We continue our positional look around the Metropolitan Division today by taking a look at the top-10 goalie ranking in the division for the 2022-23 NHL season.
The goalie position is actually a really strong spot in the Metropolitan Division with two of the best goalies in the league residing here, a strong new addition to the division for a top Penguins rival, and some underrated players that probably deserve a little more recognition.
Let’s get to the rankings.
1. Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers. He has only played less than 125 games, including playoffs, in the NHL bu the has already established himself as one of the elites at the position. There was nobody better than him during the 2021-22 season and he was the single biggest reason the Rangers had the season they did and went as far as they did in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I do not know if I expect him to be quite as good this season (no goalie is consistently over a .930 save percentage while facing the type of shots the Rangers allow) but even if he regresses a little he is still going to be an elite, top-tier goalie. Total game-changer, series-changer, and season-changer.
2. Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders. It really seems like the Islanders’ struggles allowed his 2021-22 season performance to sneak under the radar. But he was sensational and probably the only bright spot in the Islanders’ season. He is also the biggest reason they might have for some optimism. The Islanders waited a long time for him to make the jump to the NHL, and it has been worth the wait. He and Shesterkin have the goalie position in New York locked down for the next decade.
3. Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals. Maybe a surprise in this spot? Do not let his playoff struggles fool you. He has been one of the best performing goalies in the NHL for a solid five years now and helps solve one of the Capitals’ single biggest Achilles Heels the past few years. I actually like this signing a lot for them.
4. Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes. There were a lot of doubts (from my perspective, anyway) as to whether or not Frederik Andersen had anything left in the tank when the Hurricanes signed him a year ago. As it turns out, he does. He was fantastic for Carolina and help give the Hurricanes one of the league’s best goalie duos along with Antti Raanta.
5. Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins. He had an outstanding bounce back year for the Penguins and if he would have been healthy in the playoffs I firmly believe they would have won at least a round, and maybe two in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is a big year for him because we have seen him be very good at times and also very bad at times. For as inconsistent as he has been at times he has still been a two-time All-Star before age 26 and his career save percentage is a very respectable .915 in 159 regular season games.
6. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders. The Islanders do not have much going for them offensively, but they do have two starting caliber goalies. That will give them a chance. Am honestly a little surprised they did not trade Varlamov for more help up front, but they might need to win every game 1-0 and can not give away games with a sub-par backup goalie.
7. Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets. Really like Merzlikins chances at a rebound season. He showed a lot his first two years in the league and it is understandable that he struggled this year given everything that happened in Columbus off the ice with their goalies before the 2021-22 season. Merzlikins spoke extensively about how tough that was. If he has a strong season the Blue Jackets could be a sneaky playoff contender in the Metropolitan Division.
8. Antti Raanta, Carolina Hurricanes. The other half of Carolina’s Jennings Trophy winning goalie duo. The big question for these two was whether or not they could get through a full season healthy given their recent injury histories. They did have some issues with that later in the year, but overall this is a great duo as both are starting caliber goalies.
9. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. He was supposed to solve the Philadelphia Flyers’ decades long question in goal but he has simply become another question himself. His career got off to a promising start, but the past two years have been very poor and he might already be entering a make-or-break year with the Flyers when it comes to being their long-term starting goalie.
10. Vitek Vanecek, New Jersey Devils. With MacKenzie Blackwood regressing the Devils needed to add another option in goal, and they turned to former Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek this offseason. Vanecek is not anything special, but he and Blackwood might be able to piece together a somewhat competent duo. This is still probably the weakest duo in the division.