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USA’s Goalies in the NHL, Better Than Canada’s?

USA’s Goalies in the NHL, Better Than Canada’s?

This guest article is by Jeff Hall, Coaching Director at Stauber’s Goalcrease.

In this article author Jeff looks at the top six starters in the NHL from several countries and asks the question – are the Americans the best, and deepest, in the crease?

Take a look and leave him a note in the comments with your thoughts.


Sure-fire Vezina Nominee Jonathan Quick may be America's best right now. Are there any Canadians who can match him? Ken DeNardo photo.

Do you remember not so long ago when the US went to the Olympics with John Grahame on the roster?  Rick Dipietro and Robert Esche started for the US in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey when Canada had Brodeur, Finland had Mikka Kiprusoff, and Russia had Evgeni Nabokov,  each  in their prime.  As Americans we were envious, given our lack of goaltending.  We had no superstars. We had no depth.  It was a dark time for American goaltending.

During those years the Canadians had future Hall of Fame types like Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and Ed Belfour. Finland was having a surge of NHL goalies coming through and there was progress in Swedish and Russian goaltending depth.  The US only had the memories of Mike Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck, and Tom Barasso.

Well, the times they are a changin’ as this year’s playoffs showcases a plethora of US-born and trained goalies on top of their game.  I took a quick look at current NHL goalies and picked my personal top six from each of these countries.

 

Pekka Rinne, from Finland, is one of the best in the game.

Russia's Ilya Bryzgalov has had an erratic season with this scene all too familiar in his four playoff starts thus far. Scott Slingsby photo.

Stanley Cup winner Cam Ward will be in the mix for Canada if NHL players return to the Olympics in 2014. Buren Foster photo.

Finland

  • Rinne
  • Backstrom
  • Kiprusoff
  • Niemi
  • Rask
  • Lehtonen

Russia

  • Bryzgalov
  • Bobrovsky
  • Nabokov
  • Khabibulin
  • Varlamov
  • Khudobin

Canada

  • Elliott
  • Smith
  • Luongo
  • Price
  • Ward
  • Fleury

USA

  • Howard (see InGoal’s feature on Jimmy Howard in the latest issue of their magazine)
  • Thomas
  • Quick
  • Miller
  • Schneider
  • Anderson

Sweden, Czech Republic, and Slovakia are not listed because they don’t have 6 NHL starters. 

Of course this is a matter of opinion but after looking at the lists, I’m picking the Americans as the top goalies in the world right now.  And I may be the first human being to ever put those words in print.  It’s never even been considered before.

I didn’t see this coming. It snuck up on me.  But I like it.

God Bless America!

Editor’s Note: What do you think? Hit the comments below and let us know – there’s nothing like a good goalie debate!

About The Author

22 Comments

  1. Daniel

    Without any sort of reasoning behind why you picked the goalies on each list this is nothing more than a prideful fluff piece. I don’t think anyone has seriously considered the US undermatched in goaltending for the last 5 years or so.

  2. Danny Miller

    I agree there should be more statistics, but I think Hall is on track. I’ve felt like American goaltending has been great since the 2010 olympics when it really stood out. If Quick wins the Vezina (as he should) this year it would make 4 years in a row a US born goalie has done so. What’s more surprising to me than America being #1 might be that I think Finland would be #2 before Canada, and Russia a not so distant 4th.

  3. BeninLondon

    Personally I would have to say that the Fins are the deepest if you look at top 6 from the lists provided. The Americans do have some depth as well but I don’t think that they have the same upside as the Finns

  4. Paul Ipolito

    Who cares? They are all great goalies and we love goalies, right?

  5. Paul Ipolito

    Better add some kid named Holtby to the Canadian list.

  6. Matt in Montreal

    Oh yeah, I’d put Thomas, Quick and Schnieds on my team in a heartbeat!

  7. JT

    I would take any country except Russia … personally I think that Russian goalies at the moment are pretty weak in both quality and more importantly consistency (Khabibulin is the exception).

    However with that being said … what determines real goalie quality is long term success (in league and playoffs); flash in the pans look nice but let’s see them in 5-10-15 years …

    With that being said you left out the greatest goalie of all Martin Brodeur!!!!!!!

    A statistical sample of 1200 goalies per nation over time would yield a much different picture. Cherry picking a “freak blip” at a point in time says nothing … but highly discredits the author of any credibility.

    A better analysis (which has already been done to a degree) shows that the Canadian system (OHL, WHL, etc.) is a massive producer along with the US College system; you give birth to them and we build them. The Finish Model is really the “greatest new quality producer” due to size of goalie and athletic ability; plus vikings tend to be much cooler in my opinion 😛 (level headed, smart, dedicated and cool under pressure).

    The obvious jingoistic and “trolling” tone of this “post” is a joke … put your flag down and focus on the goalies.

  8. Josh Hoekstra

    Certainly Canada has had the best goalies over time (Brodeur), but the author is talking about who you would take on your team today. If you had to take a goailie on your playoff roster today you would want to be choosing from the list of Americans.

  9. JR

    I love all goalies.

  10. Arron

    I hate to say it but the trend is definitely towards American goalies over Canadian. Although I’ll say Finland is tops as a nation for NHL tenders. Just going based on the Vancouver Olympics. Who would you rather have on your PRESENT fantasy team? Fleury/Brodeur/Luongo for Canada or Miller/Thomas/Quick for USA?

    As a Canadian I am sadden by this lol

  11. Jeff Hall

    It broke my heart to leave Brodeur off the Canadian top six. But I was just looking at recent success.

  12. Bob

    Hall you might be seeing another cup run from Marty right before your eyes. And I am sure, without looking back in history, that you are indeed the first person to ever write those words. Kinda like being the first person to set foot on the moon. Which was also done by an American, if memory serves me right.

  13. Mclovin

    Lundy?

  14. Ryan

    How on earth did Holtby and Lundquist not get put in there?

    • David Hutchison

      He notes at the bottom that Sweden not on the list because it’s only countries with 6 starters (not sure Russia should be there then either) – no doubt he’d make a top 6 of all goalies list. Holtby great now but wasn’t exactly Washington’s starter before the playoffs began – but you can’t question how great he has been.

  15. Paul Ipolito

    Marc-Andre played himself off this list. I think you need to do an article on the Western Conference goalies.What an awesome superstar lineup! Smith,Rinne, Halak, Elliot, Quick.Amazing.

  16. Nathan

    It is scary as a Canadian to notice these type of things. I think the reason why Americans think their goaltending is so good is because of Jonathan Quick. Sure he is a good goaltender but he has MUCH help from his team mates to keep the puck to the outside. IMO Brodeur was the better goalie in the NHL finals. Same thing applies to Thomas. It is still scary to think that we would be playing against Quick and Thomas in upcoming olympics.

    • Sean

      Probably not Thomas but I imagine Quick will be there if he continues to play well. The Canadians aren’t anything to sneeze at either and I imagine Fleury,Price and Ward will all be in the mix to start for Team Canada.

  17. Dave Pastorius

    How many US born goalies have won the Stanley Cup? I can only think of 3 but those championships were driven by Canadians. Im pretty confident no USA NHL team would have ever won a cup if not for key roles by Canadians. If Canadian players only played on Canadian teams and American born players only for USA teams , USA would have zero cups. Dont agree? Find me a NHL US team that won the cup that Canadians didnt play key roles.

    • Carrie

      And you could say the same thing about some American players. Three teams that made it to the final four in 2012 were captained by Americans. LAK = Dustin Brown, NYR = Ryan Callahan, NJD = Zach Parise. LA wouldn’t have won the cup in 2012 if they didn’t have Quick and Brown. And Jack Johnson did a LOT of work on that team before he was traded to Columbus. I’m a Pens fan and we wouldn’t have made it as far as we did this past season without guys like Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin. And the Pens now have Brandon Sutter, who is American and Canadian and has made a huge impact. The Blackhawks would have had a harder time winning the Cup in 2010 without Patrick Kane and in 2013 without Kane and Brandon Saad. In 2011, the Bruins probably wouldn’t have won the Cup if it hadn’t been for Tim Thomas. The Blues probably wouldn’t have had a tremendous season last year if it wasn’t for David Backes, Jamie Langenbrunner, and TJ Oshie. The Ducks might not have been as good as they were this past season without Bobby Ryan, who will definitely probably help Ottawa out A LOT. Toronot (OF ALL TEAMS) would probably not had made the playoffs without Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. The Habs benefit greatly from Max Pacioretty and the Capitals benefit greatly from Jonathan Carlson. So I understand your point completely, but it’s a two way street.

  18. Troy

    Russian goalies are weak? They are weaker in the NHL but when the other goalies are challenged to see the wider ice & faster speeds, the Russians usually work well (hence, 2012 world championship) plus Russia is going to score 6+ goals on everyone AT THE LEAST….. such a stacked team, Datsyuk, Malkin, Tarasenko, Ovechkin, Semin, Kuznetsov, Burmistrov, Yakupov, Kovalchuck, Anisimov, Afinogenov, Radulov, Volchenkov, Grebeshkov, Gonchar, Voynov, Popov…. how can you stop that?

  19. Tom Harrington

    Don’t forget about Ben Bishop.