The Top 5 NHL goaltenders of 2022

      We look at the most volatile position in hockey to see which goalies were the best over the calendar year.

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      With the holiday season in full swing, and 2023 quickly approaching, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was, and see who the best players of the calendar year were. We witnessed some incredible performances over the course of the second half of the 2021-22 regular season, the 2022 playoffs, and the 2022-23 regular season so far, but only the best of the best will make these lists.

      Today, we’ll be looking at goaltenders. While a calendar year is still a small enough sample size to see a player go nuclear when they aren’t generally at that level, especially in a position as volatile as goaltending, there are still some incredible performances that were put together, and most of them were from goalies that have sustained that over multiple years.

      Those who’ve read my work know how much I like to use statistics to base my lists off. While that’s still the case here, it’s hard to do a complete list solely off stats because I’ve yet to find a website that combines regular season and playoff stats over the course of a specific date range, so I had to put a little bit of personal opinion into it as well. I’m sure this will go well and we’ll all have a great time.

      Honorable Mentions

      Andrei Vasilevskiy

      While his regular season numbers weren’t quite at the level of some of the goalies on this list, he turned it on when it counted in the playoffs with a 0.935 5v5 Sv% and 8.38 5v5 GSAA and was a big reason the Lightning made it to their third straight Stanley Cup Final, even if they did fall short for the first time in that stretch.

      Jake Oettinger

      His regular season performance on its own was pretty good, but it’s Oettinger’s playoff performance that gives him a shoutout on the list. A .953 5v5 Sv% and a 7.16 5v5 GSAA in the first round almost single-handedly won the Dallas Stars that matchup against the Calgary Flames, and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen from a goalie in a long time.

      Linus Ullmark

      The inverse of Oettinger, Ullmark’s playoff numbers were forgettable, but his regular season has been excellent, especially with what he’s done in the early going in the 2022-23 campaign. He’s rocking a .937 save percentage through 22 games, and while wins and losses aren’t really a goalie stat, only two losses are very impressive, even if the team in front of him has played a big part in that.

      5. Connor Hellebuyck

      Regular Season: 0.924 5v5 Sv%, 15.42 5v5 GSAA

      Playoffs: N/A

      As far as goaltenders who are consistently the best goes, Connor Hellebuyck is probably one of the few in the league that does it on a year-by-year basis. Every time the Jets have an incredible season, you’ll usually see Hellebuyck posting numbers in the .925 range and bailing out the Jets when the defense in front of him hasn’t been quite up to snuff.

      For this season, Hellebuyck was doing just that yet again, playing a big role in the Jets fighting for the Central division lead early in the season, and now that the defensive structure has been much improved at this point of the season, Hellebuyck hasn’t slowed down and relaxed, but made this team even better. His 2021-22 season might have been the worst we’ve seen from him since his breakout in 2017-18, so it keeps him just at number five, but he’d probably be higher if this list was looking at the past five seasons.

      4. Juuse Saros

      Regular Season: 0.926 5v5 Sv%, 18.16 5v5 GSAA

      Playoffs: N/A

      Juuse Saros had some very big shoes to fill in Nashville when he took over the starting gig for the Predators after Pekka Rinne’s game began to slow down before his eventual retirement, and while he doesn’t have the legacy in Music City just yet, his play so far has more than lived up to it.

      His 2021-22 campaign was an incredible one, and he was robbed of a Vezina nomination after playing a huge role in getting the Nashville Predators to the playoffs, which he, unfortunately, didn’t even get to play in because his workload on the season to get there resulted in a late-season injury. He’s stepped back slightly this season, which is why he comes in a bit lower on this list, but even then, his play has been far from bad, especially on a team that has seen many players regress after career years. We’ll have to see if this season has been regression or if his last couple of seasons were a flash in the pan. But for now, Saros is one of the best in the league.

      3. Darcy Kuemper

      Regular Season: 0.931 5v5 Sv%, 23.02 5v5 GSAA

      Playoffs: 0.900 5v5 Sv%, -6.34 5v5 GSAA, Stanley Cup

      Darcy Kuemper appearing on this list, never mind in a top three spot, may come as a shock to some people, mostly because the first thing you probably think of was how he didn’t play well in the playoffs or how the Washington Capitals have struggled this season. His playoff numbers were poor, yes, but we forget that he played a majority of that run with an eye injury, so the fact that he managed to play well enough not to cost the Colorado Avalanche a Stanley Cup win is still quite impressive.

      With that in mind, I decided to not let the playoffs hinder what an incredible regular season performance for Darcy Kuemper in 2022 was, both in the back half of his year with the Avalanche and his start to the season with the Capitals. Kuemper has been somewhat underrated since he turned his game around in Arizona and has proven to be one of the best goalies in the league, especially in 2022.

      2. Ilya Sorokin

      Regular Season: 0.933 5v5 Sv%, 25.03 5v5 GSAA

      Playoffs: N/A

      People were expecting Ilya Sorokin to be an excellent goaltender for the New York Islanders when he joined them in 2020, but I don’t think anyone imagined him reaching this level. He’s taken over the starting goalie role in New York thanks to an excellent 2021-22 campaign and made himself a front-runner for the Vezina trophy for his start in 2022-23, playing a big role into why the Islanders are contending for the postseason right now.

      It’s unfortunate that the timing of Sorokin hitting his prime started right as the Islanders’ status as a defensive juggernaut has come to an end, because it would be amazing to see what he could do behind that defense for a playoff run. But at the same time, a goalie isn’t truly at his best until he’s carrying a poor defense on his back, which has added to Sorokin’s performance this year.

      Unfortunately for Sorokin though, he still isn’t the best goalie in the league or even the best Russian goalie in the state of New York…

      1. Igor Shesterkin

      Regular Season: 0.933 5v5 Sv%, 25.52 5v5 GSAA

      Playoffs: 0.938 5v5 Sv%, 10.61 5v5 GSAA

      It feels a bit cheap to put the Vezina trophy winner in the #1 spot on the list, but at the same time, that only accounts for a third of his playing time for the time frame of this list. While that 2021-22 season was incredible, Shesterkin was just as incredible in the playoffs, as even when he slowed down in the later stages of the regular season, he managed to return to form and play a huge role in the New York Rangers run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

      He’s also been a huge part of the Rangers so far this season, and with the team improving in front of him, they could be looking at taking another step in the playoffs if everything clicks at the right time. Shesterkin hasn’t been a world-beater like he was in 2021-22, but he’s still been incredible and looks like he’ll be an essential part of the Rangers’ future.

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