This is a mini-series looking at the top 10 underpaid players from each position in the NHL, and we will kick off by looking at the goalies. Though the best goaltenders in the league often earn more, there are a number of goaltenders who are just breaking out and have yet to sign lucrative contracts or others having stellar seasons. The heavily relied upon stats in determining who has great contracts are based on if the goaltender can stop the puck and make the big saves, providing much better value to his team than he is paid to do.
The two stipulations for players to appear on this list are that they must be off their entry-level contracts and have played at least 20 games to this point in the season.
10. Connor Ingram ($733,333 AAV)
We kick things off with Connor Ingram, who is getting paid less than what the league minimum is in the NHL now. He was thrown right into the fire last postseason, as he had to start games for the Nashville Predators in the first round. He landed in Arizona this season in the final year of his very cheap deal and has backed up Karel Vejmelka.
Ingram’s record may be deceiving as despite going 6-13-7 on the season for the Coyotes, who are in a full rebuild, he has some very impressive stats to boost him up. Goals-against average (GAA) aside, since that’s more of a team stat, the 25-year-old has a .907 save percentage (SV%), which ranks 24th in the league, a .600 quality start percentage (QS%), and has recorded 2.9 goals saved above average (GSAA). His QS% is in the elite group of goalies, while his GSAA is above average.
9. Pheonix Copley ($825,000 AAV)
Pheonix Copley was the saving grace for the Los Angeles Kings this season, as they were horrible in net until the journeyman got the call-up and started winning every game. With just 26 NHL starts to his name before this season, he has started 31 for the Kings in 2022-23 and won 22 of them.
Once getting the call-up and showing the type of strong game he brought with him, Copley started nearly every game until the team acquired Joonas Korpisalo at the trade deadline; they’re now splitting starts. Copley is 22-4-3 with a .904 SV%, 2.61 GAA, an incredible .677 QS%, and -0.3 GSAA. The SV% and GSAA may not be great, but he never has too many shots against him and has proven he can hold the lead and win games for the Kings (from “L.A. Kings’ goalie decision: Will it be Pheonix Copley or Joonas Korpisalo?”, The Athletic, Mar. 1, 2023).
8. Alex Stalock ($750,000 AAV)
It just so happens we have another goaltender on a bottom-feeder and is on a one-year, league-minimum deal. Alex Stalock may not have played the most games this season due to injuries, but he has been very effective when he has started and allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to be in every game he starts.
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The 35-year-old played one game in the NHL over the past two seasons and came into Chicago to provide a .915 SV% behind a very weak roster. He may only be 9-10-1, but he has two shutouts, a .611 QS%, and 7.0 GSAA. He ranks ninth in the league in SV%, most of which can be credited directly to him.
7. Joonas Korpisalo ($1.3 million AAV)
Korpisalo is the second Kings’ goaltender to appear on this list, but most of the great performances that got him here were from his time with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team chose Elvis Merzlikins as their future number one and left Korpisalo with a small contract, expecting him to be the backup. The tables completely flipped as Korpisalo willed his team to victories with his performances this season on a team that was incredibly banged up and inexperienced.
The 28-year-old went 11-11-3 on a team that is 22-41-7 and last in the league before starting his tenure with the Kings 3-0-1. Korpisalo has a .912 SV%, .633 QS%, and 8.4 GSAA on the season, but with a good team in front of him now, he has a .921 SV%, and three of his four starts have been quality starts for the Kings. Unfortunately for them, he will seek a big contract in free agency and cost them a lot to re-sign.
6. Alexandar Georgiev ($3.4 million AAV)
This is the first goaltender on this list that is paid a decent amount of money for their work, but Alexandar Georgiev is one of the best goaltenders in the league this season and is still very underpaid. He ranks fourth in the league in SV% at .919 on a Colorado Avalanche team that has had multiple key injuries at all times throughout the entire season.
Related: Top 10 Overpaid Goalies in the NHL in 2022-23
Georgiev has stepped into the full-time starter role and ranks fifth in the league in starts (52) and third in the league in wins (32). The big benefit for the Avalanche here is that the undrafted goaltender is just 26 years old and is on this contract for two more seasons.
5. Ilya Samsonov ($1.8 million AAV)
The Toronto Maple Leafs took a chance on two goalies last offseason, and one has turned out to be a great success for them. While Matt Murray is overpaid, Ilya Samsonov has played excellently and taken over the starter’s net. After not receiving a qualifying offer from the Washington Capitals, the Maple Leafs got a bargain for the once very highly touted young goalie.
Samsonov is still only 26 years old and has played in just over half of the Maple Leafs’ games this season. He is being paid like a backup but is one of the best goaltenders in the league with a 24-9-3 record, .914 SV%, three shutouts, a .686 QS%, and 9.6 GSAA. Every one of those stats is very impressive, as he ranks 12th in the league in SV% and has been lights out at home this season.
4. Ilya Sorokin ($4 million AAV)
Ilya Sorokin makes this list for a second consecutive year as he is, without a doubt, one of the best goaltenders in the league and is very underpaid when you look at where he sits among the highest-paid goalies. Twenty-four goaltenders are paid more per season than the New York Islanders’ goalie. He ranks near the very top in a number of categories during a season where the team in front of him has regressed defensively without Barry Trotz behind the bench.
Sorokin is amongst the league leaders in games started and wins while ranking third in SV% at .924. The 27-year-old Russian has five shutouts, a .706 QS% and an incredible 32.1 GSAA. He will be in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy once again, and the Islanders still have one more year left on this great deal before he gets a big raise.
3. Stuart Skinner ($750,000 AAV)
As far as surprises and success stories go, Stuart Skinner of the Edmonton Oilers ranks near the very top this season. Nobody expected him to start more than 25-30 games this season after the team signed Jack Campbell, but due to Cambell’s horrible numbers, Skinner assumed the number one job by playing consistently all season and playing like the Oilers needed to win games.
Skinner may be a rookie, but he is off of his entry-level contract and on a league-minimum deal. This is the final year of his two-year, $750,000 contract, but he’s already signed a cheap extension for three more seasons, which may very well get him back on this list next season. He is an all-star, and although his numbers aren’t incredible, they are still solid. He is 23-14-4 with a .910 SV%, .585 QS%, and 7.9 GSAA. The big reasons why Skinner ranks in the top three is because of how key he has been to the Oilers’ success and the level he has overachieved.
2. Logan Thompson ($766,667 AAV)
There will continue to be a debate as to who is the better rookie goaltender this season, Skinner or Logan Thompson. What makes this even better is they are division rivals and may meet in the playoffs as well. Skinner may have more starts and have been more useful to his team this season, but there is a bit of a gap in stats.
Thompson is also an all-star like Skinner and is 21-13-3 this season. On top of that, his SV% is .915, he has two shutouts, a .583 QS%, and 12.4 GSAA. He beats out Skinner in three of the four key categories, but he’s also on a better defensive team. Considering the other goalies of the Vegas Golden Knights have also been good, Thompson gets the very slight edge over Skinner here.
1. Filip Gustavsson ($787,500 AAV)
The Minnesota Wild are all about getting the most value out of their players for a few seasons, or else they are doomed. That is exactly what they have gotten from 1B goaltender Filip Gustavsson as he may have started as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup, but the young goalie has started 31 games and is 18-9-5.
On top of a solid record, he ranks at the top of the league in the numbers that really matter in determining his value. While being paid just over the league minimum, he ranks second in the NHL in SV% with a stellar .932, has three shutouts, a .742 QS%, and 26.6 GSAA. He is hands down one of the best goaltenders in the league this season and has started too many games this season to be considered a backup. All of the other top goalies in the league in 2022-23 are paid like starters, whereas Gustavsson is still on a prove-it deal.
Any surprises above? Let me know in the comments if you agree with the list or who should get switched around.