Outspoken goaltender Robin Lehner of the Vegas Golden Knights recently conducted a Q&A via Twitter. One of the questions that he answered was about who the top five goalies in the NHL were, excluding him. In response, he named six:
Some of the goalies he named were expected. Andrei Vasilevskiy just won two consecutive Stanley Cups, won the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy and is a former Vezina Trophy winner. Tuukka Rask‘s career save percentage (SV%) of .922 is tied with Ken Dryden and Dominik Hašek for the best in NHL history; seeing his name on here is no shock. Marc-André Fleury (“Flower”) is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, so again, it’s not a surprise his name is on Lehner’s list.
However, the other three goaltenders on Lehner’s list may surprise people. These are John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks, Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders, and Cal Petersen of the Los Angeles Kings. Arguably, the most interesting name Lehner included on his list was Petersen.
Petersen’s NHL Career To Date
Petersen, 26, made his NHL debut during the 2018-19 season and has gotten games under his belt during every subsequent season. However, prior to last season, he was LA’s third-string goalie, as Jack Campbell served as the Kings’ backup goalie before his departure. Petersen’s statistics in each of his first two seasons were:
|Goals-Against Average (GAA)||2.61||2.64|
|Save Percentage (SV%)||.924||.922|
As indicated above, Petersen only had started 18 NHL games (he skated in 19 because he got into a game in relief as a backup) prior to the 2020-21 season. Last season was his coming out party, as he showcased his skills on a bigger stage. He started 32 games, and stole the crease from Jonathan Quick, going 9-18-5 over that span. Furthermore, he subbed in for Quick during three games, bringing his games played total up to 35.
Throughout Petersen’s 35 games last season, he strung together a .911 SV%. This ranked 10th among goalies who skated in 30 or more games, and was tied for 23rd among all goaltenders. Furthermore, he posted a 2.89 goals against average (GAA), which ranked 41st in the league, but 16th among goalies who played in over 30 games.
The Kings gave up 31.2 shots per game during 2020-21, ranking 23rd in the league in this regard, underscoring how he was much busier in net than other netminders who faced fewer shots night in and night out. Due to the high volume of shots he faced, looking at his goals saved above average (GSAA) is a good metric to utilize. For those that don’t know what GSAA is, here’s a brief explanation of the statistic:
“Goals Saved Above Average is calculated by the league’s average save percentage with the number of shots a goalie has had. The resulting number is the average goals a goalie in whatever league you’re evaluating would’ve surrendered if they took the same number of shots as the goalie you’re evaluating”.Goalie Coaches
Petersen posted a GSAA of 3.88, ranking 23rd overall in the NHL, but had 11th-best number among goalies who performed in 30 or more games. Overall, his numbers in 2020-21 firmly cemented himself as a starting goalie at the NHL-level.
High Praise From Lehner
Lehner has been considered one of the NHL’s best goaltenders over the past few seasons. For him to be heaping this praise upon Petersen is impressive for the LA Kings‘ netminder. Lehner’s praise may be lavish, as their are numerous other goaltenders whom fans would argue are better choices for this list, but it is impressive that one of Petersen’s peers views him in such a favourable light. At 26 years old, he is still young with room for improvement, and should become the Kings’ anchor between the pipes for the next few seasons.
Let me know what you think of Lehner’s remarks in the comment section below. Are they close to the mark or are they way off base?
Stats per: Hockey-Reference & QuantHockey