The Carolina Hurricanes have only been around since 1997 but have quite a few notable seasons from their goaltenders over the years, including one this season. This list will give the top five best single seasons from Carolina Hurricane netminders. Many statistics will be used to determine which goalies belong on the list and which don’t. These statistics include: save percentage (SV%), goals-against average (GAA), shutouts as well as some advanced statistics which will be explained when stated.
Honorable Mention: 2013-14 Anton Khudobin (19-14-1) – .926 SV%, 2.30 GAA, 1 Shutout
With such a stellar stat line, one would think that Anton Khudobin would undoubtedly make the top five. Unfortunately, the Russian goaltender didn’t quite have the quantity to go with his quality starts. Yes, Khudobin had a very respectable season for what it’s worth.
However, the lower-body injury that sidelined him for almost three months forced him to play in only 34 games, which leads this to be more of a ‘what if’ season.
5. 2020-21 Alex Nedeljkovic (15-5-3) – .932 SV%, 1.90 GAA, 3 Shutouts
Although Khudobin couldn’t make the list due to his lack of appearances, the situation with Alex Nedeljkovic is different. First, this was the COVID-shortened 56-game season which obviously cut down the total number of games by a sizable margin. Secondly, if this was an 82-game season, this would be the greatest Hurricanes’ goalie season of all time. Nedeljkovic led the NHL in SV% and GAA, came in third for the Calder Trophy, but also wasn’t considered for the Vezina due to lack of starts.
Though Nedeljkovic started more games in 2020-21 than any other Carolina goaltender, he split time with James Reimer, the Canadian journeyman, and Petr Mrazek, the Czech who missed over two months with a fractured thumb. Nedeljkovic started 23 games while Reimer and Mrazek started a combined 33 (21 for Reimer and 12 for Mrazek). Playing time factored a lot into the decision to keep him at number five because it seemed like it was lightning in a bottle with Nedeljkovic.
4. 1998-99 Arturs Irbe (27-20-12) – .923 SV%, 2.22 GAA, 6 Shutouts
Arturs Irbe was one of the greatest goaltenders that this team has ever seen and in the 1998-99 season, he provided his best work between the pipes. He posted his career-high in SV%, GAA and shutouts that season, which rank third, fourth and first respectively in single-season Hurricanes history.
As for his advanced stats, his goals saved above average (GSAA) of 26.6 remains the best of any Hurricane goaltender. GSAA calculates how many goals a goaltender allowed against how many a league-average goaltender would allow in the same number of shots. In terms of leaguewide statistics that year, Irbe remained one of the top netminders. Irbe’s SV% ranked fourth, GAA ranked eighth, shutouts and GSAA ranked fourth in the league that year. Irbe had one of the best seasons in Hurricanes history, and probably was the best sub-30-win season for the franchise.
3. 2008-09 Cam Ward (39-23-5) – .916 SV%, 2.44 GAA, 6 Shutouts
His save percentage may not be up to par with the others on this list, but the other numbers are hard to ignore. Just three seasons after leading the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, Cam Ward became the all-time wins leader in a single season for the franchise. Doubly impressive is the fact that Ward won 39 of the 45 (86.7%) games that the Hurricanes won. It’s safe to say that Ward was the lifeblood of Carolina that season and the team wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him. His SV%, GAA and shutouts rank eighth, 12th and first respectively.
When looking at some more advanced numbers, Ward also ranked highly for the franchise’s single-season records. His 12.9 goalie point shares (GPS) placed him fourth all-time for the Hurricanes. GPS is an estimate of the number of points contributed by a goalie due to his play in goal. His GPS also put him sixth in the NHL that year while his SV% ranked 15th and GAA was 14th. It wasn’t the best season that Ward had; however, it was a historical one for him as he still owns the single-season win record.
2. 2010-11 Cam Ward (37-26-10) – .923 SV%, 2.56 GAA, 4 Shutouts
Here is the all-time wins leader for the Hurricanes putting his name on the list again. Ward put out his best season in 2010-11 with career-highs in SV%, GSAA and GPS. The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native recorded the fourth-highest save percentage, second-highest GSAA (22.9) and highest GPS (16.8) in Hurricanes history. Ward was likely the most valuable player on that team since he won 37 of the 40 (92.5%) games that Carolina won that season. The then-26-year-old faced the most shots in the league which contributed to his high relatively GAA.
Ward played in a season that was absolutely loaded at the goaltender position, headlined by the Vezina and Conn Smythe-winning Tim Thomas. Because of this, he finished just seventh in Vezina voting even though he led the league in saves and GPS. Ward finished eighth in the NHL in SV%, 14th in shutouts and didn’t even crack the top 15 in GAA. Those aren’t great ranks for regular stats, but his advanced numbers showed how great he truly played. His GSAA ranked fourth in the league and his GPS was the best in the league. His overall league rankings were a big factor in him not being awarded the number one spot.
1. 2021-22 Frederik Andersen (35-14-3) – .922 SV%, 2.17 GAA, 4 Shutouts
Frederik Andersen, the veteran who’s only been on the team for a single season, had an exceptional season. Andersen’s regular-season finished since he’s dealing with a lower-body injury, and he’ll likely be the first goalie in Hurricanes’ history to be top three in Vezina voting. His SV% ranks fifth all-time, while his GAA ranks third and shutouts is eighth.
Andersen performed as one of the best Hurricanes’ goaltenders when looking at his numbers versus the rest of the league. The Dutch netminder sits fourth in SV%, second in GAA and sixth in shutouts. His 21.9 GSAA also set him at sixth in the NHL for this season and third all-time for the Hurricanes. Although he’ll likely get beaten out by Igor Shesterkin for the Vezina, his stellar season still holds as the best in Hurricanes’ history.
Hi, my name’s Justin Bott and I cover the Carolina Hurricanes for THW. I’ve been a hockey fan for most of my life and love to write about it. Feel free to send me a DM on Twitter: @Justin_Bott