By Steven McGoey
This year's list of top goaltenders in the NHL features some new faces, some old faces, and some breakout performances.
As more and more teams adopt a two-goalie system the goalies on this list are largely responsible for their teams’ mid-season success.
Goaltending might be the most unpredictable position in sports so this list could look entirely different in a few weeks’ time. But let's have some fun at the mid-season point:
1. Igor Shesterkin - New York Rangers
In a league where teams go years without a true starting goalie, it seems the Rangers have gone from one generational goalie to another with Shesterkin stepping into the role left by Henrik Lundqvist.
The 26-year-old is the clear frontrunner for the Vezina at the halfway point, leading the league with 24.6 goals saved above expected on top of his 22-5-2 record and incredible .937 save percentage, which is second among all goalies with at least ten starts.
New York has allowed the most scoring chances against and the ninth most shots in the league, forcing Shesterkin to single-handedly make up for their defensive lapses and keep them in a playoff spot.
2. Juuse Saros - Nashville Predators
After mainly serving as a backup for a handful of years before finally emerging as Nashville's No. 1, Saros took the net from Predators legend Pekka Rinne last season and hasn't looked back.
The Finnish native has embraced the starter’s role this season after Rinne’s retirement and has the Predators in second place in the Central Division at the All-Star break.
The 26-year-old has started the most games in the league (38), faced a league-high 1,210 shots and 1,122 saves.
Saros has a 24-11-3 record with a .927 save percentage, a 2.35 goals-against average, and 19.3 goals-saved-above-expected.
On the smaller side for a goalie at just 5-foot-10, Saros has already passed his career-high in starts, but will likely have to play at a similar rate in the second half to keep Nashville in the playoff race.
3. Frederik Andersen - Carolina Hurricanes
Andersen probably deserved more Vezina votes than he received during his time in Toronto, but he will certainly get them this year after a red-hot first half of the season in Carolina.
The 32-year-old is tied with Saros for second in the league with 24 wins and is second to Shesterkin with 22.4 goals saved above expected. Andersen’s .928 save percentage and 2.08 goal against average would both be career highs.
Andersen has benefitted from playing behind a Carolina Hurricanes defense that has allowed the least number of shots in the NHL this year, but he has been solid in most aspects.
Andersen was a workhorse in the past but had injury trouble the past few seasons, how the Hurricanes manage him down the line could determine his Vezina placing.
4. Andrei Vasilevskiy - Tampa Bay Lightning
The 2019 Vezina and 2021 Conn Smythe winner is arguably the best goaltender in the world and is once again helping the Lightning to one of the best records in the league while the team navigates a variety of injuries.
Vasilevskiy is leading the NHL in wins with 25 to go along with a solid .922 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average.
Fifth among all goaltenders with 17.4 goals-saved-above-expected, Vasilevskiy is having a strong season, even if he is not being mentioned as much as past years.
The 27-year-old has played a ton of minutes over the last two seasons, playing every playoff game for Tampa while backstopping them to back-to-back Stanley Cups. A three-peat isn't crazy to think about.
5. Jack Campbell - Toronto Maple Leafs
At age 30, Campbell has finally been given a starter's role, and while he has had his ups and downs in recent weeks, his numbers still are among the league's best.
Campbell has a 21-6-3 record with a .925 save percentage and 2.30 goals-against average, as well as four shutouts, which is tied for second in the league.
Campbell's career .920 save percentage and 11.9 goals-saved-above-expected gives some credence to it not being a fluke, although his overall career sample size isn't huge.
Data via Natural Stat Trick and MoneyPuck.