5 0.1 10.76
Kari Lehtonen 13-18 DAL 269 90.82 93.54 93.46 0.08 8.22
Mike Smith 13-20 ARI/CGY/EDM 318 91.13 93.7 93.65 0.06 7.91
Curtis McElhinney 13-20 CBJ/TOR/CAR/T.B 155 91.3 93.69 93.65 0.04 2.27
Mikko Koskinen 18-20 EDM 65 90.9 93.37 93.36 0.01 0.31
Roberto Luongo 13-19 FLA/VAN 297 91.76 93.9 93.91 -0.01 -1.46
Aaron Dell 16-20 S.J 80 90.79 93.42 93.44 -0.02 -0.5
Petr Mrazek 13-20 DET/PHI/CAR 233 91.1 93.54 93.57 -0.03 -3.02
Tuukka Rask 13-20 BOS 367 91.9 94.16 94.2 -0.04 -6
Evgeni Nabokov 13-15 NYI/T.B 51 90.11 92.86 92.94 -0.08 -1.41
Jacob Markstrom 13-20 FLA/VAN 208 91.06 93.51 93.58 -0.08 -6.52
Jonathan Bernier 13-20 TOR/ANA/COL/DET 273 91.29 93.87 93.96 -0.09 -9.97
Al Montoya 13-18 WPG/FLA/MTL/EDM 105 91.17 93.64 93.76 -0.12 -4.34
Darcy Kuemper 13-20 MIN/ARI/L.A 192 91.69 94.08 94.21 -0.13 -9.36
Robin Lehner 13-20 OTT/BUF/NYI/CHI 250 91.87 93.95 94.08 -0.13 -13.53
Jonas Hiller 13-16 ANA/CGY 128 90.78 93.73 93.87 -0.14 -7.14
Pekka Rinne 13-20 NSH 341 91.67 93.87 94.02 -0.14 -18.82
Michal Neuvirth 13-19 BUF/WSH/NYI/PHI 135 91.21 93.58 93.73 -0.15 -7.76
Karri Ramo 13-16 CGY 111 91.07 93.63 93.8 -0.16 -6.84
Carter Hutton 13-20 NSH/STL/BUF 197 91.4 93.78 93.94 -0.16 -11.3
James Reimer 13-20 TOR/S.J/FLA/CAR 241 91.28 93.63 93.8 -0.17 -16.32
Jimmy Howard 13-20 DET 292 91 93.38 93.56 -0.18 -20.32
Anders Nilsson 13-20 NYI/EDM/STL/BUF/VAN/OTT 146 90.89 93.46 93.65 -0.19 -11.96
David Rittich 16-20 CGY 83 90.96 93.52 93.74 -0.23 -7.02
Scott Darling 14-19 CHI/CAR 126 90.91 93.37 93.62 -0.24 -11.66
Justin Peters 13-17 CAR/WSH/ARI 36 90.77 93.53 93.81 -0.28 -4.05
Peter Budaj 13-19 MTL/L.A/T.B 96 90.79 93.54 93.83 -0.29 -9.56
Carter Hart 18-20 PHI 42 91.25 93.45 93.76 -0.31 -5.09
Cam Ward 13-19 CAR/CHI 270 90.51 93.2 93.53 -0.32 -34.05
Antti Niemi 13-19 S.J/DAL/FLA/MTL/PIT 251 90.68 93.43 93.76 -0.33 -31.76
Michael Hutchinson 13-20 WPG/FLA/TOR 117 90.66 93.17 93.53 -0.36 -15.24
Jake Allen 14-20 STL 254 91.07 93.47 93.83 -0.36 -33.62
Joonas Korpisalo 15-20 CBJ 104 90.55 93.13 93.51 -0.37 -15.36
Jhonas Enroth 13-17 BUF/DAL/L.A/TOR 100 90.88 93.5 93.88 -0.38 -15.74
Craig Anderson 13-20 OTT 306 91.13 93.52 93.92 -0.4 -53.32
Joni Ortio 13-16 CGY 37 90.06 93.18 93.59 -0.41 -5.49
Andrei Vasilevskiy 14-20 T.B 218 91.8 93.89 94.3 -0.41 -36.47
Louis Domingue 14-19 ARI/T.B 122 90.81 93.45 93.89 -0.44 -22.09
Chad Johnson 13-19 BOS/NYI/BUF/CGY/ANA/STL 182 90.67 93.35 93.79 -0.44 -29.49
Devan Dubnyk 13-20 EDM/NSH/ARI/MIN 362 91.64 94.04 94.49 -0.45 -64.2
Mackenzie Blackwood 18-20 N.J 34 91.2 93.7 94.16 -0.46 -6.24
Ben Scrivens 13-16 EDM/L.A/MTL 112 90.48 93.21 93.68 -0.46 -20.99
Calvin Pickard 14-19 COL/TOR/ARI/PHI 104 90.94 93.41 93.89 -0.48 -19.55
Mike Condon 15-19 MTL/OTT/PIT 129 90.59 93.29 93.79 -0.5 -24.8
Tristan Jarry 16-20 PIT 33 90.8 93.15 93.73 -0.57 -6.7
Anton Forsberg 14-18 CBJ/CHI 45 90.26 92.49 93.08 -0.59 -9.32
Keith Kinkaid 14-20 N.J/MTL 153 90.65 93.28 93.88 -0.59 -36.18
Alex Stalock 13-20 S.J/MIN 119 91 93.57 94.16 -0.6 -25.2
Tim Thomas 13-14 DAL/FLA 48 90.94 93.09 93.75 -0.66 -12.27
Malcolm Subban 14-20 BOS/VGK 49 90.37 92.95 93.66 -0.7 -13.02
Reto Berra 13-18 CGY/COL/FLA/ANA 76 90.6 93.26 93.96 -0.71 -18.3
Viktor Fasth 13-15 ANA/EDM 38 89.62 92.79 93.52 -0.73 -10.96
j-f Berube 15-18 NYI/CHI 34 89.95 92.47 93.28 -0.81 -9.67
Linus Ullmark 15-20 BUF 70 91.05 93.29 94.09 -0.81 -23.04
Ilya Bryzgalov 13-15 EDM/MIN/ANA 40 90.05 93.05 93.89 -0.83 -12.47
Ray Emery 13-15 PHI 59 90.03 92.9 93.78 -0.87 -18.24
Jeff Zatkoff 13-17 PIT/L.A 48 90.83 93.27 94.14 -0.88 -14.71
Jonas Gustavsson 13-17 DET/BOS/EDM 65 90.64 93.16 94.08 -0.92 -20.83
Martin Brodeur 13-15 N.J/STL 46 90.18 92.56 93.78 -1.22 -18.38
Anders Lindback 13-16 T.B/BUF/DAL/ARI 68 90.11 92.96 94.2 -1.24 -32.29
Garret Sparks 15-20 TOR/VGK 38 89.92 92.76 94.04 -1.28 -19.53
Marek Mazanec 13-17 NSH 31 89.79 92.99 94.34 -1.35 -15.82
Niklas Backstrom 13-16 MIN/CGY 44 89.41 92.29 94.01 -1.72 -26.73
Cumulative results for all goalies over 300 FA and 30 GP.

The table starts out sorted by Delta Fenwick Save %. The reason I use this measure is that it takes enough of the team defensive quality out of the picture to give you a better look at the goalie’s actual performance.

Save % can show you that Gibson is better than Niklas Backstrom without any help. It can show you that Marc-Andre Fleury is better than Mike Condon, too, but as you look at the players in the middle, you’ll start to see that more and more of them look better by one measure over the other to the point that the rankings lose their agreement almost totally. The closer you are to average, the more a team being generally good or bad, giving the goalie a better or worse chance to succeed shows up in simple Save %.

Look at Andrei Vasilevskiy, last year’s Vezina winner, and you see a goalie whose career is below league average. Some of that is that he was developed in the NHL and wasn’t immediately great, and he’s young yet, and will show better with more mature seasons under his belt. But like Ben Bishop before him, he’s helped immensely by the quality of the shots the Lightning allow. Sort the list by Expected Save %, and see who has an easy life.

The Leafs can’t have a goalie that needs an easy life. They need Freddie. And when it’s time to go backup shopping, like, oh, a few months back, they need a backup who can handle a team that is not built for defence, but manages to be okay enough at it.

You likely noticed one name near the top of this list at first. Andrew Hammond. This isn’t a perfect way to produce this dataset, but he’s a nice lesson in not falling for short bits of results over multiple seasons strung together. Remember when that lesson was Connor Carrick? Did we learn it? Maybe not, but Hammond has been played enough in the NHL on his hot streaks that his overall numbers are misleadingly high. It’s likely Garret Sparks is lower than he should be for that reason too, but not to an extreme degree, I don’t think.

I included the GSAx column just so you can see what a long career can mean in impact. Or, in Gibson’s case, how facing Carlyle hockey for years while being elite can make you the best man on this list by that measure. The Leafs are busy doing that for Andersen too. He’ll be jostling Gibson for the top spot in no time.

That’s actually a drawback of using the Delta Fenwick measure. It won’t tell you who can handle a heavy workload, and who can’t. Gibson, Andersen, Crawford and Halak haven’t needed as many games played to top that ranking as some of the others.

Two really interesting names here are Alex Stalock and Keith Kinkaid. I don’t understand why either one has lasted as long as they have, but sometimes a team plays the only goalie in the system who is available. If you help Stalock out a lot with shot quality, he can look league average, though. The Leafs were right, in hindsight, not to ask him to stay when they ended up with him in a trade.

Okay, now it’s your turn: go forth and argue about goalies.