As former NHL goaltender Kirk McLean once said, “It’s pretty tough for a goalie when you look at it. You’re always the last line of defense. If you let a goal in, you can’t go to the bench and hide between guys or anything.”
They often get lost in the record books because there aren’t many of them, but a team truly is only as good as their goalie. This article highlights the best goalies to ever strap on the pads; from new blood like Hendrick Lunquist, too legends like Johnny Bower. Their accolades will blow your mind.
“The Dominator” Did Just That During His Career
Dominik Hasek is probably the most athletic goalie the NHL has ever seen. He set the bar for European goalies in the NHL and it doesn’t look like that bar is going to be touched anytime soon. He was the first European to win the Stanley Cup and lead the league in goals-against average.
Today, Hasek still has the highest save percentage in NHL history at .922. He has won the Vezina Trophy six times, the Jennings trophy three times, and both the Hart Trophy and the Lester B Pearson Award twice each.
Marty’s Trophy Shelf Is HEAVY
Martin Brodeur spent nearly two decades playing for the New Jersey Devils. Marty has a trophy shelf that no one else can compete with. He has five Jennings Trophies, four Vezina Trophies, three Stanley Cup rings, two Olympic gold medals, and a Calder Memorial Trophy just to name a few.
Not only was he known for stopping the puck, but also scoring with it. He’s one of only two goalies to have scored a goal in the opposing net in both the regular season and playoffs.
Patrick Roy Stands Alone During The Playoffs
Patrick Roy’s career with the Montreal Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche is quite outstanding. He holds the NHL record for most playoff games played, most playoff wins, most playoff shutouts, and Conn Smythe wins earning that title three times during his career.
He was the first goalie to perfect the butterfly style of goaltending, he was also known for his passion and physical strength. If you don’t believe us, just ask a few of the Detroit Red Wings players who had to fight him.
Curtis Joseph’s Mask Design Made Him Unique
Curtis Joseph is one of the most recognizable goalies in NHL history because of his hockey mask. No matter what team, or color, Joseph played for, he would always be rocking a Stephen King-inspired snarling dog. His nickname comes from the King novel Cujo, which just happens to be the first two letters of his first and last name.
He played with the St.Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers during his storied career. He ended with a career 2.79 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
Jacques Plante(d) A Lot Of Seeds In Hockey
Jacques Plante earned his stripes with six different teams in the NHL from 1952 until 1973. He snagged himself six Vezina Trophies, numerous NHL All-Star Game selections and even the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1962 as the best player in the league.
He won five consecutive Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens and tallied a sixth shortly thereafter. He changed the goaltending position greatly as he was the first to leave his crease and control the puck. He was also the first to put his hand up for an icing call and the first to start wearing a mask.
The Price Was Certainly Right
Carey Price made his NHL debut during the 2007/2008 season with the Montreal Canadiens after being selected fifth overall in the 2005 NHL draft. He’s been the winner of the Ted Lindsay Trophy, the William Jennings trophy, the Vezina Trophy, and the Hart trophy, becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to win all four individual awards in the same season (2015).
Carey has posted a career 2.47 goals against average, to help him earn 321 career regular season wins in 624 career games.
Terry Sawchuck Rewrote The History Books
It takes a special player to have their jersey retired by the Detroit Red Wings, but Terry Sawchuck checks all the boxes. He won three Stanley Cups in the 1950s with the Red Wings and added another one when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His record of 103 shutouts held up in the NHL history books for nearly four decades and he was awarded four Vezina Trophies along the way. Many people say that he’s the best to ever play goalie.
Glenn Hall (Of Fame)
Many people will say that Glenn Hall revolutionized how goalies play the game today. He’s known as “Mr. Goalie” and started a then NHL-record 502 games as a member of the Detroit Red WIngs, Chicago Blackhawks and St.Louis Blues.
He was extremely superstitious and was known to throw up before every game. Apparently, it worked because he would go onto win three Stanley Cups, three Vezina Trophies, and a Conn Smythe Trophy. Not too shabby.
Bernie Parent Was A Wall Built Like No Other
Bernie Parent played 13 seasons in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins. With Parent as their goaltender, the Flyers won two straight Stanley Cups. He won the Vezina, and Conn Smythe Trophy both years.
In those two years alone, Parent posted 30 shutouts in the regular season and playoffs combined. It’s a feat that hasn’t been touched since and probably won’t be ever. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Vladislov Tretiak Never Played In The NHL
You might be surprised to find out that Vladislav Tretiak is the only goalie on this list to never play a single game in the NHL. He was a Soviet goaltender through and through, which is why his listing with the great goalies is sometimes challenged.
When he wasn’t playing for the Red Army team HC CSKA Moscow, Tretiak was busy winning 10 World Ice Hockey Championships and three Olympic gold medals to go along with it.
Ken Dryden Basically Owned The 1970s
With Ken Dryden backing them, the Montreal Canadiens went to six Stanley Cup Finals in just seven seasons. If you think about how incredible that is, it should really tell you everything you need to know about what type of goalie Dryden was.
In those years, he packed quite an accolade punch. He won the Vezina Trophy five times, the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1971 and the Calder Trophy in 1972. Only playing a partial first season, he’s the only player to win the playoff MVP award, then win rookie of the year the following season.
Johnny Bower Had Some Serious Staying Power
Johnny Bower was named one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players” in history in 2017 and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. He won three straight Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1962 to 1964 and won his first Vezina Trophy during that same time frame.
In 1969, Bower became the oldest goalie to play in a Stanley Cup playoff game at the age of 44. At the time, he was the oldest player to participate in an NHL game ever.
Grant Fuhr Broke A Lot Of Barriers In Hockey
Grant Fuhr was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003 and is best remembered for his decade of dominance with the Edmonton Oilers in the ’80s. He won a total of five Stanley Cups and was a six-time All-Star; just to flex a few of his stats.
He was the first black player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and the first to win a Stanley Cup. He has 403 career wins under his belt, so it’s easy to see why.
Mikka Kiprusoff Is One Of Finland’s Greatest Exports
Mikka Kiprusoff is one of the most legendary Finnish hockey players of all-time. He was selected 116th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 1995 draft and ended up being one of the most iconic goalies to strap on the pads.
After being traded from the Sharks to the Calgary Flames, Kiprusoff set a modern NHL record for lowest goals-against average at 1.69, helping his team get to the Stanley Cup Final. He won the Vezina trophy in 2006 as well as the William M. Jennings Trophy for giving up the fewest goals in the league.
Tony Esposito Is NHL Royalty
Tony Esposito played from 1967 until 1984 for the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks. He only has one Stanley Cup to his name but he was the winner of the Vezina Trophy three times and a six-time selection for the NHL All-Star Game.
He didn’t just enjoy success on the ice either, he would go onto serve as the NHLPA President and Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager later on his career and to high praise.
He’s Had An Award Winning Career In The Sunshine State
Roberto Luongo is a 19-year veteran in the NHL and has accomplished quite a bit in his career. He’s played for the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, and Florida Panthers. He’s the winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy for tending the team with the lowest goals-against average in the league.
Not only that, but he’s been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender three times, and the Lester B. Pearson Award once as the top player voted by his peers.
Eddie The Eagle Sure Did Soar
Eddie Belfour is considered by many to be one of the best goalies of all-time. His 484 career wins rank him third all-time among NHL goaltenders. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011 and is one of only two players to have won an NCAA championship, Olympic Gold medal, and a Stanley Cup.
His signature mask featured “Eddie the Eagle” and he wore the number 20 later on in his career to pay tribute to Vladislav Tretiak.
Hendrick Lundqvist Truly Goaltending Royalty
Hendrick Lundqvist is the only goalie in history to record 30 wins in each of his first seven seasons in the league. There’s a reason they call him “King” Hendrick. The Swedish netminder won the Vezina Trophy in 2012 after he was nominated in his first three seasons in the league.
He has played for the New York Rangers throughout his entire career. Internationally, he led the Swedish men’s team to their second Olympic gold medal ever in 2006.
Georges Vezina Left A Lasting Mark On The NHL
Georges Vezina played for seven seasons in the NHL, all of them with the Montreal Canadiens. He played 327 consecutive regular seasons games for the Habs and 39 playoff games before leaving a game in 1925 early due to illness. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died in 1926.
Vezina helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1916 and 1924 and got them to the finals three more times. He allowed the fewest goals in the league seven times during his career and after his death, the Montreal Canadiens donated the Vezina Trophy to the league to give the best goalie in the league that season.
Jonathan Quick Lives Up To His Last Name
The career that Jonathan Quick has been able to carve out for himself is quite the feat for a 72nd overall draft pick in 2005. He has been an Olympic Silver Medallist with team USA and has won two Stanley Cups.
He was awarded the Conn Smythe in 2012 (his first Stanley Cup) and has been known as the ultimate closed door on the ice since. He’s still playing for the LA Kings and has 309 career wins in 602 games.