By the Numbers: NHL Goalies

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

By Aaron Westendorf

A hot goaltender can win your team a Stanley Cup.

You’ve probably heard that phrase by now, but is it true? Evaluating NHL goaltender careers at a macro-level can be difficult, and judging by the amount of turnover in the NHL many teams still haven’t discovered an exact science to do so. Goaltenders are usually labeled as “weird” or “crazy” in NHL locker rooms. Typically, a goalie can take 3-5 years before they even crack a NHL roster. It takes time to develop and perfect your team’s net minding. Or does it? Should your team just sit back and trade for a goaltender instead of drafting one? Are there more undrafted goaltenders starting in the NHL than 1st rounders? (Yes.) Here is an overall look at goaltenders across the league, and their respective teams.

NHL Goaltenders, by the numbers:


Average age of an NHL goaltender


The number of teams an average NHL goaltender has played for. Dan Ellis (6), Ray Emery (5) and Curtis McElhinney (5) have played for the most NHL teams. Contact rights are exchanged quite often with NHL goalies, even without the goalie playing for the NHL team (see Carter Hutton). The structure of RFA after 3 years, or 3+2 years of NHL play typically places a goalie in an awkward place in terms of development. This has lead to many goalies around age 26 to be traded or not signed by their first team.


Number of undrafted goaltenders in the NHL.


Number of goaltenders drafted 1st round in the NHL.


The average career save percentage for NHL goaltenders.


The average career save percentage during playoffs for NHL goaltenders.


The number of NHL teams without any goaltender playoff experience: Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.


The number of NHL goaltenders with at least 10 playoff games started whose save percentage is better than their regular season average: Lundqvist, Quick, Howard, Rask, Crawford, Smith, Ward, Hiller, Halak, Holtby and Anderson.


The number of NHL teams whose starter and back up were both drafted by that team: Anaheim Ducks drafted John Gibson (39th overall-2011) and Frederik Andersen (87th overall-2012); New York Rangers drafted Henrik Lundqvist (205th overall-2000) and Cam Talbot (undrafted, but signed originally with the Rangers in 2010); Chicago Blackhawks drafted Corey Crawford (52nd overall-2003) and Antti Rantta (undrafted); LA Kings drafted Jonathan Quick (72nd overall-2005) and Martin Jones (undrafted).


The number of NHL teams to trade for both of their goaltenders: Avalanche, Oilers, Panthers and Blue Jackets. The Devils currently only have one goaltender listed on their NHL roster, should they trade for a backup that will make 5 NHL teams.


The number of NHL teams whose starter and backup both went undrafted: Edmonton Oilers.


The number of NHL goaltenders who were drafted twice. Craig Anderson was selected 77th overall by the Calgary Flames in 1999, and then selected again 73rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2001. Frederik Andersen was selected 187th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010, and then selected again 87th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2012.

All NHL goaltenders sorted by Games Played:

NHL rosters are filled for the most part at this point in the season. The New Jersey Devils are the only team that doesn’t have at least two goaltenders listed on their NHL roster. Some teams have three listed goaltenders going into the season. Judging by last year’s performances, depth charts, age and other known factors, I have narrowed down two goaltenders for each NHL team for this season. Here are the goaltenders listed by career Games Played (GP):