What kind of goaltending is needed to win in the NHL? Tim Thomas made a powerful argument last season that an elite netminder can make a huge difference for a winning team, reversing the post-lockout trend that had seen a number of lower-paid and less experienced goaltenders lead their teams to championships.
Yet during the offseason, general managers around the league still seemed to disagree on the relative value of goaltending. At one end, Ilya Bryzgalov cashed in from the goaltending-desperate Philadelphia Flyers (nine years, $51 million), while at the other, Tomas Vokoun had to settle for relative peanuts to join the Washington Capitals (one year, $1.5 million).
The following list of top 10 projected goalies, as generated by the VUKOTA projection system of Hockey Prospectus, shows the depth of talent in the crease around the league today as well as the goaltenders who are most likely to be difference-makers in 2011-12. Included for each netminder is his projected number of appearances, save percentage and his value as represented by goals versus threshold (GVT).
1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
60 GP, .917 save percentage, 17.9 GVT