Before the start of this 2019-20 NHL season, I previewed a list of three goalies to “boom” and three goalies to “bust” over the course of the year, providing an in-depth look at how I think each goalie will perform, and why. I also added a couple of honorable mentions for those who just missed the cut.
Normally, I would have liked to write this followup at roughly the 41 game mark, but time got away from me this season, so this is being published with each NHL team having played roughly 70 games. However, amid the pause of the NHL season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I now have some leeway for this time sensitive story.
Without further ado, here’s a midseason followup on how each of my predictions is playing out. Enjoy!
- 2019-20: 50 GP, 23-19-6, 3.23 GAA, .900 SV%, 1 SO
When it comes to the big offseason acquisition for the Florida Panthers, it can be put as bluntly as this: Dale Tallon and co. are not paying $10-million a year for a goals against average over 3, and a .900 even save percentage. The fact that this has been the case so far is disheartening, concerning, and troublesome – pretty much everything we didn’t expect Bob to cause in Florida, at least not in the first year of his massive 7-year contract. Statistically, Bobrovsky is on pace for the worst season of his career since 2011-12, when he played 29 games for the Philadelphia Flyers. With a 2.54 career GAA and a .917 career SV%, though, he has all the necessary tools to bounce back and prove he’s worth the money in the coming years.
- 2019-20: 43 GP, 24-13-3, 2.42 GAA, .914 SV%, 1 SO
If any of my predictions were a slam dunk, it was Carter Hart “booming” this year. For the first time in what feels like a lifetime for Flyers fans, the blue paint is protected by a reliable goaltender, and a damn good one at that. Philadelphia currently sits at second in the Metropolitan Division with 89 points, just 1 point behind the first place Capitals. Despite having troubles on the road and getting banged up at times this season, Hart has been everything and more that the Flyers could have hoped for. Look for him to continue to cement himself as a true #1 threat between the pipes.
- 2019-20: 36 GP, 19-10-5, 2.89 GAA, .920 SV%, 1 SO
While not boasting a Vezina-caliber type season like he did a year ago with the New York Islanders, I stand by my prediction of Lehner “booming” here, all things considered. Lehner signed a 1-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, stepping into an uncertain playing situation behind a pretty lousy team at the moment. In his time there, he was still able to manage a .918 SV%, and has been nothing but lights out since being traded to the Vegas Golden Knights at the deadline, where he’s yet to lose a game, and has 1 shutout to boot. If any GM has it in their heart to give this guy a multi-year contract, I think he’d be a steal for the club that signs him.
- 2019-20: 40 GP, 21-16-2, 2.69 GAA, .905 SV%, 3 SO
At the beginning of the season, I predicted Mrazek would have some competition in the arrival of James Reimer to Carolina, and considering how solid Reimer has been, I’d say I was pretty spot on. But, to give credit where credit is due, Mrazek hasn’t been all bad – rather, he’s been on pace with the league average, keeping a Carolina team afloat that hasn’t performed up to the standards we thought we’d see from a team a few months removed from the Eastern Conference Finals. If the ‘Canes can squeak into a playoff spot, I would say Mrazek has done his job just fine.
- 2019-20: 38 GP, 18-13-3, 2.75 GAA, .917 SV%, 1 SO
When I predicted Koskinen to be a “bust,” it was under the assumption he’d be the bonafide starter for the Oilers. But seeing as though he’s played one less game than his counterpart Mike Smith, it’s a bit hard to gauge what his stat line would have been prorated over, say, a 60 game start load. Seeing also that his stats are markedly better than Smith’s, maybe I was too hard on the hulking six-foot-seven, 31-year old goaltender. Maybe I was wrong too about Edmonton’s roster not being up to snuff, as they currently sit at second place in the Pacific Division with 83 points, just 3 points behind the first place Golden Knights. All in all, Koskinen has had a pretty solid season based on his workload, and his contract isn’t looking too bad after all.
- 2019-20: 50 GP, 30-13-7, 2.56 GAA, .912 SV%, 3 SO
As I said in the original piece, this had the potential to be my coldest take of all. And it’s safe to say it was. While not posting anywhere close to last year’s numbers of a 1.89 GAA and .927 SV%, Binnington has successfully managed to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. His defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues sit at second in the entire NHL with 94 points, Binnington eclipsed the 30-win mark in his first full season, and he has won 60% of his starts this season. No Stanley Cup hangover for this rookie.
Here’s a refresher on my honorable mentions:
Honorable mentions (boom): Philip Grubauer (COL), Joonas Korpisalo (CBJ)
Honorable mentions (bust): Connor Hellebuyck (WPG), David Rittich (CGY)
I’ll give a quick note on each of these goalies. Grubauer has been injured much of the season, making way for the right hand-catching Pavel Francouz to take over the crease in Colorado, so Grubauer hasn’t necessarily had his fair shake. Same goes for Korpisalo – in his case, being injured has led to one of the most exciting players of the season getting on the radar: Elvis!
After taking a huge step back last season following his stellar breakout year for the Jets, Hellebuyck needed to bounce back in a big way for Winnipeg. And while his team has been rather average all year with 80 points at the time of this writing, Hellebuyck has proved he can rebound with the rest of them, with 31 wins to date and a much improved stat line. Rittich has been okay for the Flames this season. Calgary as a team seems to have regressed tremendously from their Western Conference-leading record of last year, but Rittich has done his part in keeping them in the playoff hunt.