As we lead up to the beginning of the 2023–24 season, we’ve been breaking the depth charts at key positions for every NHL team to rank them from first to best. Last up in our series is hockey’s biggest wild card, goaltenders.
Without solid goaltending a team is going nowhere, just ask the 2022–23 Calgary Flames. To truly become a contender in the NHL, a team needs a solid duo between the pipes.
#1 Boston Bruins
The Bruins have two starting goaltenders between the pipes, something no other team in the NHL can say. Ullmark was outstanding in 2022–23 en route to a Vezina win behind 38.21 GSAx and a .938 save percentage. Even he doesn’t repeat last years historic season, he should still remain a top-10 goalie in the NHL.
Behind him they have Swayman who is a budding star and would be a starter on plenty of other teams coming off a season with a .920 save percentage across 37 games. Having him as a backup is a massive luxury for the Bruins and provides them with the best duo in the NHL by a wide margin.
#2 New York Islanders
Depth Chart: Ilya Sorokin, Semyon Varlamov
Despite playing behind such a dull team, Sorokin is a true star between the pipes. He’s played at a Vezina level in back to back seasons and an argument could be made that he’s the best goalie in the world right now. He led the NHL in 2022–23 with an absurd 51.36 GSAx.
Varlamov is the perfect veteran backup and provides the Islanders with a great option when Sorokin needs some rest. He’s posted a minimum .910 save percentage for four straight seasons now.
#3 Winnipeg Jets
Year after year Hellebuyck carries an average Jets roster to relevance and reaffirms himself as one of the very best goaltenders in the NHL. His 33.62 GSAx last year ranked fourth league wide as did his 30.11 GSAA. He’s the unquestioned MVP of the Jets.
The Jets also brought back former backup Brossoit this offseason who has been one of the league’s better backups over the last few years. Along with Hellebuyck, they form one of the best duos in the league.
#4 Nashville Predators
Saros is the last of a dying breed of true workhorse goalies. No goalie in the NHL has played more regular season games, faced more shots, or made more saves than him over the last two seasons. Across his 131 games he’s posted a 58.09 GSAx which ranks third league wide. A true superstar.
Lankinen is a capable backup as well coming off a solid .916 save percentage season in 2022–23. This ranking is all about Saros though.
#5 Dallas Stars
Not many goalies in the NHL can steal games like Oettinger can. Just ask any Flames fan. Oettinger followed up his historic 2021–22 playoffs with a real solid 2022–23 season that solidified him as an elite goalie. His 23.58 GSAA ranked seventh last season and his five shutouts were tied for second most.
Wedgewood meanwhile is a more than capable backup and has posted a save percentage over .910 for three straight seasons since coming to Dallas.
#6 New York Rangers
After his ridiculous 2021–22 season, Shesterkin followed it up with another strong season in 2022–23. His 27.84 GSAx ranked fifth in the NHL while his 37 wins were tied for third. He’s undoubtedly a top-three goalie in the world and the backbone of the Rangers.
What keeps the Rangers lower than the above teams is the shaky situation behind Shesterkin. While the top five teams all boast strong backups, the Rangers are relying on a 38-year-old Quick coming off the worst season of his career. Shesterkin has also never played 60 games in a season meaning Quick will be relied on quite a bit.
#7 Tampa Bay Lightning
Vasilevskiy will be out for a couple months but is fully expected back this season meaning the Lightning still boast one of the best goaltending situations in the NHL. When healthy he’s a top-five goalie. No one has more wins over the last eight years than him and he hasn’t posted a save percentage lower than .915 since 2016. The definition of consistency.
Like the Rangers though, the situation gets real iffy at backup as Johansson has been one of the league’s worst goalies the last couple of years and will be tasked with a starting role for two months.
#8 Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche took a gamble on Georgiev last year and it paid off in a big way as he tied for the league lead in wins with 40 and posted a solid .919 save percentage. He may not be an elite starter but last season proved he can produce like a top-10 goalie.
What carries the Avalanche up the rankings here is their solid depth with Francouz at backup, if he can get healthy. Health concerns aside, Francouz has been one of, if not the best backup goalie in the NHL the last couple of seasons when he’s not injured. The key now is to stay healthy once he returns.
#9 Vancouver Canucks
Depth Chart: Thatcher Demko, Casey DeSmith
The 2022–23 season was a disaster for Demko and the Canucks. In what should’ve been a rise to stardom as a top netminder in the league, Demko suffered a major injury and had a brutal season. The good news is he closed the year on a high note and is in line for a big bounceback in 2023–24 as one of the better starters in the league.
Adding veteran backup DeSmith is an upgrade on Spencer Martin and gives the Canucks a strong duo between the pipes.
#10 Minnesota Wild
Gustavsson was the NHL’s breakout star in net last season and goes into 2023–24 with the chance to establish himself as one of the top starters in the league. Among goalies with at least 35 games played last year his .931 save percentage ranked second league wide behind only Ullmark. He gives the Wild a really strong 1A in net.
It doesn’t hurt to have Fleury waiting in the wings as a 1B option either. He may not be as good as he once was, but he’s still an above-average backup capable of playing a lot of games.
#11 Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes 1A/1B duo has given them a solid foundation between the pipes for years but last year knocked them down a peg. Andersen experienced a rough injury-riddled season and ranked 46th league wide with a GSAx of just 2.59. The good news is he looked great in the playoffs when healthy and should bounce back to start status in 2023–24.
Raanta is a great option at backup finishing the season with a .910 save percentage but the issue with him has always been his ability to stay healthy.
#12 Calgary Flames
The Flames were one of the hardest teams to rank as no one knows which version of Markstrom will show up this season. The 2021–22 Vezina runner-up version or the 2022–23 replacement level one? I’d bet somewhere in the middle which places Markstrom as an above-average starter.
Likewise Vladar should bounce back from a dreadful 2022–23 season and once again be a solid backup. Overall this is a group that could rank at the bottom of the league or the top given the uncertainty. It’s also worth mentioning the wild card here in Dustin Wolf who could at any moment take over in Calgary .
#13 Toronto Maple Leafs
Samsonov was quietly one of the better starters in the NHL last season, finishing the year with a GSAx of 21.24 which was good for ninth in the league. The question mark around Samsonov though is his ability to handle a starters workload as he’s never played more than 44 games in a season.
At backup, the Leafs will go with promising youngster Woll. Although his sample size has been small he’s looked good in the NHL thus far. Whether he can handle full time backup duties is still up for debate though. Overall this is a solid but unproven duo.
#14 Vegas Golden Knights
Hill came out of nowhere last year to help guide the Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup. Now with a new contract under his belt, he’ll be tasked with proving it wasn’t a fluke. He’s never played more than 30 games in a season so there are major question marks around his ability as an NHL starter.
That said people forget just how good rookie Thompson looked last season before going down with a major injury. Across 37 games he posted a .915 save percentage and looked like the Knights goalie of the future. Both Hill and Thompson being unproven outside of last year prevents Vegas from ranking higher for now.
#15 New Jersey Devils
The Devils revamped goaltending duo of Vanacek and Schmid worked wonders last season as they formed a really solid duo in net. Vanacek finished the year tied for seventh for wins with 33 and ranked 14th league-wide with a GSAx of 13.28. His struggles in the playoffs are concerning though.
Schmid is the wild card here. Across his 18 regular season games he posted a .918 save percentage and then saved the day in the playoffs posting a .921 save percentage and two shutouts. Overall this is a strong duo with room to get even better.
#16 Washington Capitals
Darcy Kuemper has long been one of the more underrated goalies in the NHL and although he didn’t have a perfect 2022–23 season he remains a top-15 starter in the NHL. Last season he still finished 15th in the league with 13.21 GSAx and won 22 games for a poor Washington team.
The backup situation isn’t great as Lindgren really struggled last season with a .899 save percentage and -3.7 GSAx. Also worth noting that Kuemper has never started more than 60 games in a season.
#17 Ottawa Senators
The Senators went out and handed Korpisalo a giant contract this offseason and while it may be an overpay there’s no doubt it gives them a big upgrade in net. Korpisalo is coming off the best season of his career in 2022–23 ending the year with a GSAx of 10.18, good for 19th in the league. They’re betting on that being the norm now and not an outlier.
Forsberg is a decent backup option who’s posted a .912 save percentage across the past two seasons but how Korpisalo performs will determine where the Senators stand in net.
#18 Florida Panthers
The Panthers goaltending situation is a complete wildcard depending on which version of Bobrovsky shows up. Will it be the regular season version that posted a .901 save percentage and 3.07 GAA or the playoff version that saved 19.44 goals above expected in just 19 games?
Stolarz has a strong history as one of the league’s best backups but he’s never played more than 30 games in a season so the Panthers are fully relying on playoff Bobrovksy showing up this season which is far from a guarantee.
#19 Edmonton Oilers
It seemed like the Oilers finally had their starting goalie last year after handing Campbell a big five-year deal. He then proceeded to post a dreadful .888 save percentage and lose his starting position to rookie Skinner. Skinner came in and looked like a real solution in net, and then the playoffs happened where he was pulled four separate times.
Now the Oilers stare down an uncertain future between the pipes as neither Skinner nor Campbell have shown they can be true number ones just yet. There’s potential for a really solid duo here but we’ve yet to see it consistently which is why they rank here.
#20 Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes have a surprisingly strong duo in net. Vejmelka provided them with decent starting goaltending last year across his 52 starts and will look to continue that into the 2023–24 season. His 6.98 GSAx ranked 26th league wide last year, not bad considering the team he played behind.
At backup Ingram had perhaps an even better season after being plucked off waivers. Across his 27 games he posted a GSAx of 8.93 which ranked 21st league wide. Together the Coyotes have a good duo that has room to get even better.
#21 Philadelphia Flyers
We still don’t have a full read on what type of goalie Hart truly is. He’s shown flashes of being a true top 10 goalie but playing behind a poor Flyers team the past couple years has muddied the results. That said last season was a solid bounce-back for Hart with a .907 save percentage and 12.93 GSAx which ranked 16th in the NHL.
Sandstrom meanwhile really struggled last year for the Flyers with a -11.22 GSAx which ranked 96th among goalies. The Flyers goaltending completely relies on Hart building off his 2022–23 season.
#22 Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins showed full faith in Jarry this offseason by signing him to a long term deal. Jarry has always done well in the win column but his actual numbers have been a roller coaster. In his last four years he’s posted save percentages of .921, .909, .919 and finally .909 last year. If he can play as he did in 2021–22 when he posted 6.58 GSAx he can be a solid starter but he just hasn’t shown the consistency year to year to be considered an upper-half starting option.
At backup, Nedeljkovic is far removed from his Calder candidate season in 2020–21 and has posted -18 GSAx over the past two years. This is a shaky duo for a team that has Stanley Cup aspirations.
#23 Los Angeles Kings
Goaltending is a massive question mark in L.A. as the Kings added veteran Talbot to support Copley. Talbot struggled last season in Ottawa to the tune of a .898 save percentage and just 0.3 GSAx. The Kings are betting on a bounceback to his 2021–22 form but at 36 years old that’s far from certain.
The Kings really need Copley who had been a career AHLer before last year to build off his solid 2022–23 campaign where he posted a .903 save percentage and 5.78 GSAx across 37 games. Whether it’s Tablot or Copley in the starting role, both have serious question marks equalling a shaky situation in L.A.
#24 Seattle Kraken
Grubauer’s time in Seattle has been a rough go to say the least. He bounced back to a degree last season after a horrendous 2021–22 and followed it up by a strong playoff performance but he remains a bottom tier starter. The Kraken desperately need him to find his game again as there isn’t much depth behind him.
Backing him up is Daccord who has just 19 games of NHL experience with a .884 career save percentage. Not great. This goaltending setup completely relies on Grubauer.
#25 Buffalo Sabres
How will rookie Levi handle a full-time NHL role? That’s the major question in Buffalo right now. He’s got all the potential in the world but until he’s shown it across a full season the Sabress goaltending duo ranks near the bottom of the league due to the uncertainty.
Luukkonen struggled in his first full NHL season last year, posting a .892 save percentage and a dreadful -10.74 GSAx. If Levi can’t handle the starting job as a rookie and isn’t ready just yet, the Sabres could be in big trouble.
#26 St. Louis Blues
Binnington leading the Blues to a Stanley Cup seems like a distant memory at this point. Binnington has by all accounts been one of the worst starters in the NHL the last two seasons, posting a cumulative -16.88 GSAx across 98 games.
Hofer is the wild card here as he looked solid across his six NHL games last season and very likely could take over the starting role this season. That said he’s still incredibly unproven at the NHL level and isn’t a sure bet behind an already shaky starter.
#27 Anaheim Ducks
Gone are the days of Gibson standing on his head behind a weak Ducks roster. He’s struggled significantly the past couple of years and is past his prime at this point. Perhaps he can rebound with a revamped Ducks blueline, but that’s a big ask.
Dostal does provide some intriguing depth though as he’s one of the sports top NHL ready goaltending prospects and posted a respectable 3.53 GSAx across 19 games last season. Perhaps he will build off last season and start to take over the starting role but for now, he’s unproven still.
#28 Detroit Red Wings
Husso was supposed to be the Red Wings savior in net last season after signing in free agency but instead his play fell off the cliff and he was among the worst starters in the league with a -12.99 GSAx. That’s left the Red Wings with an uncertain situation between the pipes.
Veteran Reimer was brought in this offseason however he’s also coming off a rough 2022–23 season where he posted a .890 save percentage and -6.84 GSAx. If Husso can rebound to his 2021–22 form, the Red Wings move up these rankings but for now, their duo has to be considered one of the weakest in the league.
#29 Montreal Canadiens
Montembeault had a seriously strong 2022–23 season behind a terrible Canadiens roster, posting the 13th best GSAx in the NHL at 16.78. The problem is before last season he had a career .891 save percentage across 52 games. Odds are he regresses back towards that.
Allen meanwhile has been a strong veteran option in net the past few years but his play slipped last year as he posted a sub .900 save percentage for the first time of his career. This duo isn’t terrible by any means but the upside just isn’t there.
#30 Columbus Blue Jackets
Merzlikins was the worst goaltender in the entire NHL last season as he finished the year dead last for GSAx at -26.74 along with a shocking 4.23 GAA. The hope is he can return to his pre-2022–23 form where he was an above-average starter with a career .913 save percentage and 2.88 GAA.
Tarasov was slated to be the Blue Jackets backup before going down with an injury. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much better in 2022–23, finishing the year with an .892 save percentage across 17 games of action.
#31 San Jose Sharks
Kahkonen was one of the NHL’s worst goalies last season posting a -25.1 GSAx the third worst total in the league. There’s not much reason to believe he’s in for a big bounceback considering the direction the Sharks are headed.
Blackwood is a new addition who in a couple of years has gone from a rising star to a below replacement level goalie. The Sharks are hoping a fresh start revitalizes his career but that’s a big ask behind this roster.
#32 Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks are among the worst teams in the NHL and as such have a patchwork duo in net. Veteran Mrazek returns after posting a respectable -0.88 GSAx in 2022–23 considering the team in front of him, but wouldn’t be a starter on nearly every other team in the league.
Soderblom will be going into his second NHL season after posting a -2.5 GSAx in 15 games last season. Unlike Mrazek there’s some potential here but it’s not enough to float this goaltending situation.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire