It is nothing short of typical for today’s goaltenders, NHL or otherwise, to play a moderate, reliable style, being aggressive when needed and conservative when needed— come out of the blue paint on breakaways and straddle the top of the crease under zone pressure. It makes sense then, that when Henrik Lundqvist spends an entire game near his goal line, or Jonathan Quick acts like a third defenseman, that it makes us wonder how they enjoy the success they do. Here, I break down the pros and cons and give tips on both deep and aggressive play.
An NHL goaltender has the weight of the world on their shoulders. A good performance from a team’s goalie has the power to make or break a game, a responsibility felt in no other position in sports. To have good games here and there is one thing, but to be consistently exceptional is another— the goalies on this list have earned their spots in the ‘Top 5’ for being among the few who impress year after year.
For those not familiar with the this tongue-twister named goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is an 18-year old from Espoo, Finland, taken 54th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2nd round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. His 6’4″ stature and performance in recent years on the international stage in the World Junior Championships (WJC) has ushered him into prominence among scouts, leading to his early selection by the Sabres this year. But just what kind of goalie is Luukkonen, and what can we expect to see from him in the near future?
Goalies have been told to always “keep their eyes on the puck” and “follow the play with their eyes,” lest they lose sight of the puck and it ends up in the back of their net. However, in recent years a new trend has been making its way into the crease: using your entire head to track the puck, rather than just your eyes. This technique is called “head trajectory.” It has helped pros such as Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk revitalize his game, but is it as “revolutionary” as some claim?
This year’s expansion draft forced the hands of more than a few General Managers, prompting them to make a move and shake up their depth in the crease. Rumors of Ben Bishop being one of the goalies moved had been discussed for some time, and at the trade deadline, Bishop found himself with the Los Angeles Kings. After a short stint in LA, Bishop was flipped to the Dallas Stars, who finally seized their opportunity for procuring a solid starting goalie. However, the Stars took on some risk signing Bishop, as he is not certain to be stable for long— at least not entirely.
On June 21 during the NHL Awards ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the Vegas Golden Knights selected their roster, the last step in establishing themselves as the league’s 31st franchise. It had been rumored that perhaps the most lucrative player available was pegged since February to be chosen: Marc-Andre Fleury.
Many NHL teams addressed the goaltending position this offseason, as was expected with the expansion draft complicating their respective situations. Some squads made predictable moves while others left us scratching our heads. Some teams decided to stay put and ride on their goalies from last season. Here are 3 goalies I think are going to “boom” in the 2017-18 season and 3 that I think are going to “bust.”
To complete a mutually beneficial transaction in today’s NHL has become a rare, difficult task. More often than not, one team is left happier and better off than the other. However, I believe that there is a move that would benefit the needs of both the San Jose Sharks and the Toronto Maple Leafs: a player-for-player swap of Justin Braun and James van Riemsdyk.