Prior to the 2021-22 season beginning, I put lists together on the top 10 players for each position, as well as coaches. It goes without saying that it is a very tough list to do given how subjective it is, but nevertheless I am here to do it once again.
Related: NHL’s Top 10 Defencemen for 2021-22
With the 2021-22 season now half way through, there are some players who have lived up to their rankings, some who have dropped off, and some who have forced their way on with great play. With that being said, here are the top 10 goalies for the first half of the season.
10. Sergei Bobrovsky
After two seasons spent in Florida, the seven-year, $70 million deal the Panthers gave Sergei Bobrovsky in 2019 appeared to be a major mistake. After years of fantastic play for the Columbus Blue Jackets, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner posted save percentages (SV%) of .906 and .900 with his new club.
Thankfully, Bobrovsky has been able to turn things around in 2021-22. Through 32 games, he owns a 2.56 goals against average (GAA) along with a .920 SV% and a phenomenal 23-4-3 record. While the contract still certainly isn’t great, it is looking much better than it did at this point last year.
9. Ilya Sorokin
On the rankings I put together before the start of the season, I had a goaltender for the New York Islanders on the list, though it was Semyon Varlamov rather than Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin was able to fully take over the starting job at the beginning of the season due to an injury to Varlamov and played remarkably, proving to fans all around that the hype surrounding him before getting to the NHL was for a reason.
Lately, he has been swapping starts with Varlamov on what is a shockingly bad Islanders team. Despite his team’s poor play however, Sorokin has been fantastic with a 2.31 GAA along with a .924 SV%. He also sits second in the entire league for high danger SV% with a .818. He should continue to be a dominant goalie in the NHL for years to come.
8. Tristan Jarry
Had you told me Tristan Jarry would be on this list before the season began, I would have laughed at you. The 26-year-old faced heat all offseason regarding a questionable 2020-21 campaign and an even worse playoff performance, one which had many suggesting the Pittsburgh Penguins should find a new goaltender.
To Jarry’s credit, he managed to block out all the negative noise and came ready to play in 2021-22. Through 37 games, he owns a very impressive 2.21 GAA and a .923 SV%. The Penguins as a whole are surprising a lot of people this season, and their starting netminder is a big part of the reason why.
7. Jacob Markstrom
After a rough showing in his first season with the Calgary Flames, Jacob Markstom is playing to the level they hoped when they gave him a six-year, $36 million deal. The 32-year-old started out the season red hot, and outside of a bit of a rough stretch in December and early January has been nearly unbeatable.
Through 33 games, Markstrom has a ridiculous 7 shutouts, which nearly doubles the netminders tied for second in Sorokin and Jack Campbell, who each have four. His performance plays a major role in the reason the Flames are having the bounce back season they are in 2021-22. If he is able to continue adding on to his shutout total, he will undoubtedly be in the Vezina Trophy conversation at seasons end.
6. John Gibson
Perhaps the most surprising team of the 2021-22 season has been the Anaheim Ducks, and their goaltender in John Gibson is playing arguably the biggest part. After two subpar seasons by his standards, the 28-year-old is back to playing like his old elite self.
Though his numbers of a 2.49 GAA and a .922 SV% aren’t as spectacular as some on the list, they don’t tell the whole picture into just how great Gibson has been. Playing behind a team that gives up a lot of chances, he has had to be on the ball a ton, and that shows by his unbelievable .863 SV% on high danger shots. If he is somehow able to lead this Ducks team into the playoffs, it is possible they manage to go on a run simply because of how incredible he is.
5. Jack Campbell
What a story Jack Campbell has become. After being selected 11th overall back in the 2010 draft, the now 30-year-old spent plenty of time in both the American Hockey League (AHL) and the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and appeared to be a major draft bust. However, he was able to finally show some promise with the L.A. Kings back in 2018-19, and has blossomed into an elite talent with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After a great showing in his first season with the Leafs in 2020-21, Campbell has been just as good if not even better this season, posting a 2.30 GAA along with a .925 SV% through 32 games. A rough January has caused his name to fall off the Vezina radar slightly, but he appears primed to get back on track after kicking aside 31 of 32 shots in his first start of February versus the New Jersey Devils.
4. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Due to just how good the Tampa Bay Lightning are as a team, Andrei Vasilevskiy can sometimes get overshadowed when talking about potential Vezina candidates. That is certainly the case this season, as the Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner is having yet another great year, posting a 2.23 GAA along with a .922 SV% thus far.
Though his play so far hasn’t been quite good enough to earn him a second Vezina, he is certainly in the running and could easily become the frontrunner with a solid second half. While it would be a great accomplishment however, you can bet he has his sights focused instead on a third straight Stanley Cup Championship.
3. Juuse Saros
For years, hockey fans were teased with stories about how much potential Juuse Saros had, but were unable to see it on a nightly basis due to him playing behind another great goaltender in Pekka Rinne. After being given the starting job in 2020-21, he is showing to everybody just how elite of a goalie he is.
Through 38 games this season, Saros owns a 2.35 GAA and a magnificent .927 SV%. He also ranks fourth in the league with a goals saved above expected (GSAx) of 19.3. The Nashville Predators are in good hands for a long time with him as their number one.
2. Frederik Andersen
While Campbell has been getting the most talk, the story of Frederik Andersen is an incredible one as well. After a number of solid seasons with the Leafs, the 32-year-old struggled in 2020-21, which was talked about daily due to the market he was playing in. While injuries played a factor, some started to question whether or not he was past his prime, and the Leafs chose to move on.
Ironically enough, the Leafs chose to sign former Carolina Hurricane Petr Mrazek to a three-year deal with a $3.8 million cap hit. That prompted the Hurricanes to bring in Andersen on a two-year deal with an average annual value of $4.5 million. Now, Mrazek is the one who can’t stay healthy, while Andersen is lighting it up in Raleigh with a stunning 2.01 GAA and a .929 SV%. He is very much in the running for what would be his first ever Vezina.
1. Igor Shesterkin
Prior to Igor Shesterkin joining the New York Rangers, he was hyped up as being a potential Vezina Trophy caliber netminder, and that has certainly proved to be the case. After a relatively solid 2020-21 season, he has set the world on fire in 2021-22 with a 2.10 GAA and an unfathomable .937 SV%.
Shesterkin also leads all netminders with a 24.6 GSAx, and as of right now is leading the way in the Vezina hunt. Rangers fans should be counting their lucky stars that they were able to switch from an elite goalie in Henrik Lundqvist to Shesterkin himself in a very short timeframe.
Consistency Will Be Key
With there still being half a season to go, plenty could change on this list by the time the 2021-22 campaign is all wrapped up. This is clear by the fact that on the list before the season began, as seven of the goalies that appear here were not on it.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.