Yesterday, I threw a post together showing where the NHL’s best forwards this past season came from.  Four out of five were first round picks, and more than three quarters were still with the team that drafted them.  It was a powerful indication of the ability of NHL scouts to identify the best talent early and the importance of developing star players through the NHL Entry Draft.


Today, I’m going to look at the league’s best goalies – the 23 men who posted a 0.910 or better save percentage this season.


Original Draft Position


  • First Overall: 0/23 (0.0%)
  • Top-10 Pick: 2/23 (8.7%)
  • First Round: 5/23 (21.7%)
  • Second Round: 3/23 (13.0%)
  • Top 100 picks: 9/23 (39.1%)
  • Drafted Outside Top 100: 11/23 (47.8%)
  • Undrafted: 3/23 (13.0%)


How Acquired


  • Draft: 10/23 (43.5%)
  • Trade: 5/23 (21.7%)
  • Free Agency: 7/23 (30.4%)
  • Waivers: 1/23 (4.3%)


Those numbers are remarkable for how they compare to the numbers at forward.  For my list of forwards, 92.0% of players were taken in the first 100 picks at the NHL entry draft, with only 8.0% slipping into the bottom of the draft or missing out entirely.  For NHL goaltenders, the situation is completely different; many top goalies are never drafted, or are acquired with late picks.


Less than half of these players are still with the team that took them in the draft.  One of the best (Ilya Bryzgalov) was claimed on waivers, while others joined their current teams via free agency or by way of trade.  This tells us something: it tells us that the NHL, as a whole, is far worse at evaluating goaltenders than it is at evaluating forwards.  This isn’t just on draft day, but also at other times – which is why good goaltenders are allowed to depart via trade or to free agency, far more often than good forwards are.

Comments (6)

  1. I think it is more impart to do with Goalies generally seem to bloom at later ages. Where young forwards that can score, can move into the NHL easier for the reason defensive responsibilites can still be learned or if the are good enough they dont even have to back-check because there offesive upside far out weighs there deficencies. Where as a young goalie relies heavily on reflexes and therefore can be either a bust or golden. The best example is Fleury who in the first couple of years couldnt keep his feet still and over challenged on just about every shoot and I remember their being tons of trade talk surronding him. Price is another perfect example he was stellar in his first year and then everyone got tape on him and he has to adjust, and most likely will once he is traded this summer. The Undrafted part does shock me abit but when you see the success had in recent years of signing undrafted players and goalies it gives hope that one of the 3 the Leafs have signed in the last 2 seasons can be a star.

  2. That seems to be true that goalies need to develop physically and mentally before they get really good (the average age I could figure of the 16 best sv% by guys who had played more than 20 games was 30 yrs 4 months and Rask stuck out by being the youngest by at least 2 years). In this era of free agency at 25, it is simply too hard for teams to sit and wait for a good goalie to develop properly. And most GMs are focused on more immediate results than building 5-7 years down the road (let alone 10-12!).

  3. I hope Rask can beat the current trend that seems to be happening with young goalies where they come in dominate the first year and then fall apart the second year see Mason, Price, Raycroft going back abit. Their could be a couple more added to that as it will also be interesting to see how Quick, Anderson pan out next year are they one hit wonders or can they become legit elite netminders.

    Any idea on what the canucks, wild and kings are going to do with their young netminders that look nhl ready Schnider, Harding, Bernier. To me I am thinking there could be alot of shifting this summer when it comes to Goaltending.

  4. Rsmotors:

    I think Schneider’s dealt for sure, I’d guess L.A. breaks in Bernier in tandem with Quick and I’m not sure what Minny’s going to do with Harding; likely a trade if they can find a partner.

  5. You can also throw Price into that list of young tenders that could be shuffled. He won’t want to stay in Montreal to play back up to Halak so I’m guessing he holds out on a new deal till he’s traded. There’s lots of options both in the UFA and via trade. And the Oilers for their future need to get in and get one of the young tenders available. In a perfect world they could land Price. Question is what would it cost the Oilers to get him. Obviously one of their goalies JD or DD and likely a young forward would be going to other way.

    @ Jonathan I got two questions for you, obviously what can the Oilers give the Habs to get their hands on Price. And if they don’t who should they pursue next in your mind. Also where do you think Schneider’s going to end up. I could see both the Devil’s and Panther’s making a strong play due to Brodeur’s age and Vokoun likely leaving after next season.

  6. Just came into my head but what are Greiss’s chances of being a number one, if San Jose dosnt resign Nabokov, then do the go with Greiss, do his numbers show any potential? Or will the Sharks be in the market for another tender?

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