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.