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Impact
Impact!
NHL.com's Online Magazine
Feb/2003, Vol. 1, Issue 5
  • Roy's success inspires Quebec's next generation

  • NHL.com's list of the top 10 goalies from the last 20 years

  • European goaltenders evolve into NHL stars

  • Belfour turns criticism to praise in Toronto

  • Wigge: NHL shooters discover goalies can't be beat

  • Martin Brodeur has the time, talent to be the best ever

  • John Vanbiesbrouck hangs up pads to be a bench boss

  • Behind the scenes: Working overtime to grow the game

  • Photo of the month

  • Back issues of Impact

  •  
    Mike Vernon
    Mike Vernon has plenty of hardware to validate his place on the list, namely two Stanley Cups championships and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs.

    Who's the best?
    NHL.com's list of the top 10 goalies from the last 20 years
    By Shawn P. Roarke



    Goaltending has been a vital component of every successful NHL team. Even the dynastic Edmonton Oilers of two decades ago -- a team that could score like no team before or since -- boasted two of the game's best goalies, Grant Fuhr and Bill Ranford, during their run of greatness.

    The legends that have inhabited the crease throughout the history of the NHL are almost too numerous to chronicle in any manner that would do justice to the athletes involved. But, in the last two decades, goaltending has been at even more of a premium than in the past.

    With an increased reliance on defensive systems and a spate of low-scoring games, goaltenders have emerged as some of the game's biggest stars during the last 20 years. Today, goaltenders like Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek are as revered as scorers like Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

    With that in mind, NHL.com looks at the 10 best goalies during the last 20 years. In order to qualify for the list, the goaltender must have started his NHL career during or after the 1982-83 season and must have appeared in at least 400 NHL regular-season contests.

    10. Ron Hextall -- One of the most combative and competitive goalies of any generation, Hextall was among the best goalies of his generation, but he never secured the championship hardware to solidify his position. Hextall, the first goalie to score a goal in a regulation game against Boston in 1987, did win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1987, but his Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Edmonton Oilers in seven tense games. He also earned the Vezina Trophy and was named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team that season. For his career, Hextall went 296-214-69 with 23 shutouts and a 2.97 goals-against average in 608 regular-season games. In the playoffs, Hextall had some problems, recording a 47-43 mark with just two shutouts and a 3.04 GAA. Hextall, however, did finish with five 30-win seasons in his injury-plagued 13 NHL seasons.

    9. John Vanbiesbrouck -- One of the few goalies on the list not to have won a Stanley Cup, Vanbiesbrouck was still one of the best netminders of his generation. During the 1995-96 season, Vanbiesbrouck almost single-handedly delivered the Stanley Cup to the expansion Florida Panthers. After going 26-20-7, the man known as "Beezer" got hot in the playoffs and delivered the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals, where the team fell to Colorado in four games. "VBK" posted a 2.25 GAA in 22 playoff games that season. Vanbiesbrouck played for the New York Rangers, Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils during a playing career that saw him go 374-346-119 with a 2.98 GAA and .899 save percentage in 882 regular-season games.

    8. Chris Osgood -- Still going strong with the New York Islanders, Osgood made his reputation with the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings of the mid-90s. Despite being overshadowed by stars like Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Nick Lidstrom, Osgood played a key role in Detroit's back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. In 1997, Osgood had a strong regular season before being supplanted by veteran Mike Vernon in the playoffs. The next year, Osgood went 16-6 with two shutouts and a 2.12 GAA in the playoffs as the Wings defended their crown. Now with the Islanders, Osgood has already won 30 or more games five times in his career. In 490 appearances, he is 270-147-56 with a 2.45 GAA and 36 shutouts. In the playoffs, he has been even better -- going 41-29 with nine shutouts and a 2.20 GAA in 75 appearances.

    Mike Richter
    Mike Richter has won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers, played in three Olympic Games, and also led Team USA to the 1996 World Cup Championship.
    7. Mike Vernon -- This smallish goalie won Stanley Cups with two different franchises, taking the ultimate honor with the Calgary Flames in 1989 and again with Detroit in 1997. He earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1997, recording a 16-4 record with one shutout and a 1.76 GAA. With just 21 games of NHL experience under his belt, Vernon almost led Calgary to the Stanley Cup in 1985-86, going 12-9 in the postseason before falling to Montreal in five games. In 138 playoff games, Vernon went 77-56 with a 2.68 GAA. In regular-season action, Vernon was 385-273-92 with a 2.98 GAA and a .890 save percentage. Vernon played in five NHL All-Star Games during his career and shared the William M. Jennings Trophy with Chris Osgood after the 1996-97 season. Vernon also played for San Jose and Florida during his career.

    6. Mike Richter -- The American-born goalie made his name during 1994. First, he backstopped the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup Championship in 54 years with a 16-7 mark and a 2.03 GAA that featured a record-tying four shutouts. During the regular season, Richter won a League-leading 42 games. Next, he played in the 1994 NHL All-Star Game and walked away with MVP honors. Facing a possible end to his career because of head injuries, Richter owns the Rangers' franchise record for wins, going 301-258-73 with a 2.89 GAA in 14 NHL seasons. Internationally, Richter is perhaps the Americans' most-decorated goalie, having represented his country at three Olympics, winning silver in the 2002 edition and leading his team to the gold medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.