May 15, 2020

The 10 Greatest Goalies in NHL History

The debate on what makes a great goalie includes a number of different variables. Is it based more on individual accolades such as Vezina Trophies or are Stanley Cups more important? Does having a higher save percentage make you an excellent goalie even without the accolades or titles?

Every goalie on this list has a combination of all of those variables. Some are more individually successful while others have the championships to show how prolific they have been in their hockey careers. 

Hockey fans can argue both ways about a few who didn't make our ranking. However, the top three on this list are undoubtedly the three best goalies the NHL has ever seen. The order they are in can surely be mixed up.

Do you agree with this list as is or do you think Nos. 2 or 3 should be the greatest goalie ever? 

READ: The 10 Best Hockey Players Ever

10. Roberto Luongo

Luongo never won a Stanley Cup and some might say that is enough to keep a goalie off of this list. However, it is not Luongo’s fault that he never won a Stanley Cup because the talent around him was always lacking. 

Luongo has a .920 career save percentage and is in third in all-time wins (489) and ninth in shutouts (77). That's pretty good for a goalie without a title. 

9. Bill Durnan

Durnan played in the NHL for just seven seasons, so him being on this list may confuse some people. However, in those seven years, Durnan managed to win the Vezina Trophy six times, which is currently tied for the second-most ever. Durnan won his Vezina Trophies during a span from 1943 to 1950, back when the award was given to the goaltender who allowed the fewest goals.

Durnan also led the league in wins for four straight seasons. He has two Stanley Cup titles to his name and held a shutout streak record that lasted for nearly 55 years when he went 309 minutes and 21 seconds without allowing a goal.

Had he played longer, Durnan would surely rank higher on this list. 

8. Bernie Parent

Just 13 goalies have ever won a Conn Smythe Trophy and Bernie Parent is the only goaltender to ever win it in back-to-back seasons. En route to helping the Flyers win their first Stanley Cup, Parent allowed just 35 goals in 17 games, including a Game 6 shutout to win the title.

He repeated that task the following season with another Game 6 shutout to win another Stanley Cup.

Parent led the league in minutes, wins, shutouts and GAA multiple times in his legendary career.

7. Ken Dryden

Dryden was another goaltender with a short NHL career. Dryden played just nine NHL seasons but ended up winning six titles, including four consecutive Stanley Cups.

Those Stanley Cups weren’t the only thing Dryden won as he notched five Vezina Trophies in his career.

Dryden has the stats to go with his career awards. He led the league in shutouts and wins four times each.

6. Glenn Hall

Hall was an 11-time All-Star who led the league in shutouts six different times. Hall is one of just 13 different goalies to win a Conn Smythe Trophy. He even managed to play in 502 consecutive games, back when seasons were just 70 games.

Hall is 11th all-time with 407 career wins. He is also fourth all-time in career shutouts with 74.

5. Terry Sawchuck

Hockey players are some of the toughest people on the planet and very few are tougher than Sawchuck. The goalie suffered tons of injuries in his career and he still managed to play through things that other people wouldn’t even think of. 

Toughness aside, Sawchuck also managed to win four Vezina Trophies and four Stanley Cups in his career. He had the record for career shutouts (103) that lasted nearly 40 years. Sawchuck kept his GAA below 2.00 in every season from 1950-1955, the only goalie to do so in that span. He is currently eighth all-time in career wins with 445. He led the league in shutouts three separate times.

4. Jacques Plante

Plante is famously known as the goalie who helped bring facemasks into the league. After taking a puck to the face and breaking his nose, he returned to the game with a new facemask, which later sparked a revolution.

Plante is the only player in NHL history to win seven Vezina Trophies, including five in a row. He also won five Stanley Cups during the 1950s.

Plante was the league’s regular-season and playoff GAA leader in each of those five seasons. He became the fourth goaltender to ever earn the Hart Trophy.

3. Martin Brodeur

Brodeur is one of the most decorated goaltenders in NHL history. His trophy case might not be big enough as he has won four Vezina Trophies, three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and a Calder Trophy.

Stats wise, Brodeur is at the top of the list of most major goaltender stats. Brodeur is the all-time leader in career wins (691), shutouts (125), playoff shutouts (24), saves (28,508) and he has also scored three goals in his career, a record for goaltenders.

Essentially the Wayne Gretzky of goalies in terms of statistical dominance, you could argue a higher spot on this list. However, he played five seasons more than the two players higher on this list, which helped him amass such large statistical numbers.

2. Dominik Hasek

Hasek has some of the most athletic saves in NHL history, thanks to his extra-flexible body. One of the more impressive facts about Hasek is that he is the only goaltender to ever face the most shots per sixty minutes while also leading the league in save percentage — and he did it twice.

Hasek has six Vezina Trophies (tied for second-most ever), two Stanley Cups, two consecutive Hart Trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

Known for playing on weak teams, if Hasek had more talent around him, there is no doubt he'd have an even more impressive career than he did.

1. Patrick Roy

Roy was as dominant as any goalie on this list and he has the stats and accolades to prove it. Like Hasek, Roy led an offensively-challenged team for part of his career. Roy led the Canadiens to two Stanley Cup Finals. He also had a record 10-consecutive sudden-death overtime victories, proving he is as clutch as any goalie to ever play the game. 

Roy won four Stanley Cups, three Conn Smythes and three Vezinas. He was also known for helping convert saves into goals as he had 45 career assists, which was more than Brodeur in 191 fewer career games. He led the league in save percentage four times and shutouts three times. 

However, his playoff performances are what puts him at the top of this list. Roy also had 151 career playoff wins with a career playoff winning percentage of .611, compared to .551 for Brodeur.

In playoff overtime games, Roy was 38-15. In nine separate seasons, he led his team to the third round or better in the playoffs.

Photo: Getty Images