This guest article is from Larry Sadler, the Director of Smartgoalie.com.
Author Larry Sadler argues that the number of Canadian goaltenders in the NHL, like recent playoff phenom Braden Holtby seen here, actually exceeds the expected number, based on the number of registered players in Canada. Scott Slingsby photo
The intent of Jeff Hall’s recent article here at InGoal comparing Canadian and American goaltenders was admirable: to take a look at the list of NHL goalies and to see which country had bragging rights when it comes to goaltending.
In Jeff’s article he uses the word depth to describe the US goaltender situation. Depth is an interesting word. He, in his article, implies that it relates to talent, or skill. In fact, it means more than that. In my opinion, it also relates to the quality of numbers. In fact, I feel it would be best to look at depth in terms of fulfilled potential when we examine the condition of goaltending development in the US and Canada.
I took a quick look at the stats for NHL goaltenders in the 2011-2012 regular season and have come up with the following tables. When we look at the numbers of goaltenders and their country of origin we find one set of figures. By themselves these numbers reveal just a small fragment of the facts. To better appreciate the true definition of depth we have to consider potential – fulfilled potential, in fact. Take a look at the tables below. They don’t just show the numbers of NHL goalies and where they “hail from” – they also show the IIHF registration figures for each of these countries and what percentage of the IIHF total each country makes up. To me the sign of true depth is whether the country is living up to its percentage of IIHF membership. In other words, does the percentage of NHL members reflect that country’s level of overall participation?
When we look at the number of total NHL goaltenders this season and then look at their country of origin we see the following:
|Country||Goalies||% of NHL||Registered males||% of total Reg IIHF||# of males U20||% of U20 IIHF|
This shows us that Canada makes up 47.19% of goaltenders having played in the NHL this past season. When we look at its registration numbers we also see Canada has 36.93% of total IIHF membership and 45.24% of U20 registered players. So even though this number has declined in the past 10 years, Canada still makes up a higher percentage of NHL goalies than one would expect considering our percentage of membership in the IIHF.
Finland makes up 8.99% of NHL goalie totals and this is well above their IIHF & U20 numbers with their percentages almost double and triple the expected, respectively.
Sweden is even stronger with more than twice their registration numbers and more than three times their U20 numbers.
The US makes up just 19.10% of NHL goalies. This percentage has only improved slightly over the past 10 years, despite their high number of registered participants. Their NHL participation levels are below their percentage of IIHF membership numbers and U20 numbers. Their registration numbers are 87% of the Canadian registration numbers but their NHL numbers are just 40% of the Canadian numbers.
Let’s look at those goaltenders that have played 20 or more games:
|Country||Tt20 + GP l||% of NHL Ttl||Registered Ttl||% Reg IIHF||U20 Ttl||% of U20 IIHF|
This chart shows us that Canada makes up 47.19% of NHL goaltenders having played 20 or more games.
The US now makes up just 16.33% of NHL goalies. Again, this is below their percentage of IIHF membership numbers and U20 numbers.
Finland and Sweden continue to be strong.
Finally, we should look at those who have played 40 or more NHL games:
|Country||40 + GP Ttl||% of NHL Ttl||Registered Ttl||% Reg IIHF||U20 Ttl||% of U20 IIHF|
Canada makes up 24.49% of NHL goaltenders having played 40 or more games. The US makes up just 10.20% of NHL goalies, tied with Finland who has 13% of the US registration numbers.
In conclusion, we see that the US actually lacks depth, or at least is not developing as many top NHL goaltenders as one would expect based on their level of participation in the game. We see a large number of registered players in the US but their NHL numbers do not measure up. The US goaltending figures show they have unfulfilled potential.
The question that should be asked here is why there aren’t more US goaltenders playing when you consider their registration numbers.
Larry Sadler is the Director of Smartgoalie.com.
For further information on goaltending instruction please contact Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org.