No position or player can change a team more than a great goaltender (or a bad goaltender if that happens to be the case). So we are going to take a look at all 32 starting goalies in the NHL and rank them from Andrei Vasilevskiy in Tampa Bay to Carter Hutton in Arizona and everybody in between.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
It is almost unfair that a team this good also has the best goalie in the world. It makes them almost impossible to compete with and makes them a legitimate Stanley Cup contender every season. Since becoming the Lightning starter at the start of the 2016-17 season he has never had a single save percentage lower than .917, has been a Vezina Finalist four times and won it one time. He has also played every minute of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons for a back-to-back Stanley Cup winner, never needing a day off and never getting benched at any point during those playoff appearances.
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Hellebuyck has been masking a lot of defensive flaws in Winnipeg for years now and keeping them competitive. He has consistently been the league's leader in games played, minutes played, shots against, and saves for four years now and has not only been one of the league's most durable goalies, but he has also been one of the best performing netminders as well. During that time he has won a Vezina Trophy, been a finalist one other time, and finished in the top-four of the voting in another season. Give him a little bit of defensive help and the Jets would have major potential.
Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators
Saros has only been a full-time starter for two seasons, but he single-handedly carried Nashville to a playoff spot in his most recent season and probably should have received more Vezina Trophy consideration than he did. He has been consistently strong when given an opportunity throughout his career, and the Predators are going to need him to be dominant again this season if they are going to have any chance at making the playoffs in a tough Central Division.
Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
The key for Varlamov is simply staying healthy. When he is, he can be a top-tier goalie in the NHL. He has been healthy since joining the New York Islanders two years ago and has been a key cog in their consecutive runs to the Eastern Conference Final/semifinal round. What is fascinating about the Islanders' situation, though, is that they have a top-tier goalie and it is only a matter of time until he takes a back seat to Ilya Sorokin, another potential top-tier goalie.
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers
There is a lot of projection here, and some of it is based on potential, but Shesterkin looks like the real deal in the Rangers' net and a worthy heir apparent to Henrik Lundqvist. He has just 47 games of NHL experience under his belt, but he has a .922 save percentage in those games while not always playing behind a great defensive team. He is going to be a major part of the Rangers' rebuild and if they do get to where they want to be he is going to play a significant role in that.
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
His numbers have dropped a bit the past two seasons, but I am going to chalk that up to the qualify of the Ducks team around him. It is not good. At all. And he has had to face a significant workload on top of that. There is only so much he can do behind that team right now.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
This is a tough one. If we go by what we saw most recently when he took home the Vezina Trophy a year ago? Probably the top-three. But that performance was a huge step from what we saw from the past couple of years when he actually lost his starting job to Robin Lehner and Vegas appeared to be ready to move on from him after the 2019-20 season. He is still a freakish athlete and has a slam dunk Hall of Fame recipe. It is just a matter of how much high-level play he still has left. The Chicago Blackhawks are hoping it is at least one more season. Given the state of their defense and overall roster, they are going to need it.
Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche
Kuemper had some great seasons behind some lousy Arizona teams the past couple of years and now he is going to get a chance to play behind one of the best defenses in the NHL in Colorado. The Avalanche are hoping he can be the missing piece to their Stanley Cup-winning puzzle. His ability combined with Colorado's overall roster strength could lead to a career year for Kuemper.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
This is a tough one because when Price is at his best, as he was in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and his past couple of playoff appearances, he can still carry his team in a way that few other goalies can. We just do not see that level from him on a consistent basis anymore. He is starting the season taking a leave of absence to enter into the player's assistance program and it is not yet known when he will be back in the Canadiens' lineup, but it is expected he will return this season.
Philipp Grubauer, Seattle Kraken
Seattle made a significant investment in its goaltending position during its initial roster construction, snagging Grubauer and Chris Driedger. Grubauer has been a very good starter in Colorado for the past three years and has consistently posted strong numbers when given an opportunity to play, entering the season with a .920 career save percentage in his 215 career appearances. Going from Colorado to an expansion team is a pretty significant drop in talent, but the Kraken did spend a lot of money on its defense during the expansion draft process. This will be what gives them a chance this season.