Skip to main content

Backup goalies

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

They don’t get nearly as much of the spotlight as the starting goalies, but if you don’t believe backup netminders are important, just ask a team that doesn’t have a dependable No. 2. Who have been the league’s top backup backstoppers this season? That’s the focus of this week’s Top 10.

10. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Avalanche

At age 34, Giguere is the oldest goalie on this list, but he’s still got something left in his tank, winning two of his first four games as an Av, posting a 1.98 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

9. Mathieu Garon, Lightning

Pressed into more action because of Dwayne Roloson’s early-season slump, the well-travelled Garon amassed three wins, an overtime loss and a regulation defeat in his first six games to keep the Lightning out of the Eastern Conference basement. His last two games haven’t been his best – he posted a save percentage of .706 and .750 against Nashville and Florida – but the 33-year-old showed his worth last season in Columbus.

8. Dan Ellis, Ducks

Ellis is notoriously streaky, but in his first full season with the Ducks, he’s been solid (1-1-0, 1.90 GAA, .941 SP) in two starts and clean-up duty.

7. Thomas Greiss, Sharks

Greiss has been the goalie of the future in San Jose for some time, but it took an injury to backup Antero Niittymaki to provide an opportunity for him with the Sharks this season. The 25-year-old has responded well, putting up a 3-2-0 mark, 1.99 GAA and .928 SP.

6. Devan Dubnyk, Oilers

Nikolai Khabibulin is off to a brilliant start for the Oilers. However, his understudy isn’t so shabby either. Dubnyk has beaten Pittsburgh and Colorado – posting a .971 and .938 save percentage respectively – and has an overall 2.19 GAA and .930 SP this season.

5. Martin Biron, Rangers

Like Giguere, Biron is 34 and on the back nine of his NHL career. He’s making the most of it with the Blueshirts this season, with a 3-0-0 mark, 0.95 GAA, .963 SP and one shutout.

4. Jacob Markstrom, Panthers

As a 21-year-old rookie, Markstrom could have been forgiven if he had a rough adjustment in Florida, but he had a save percentage at or above .935 in four of his five games. Panthers GM Dale Tallon sent him to the American League Monday, but that was because veteran Scott Clemmensen was returning from injury, not because of anything Markstrom did.

3. Jhonas Enroth, Sabres

Ryan Miller is revered in Buffalo for good reason. Yet when he encountered some tough times early in the season, Enroth provided sound relief. He’s a perfect 4-0-0 with a superb 1.41 GAA and .952 SP.

2. Brian Elliott, Blues

After bouncing between Ottawa and Colorado last season, Elliott has made a home for himself in St. Louis. Starter Jaroslav Halak (2.91 GAA, .879 SP) has been a disaster to this point, but Elliott has been an unexpected joy (5-1-0, 1.72 GAA, .941 SP).

1. Josh Harding, Wild

Harding posted career-worsts across the board (3.05 GAA, .905 SP) last season in Minnesota, but the reverse has been true this season. He’s 4-0-1 with a save percentage (.965) that’s tops in the league and the third-lowest GAA (1.18) among all NHL goalies. Oh, and he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. Good timing.

The Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on

If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.


Jake Oettinger

Why Short-Term Deals Are Better Gambles for NHL Goalies

Adam Proteau argues that the consequences of signing a goalie long-term can hurt a franchise much more than gambling on a short-term contract.

Andrei Kuzmenko

Andrei Kuzmenko Shines in a Conflicting Canucks Season

Andrei Kuzmenko turned his career year in the KHL into an NHL contract. As Tony Ferrari explores, he's now showing promise as a strong two-way forward.

Frank Boucher, Bill Cook, Bun Cook

From the Archives: The Rangers World Premiere in 1926

Madison Square Garden wanted their own NHL team to capitalize on the popularity of New York's original squad. As Stan Fischler details, the Rangers were born.