TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 5: Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the pre-game warm up sporting the reverse retro jersey prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings during at Amalie Arena on February 5, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images)

Arguably the toughest job in hockey is being a goaltender and when the netminder is on their A-game, they’re heroes; when they go into a slump, these players are blamed for all of the team’s woes.  As the 2022-23 regular season fast approaches, it’s time to look at the “best of the best” goalies heading into training camp.  Mind you, this is my list of top goaltenders and certainly a difference of opinion will be out there. There are other high caliber goalies in the NHL who help positively impact their teams each game but for brevity I’m focusing on what I consider to be the top five around in 2022-23.

Who are the best goalies around in the NHL this coming year?

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers:  While I may get some disagreements from sabermetrics folks and a host of Tampa Bay Lightning fans, it’s hard to argue that Igor Shesterkin isn’t the best of the best last season.  Shesterkin was awarded the Vezina Trophy last year and was a primary reason for the Rangers making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning.  Shesterkin played in 53 games, posted an eye-popping .935 SV average and a low 2.07 GAA and with a 36-13-6 game record, Shesterkin looks to be the top goalie again this year.  Whatever Shesterkin does, the Rangers will follow – if he has a great season, the Rangers will go deep in the playoffs; if he’s have an off year, the Rangers will have a tough time in the talented Metro Division.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning: It’s a tossup between Shesterkin and Vasilevskiy since both squared off against each other in the Eastern Conference finals.  Vasilevskiy helped carry the Lightning to the Stanley Cup finals agains the Avs and played a solid 63 games with a 39-18-2 overall record.  Statistically, Vasilevskiy was solid as a rock with a .917 SV average and a 2.49 GAA.  The Lightning look to be a perpetual powerhouse in the NHL with Vasilevskiy protecting the pipes.

Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes finished first in the Metro Division last year and it’s no coincidence that Andersen helped the “Canes to top finish last season.  Despite a history of injuries and “choking” in the playoffs, Andersen played in 52 games and posted a strong 35-14-4 record with a strong .922 SV average and a very low 2.17 GAA.  The Hurricanes may use a tandem of Antti Raanta along with Andersen so his time in between the pipes may go down; however, the upside to this goaltending sharing duties means that Andersen could be well rested in time for the playoffs.

Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators: Saros has been the Predators workhorse and put in 67 games last season while posting a .918 SV average and 2.64 GAA.  Saros did have a lower overall win record and posted a lower 38-25-4 but when looking at how many games he played, Saros is still one of the most dependable goalies in the NHL and if his defense helps him, he may have an oustanding year ahead of him.

Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders:  You may ask why would I include a rival goalie in my top list this season? Simply put, Sorokin is the “real deal” and it’s time for the Islanders to just let Sorokin take over the primary netminding duties this season.  In 52 games, Sorokin had a strong .925 SV avearge and a 2.40 GAA and a winning 26-18-7 overall record.  Sadly, Sorokin’s steady play wasn’t enough to propel the Islanders into the playoffs and with this team’s current turmoil, even a top-notch effort by Sorokin may not be enough to help this team get back into the postseason.

Honorable Mention List:

Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames:  63 games played, .922 SV average, 2.22 GAA, 37-15-9 overall record.

Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks: 64 games played, .915 SV average, 2.72 GAA, 33-22-1 overall record.

Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins: 58 games played. .919 SV average, 2.42 GAA, 34-18-4 overall record



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