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Behind The Numbers

Top 5 goaltenders of 2016

Martin Jones of Sharks, Matt Murray of Penguins headline list after reaching Stanley Cup Final

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

A total of 96 goalies played at least one game in the 2016 calendar year and it's no coincidence that the two most successful met in the Stanley Cup Final.

Here's a closer look at the numbers behind the five goalies who had the best 2016 and what to expect from each of them in 2017 and beyond.

 

1. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks

In guiding the Sharks to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, Jones led in most statistical categories, including 88 games played, 52 wins, 2,360 shots faced, 2,175 saves, and eight shutouts. His .922 save percentage ranked eighth among the 40 goalies to start at least 30 games.

Even when restricting the analysis to the regular season, Jones ranked second to Cam Talbot of the Edmonton Oilers with 64 games played, tied Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals for the lead with 38 wins, was second to Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild with a 2.09 goals-against average (minimum 30 games), and his five shutouts were one fewer than Dubnyk and Talbot, who led the League with six.

Will his success continue into 2017? At age 26, Jones is in his prime, has a previous track record of success in winning the Del Wilson Trophy as the Western Hockey League's goalie of the year in 2009-10, and has already helped guide the Sharks to first place in the Pacific division.

 

2. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

What an incredible rookie year for Murray, 22, who won the Stanley Cup by going 15-6, was an outstanding 20-3-1 in the regular season, and led all goalies with a combined .929 save percentage and a 2.01 GAA in 2016 (minimum 30 games).

This tops his amazing AHL rookie season in 2014-15, when Murray set the League's shutout record, going 304:11 without allowing a goal on March 8, 2015. He finished with 12 shutouts, breaking the record for a rookie. Murray was named to the First All-Star Team, won the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award for best rookie and the Baz Bastien Memorial Award for best goalie.

There isn't much higher for Murray to climb in 2017, but he could become the youngest goalie to win the Vezina Trophy since Jim Carey (22) of the Washington Capitals in 1995-96.

Video: NYR@PIT: Murray denies Stepan's two-on-one chance

 

3. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild

It was difficult to imagine Dubnyk's name on a list of the League's top five goalies at this point two years ago, when he was about to change teams for the fourth time in the span of a year, from Jan. 15, 2014 to Jan. 15, 2015.

Despite his disappointing .891 save percentage in 2013-14, the underlying numbers foreshadowed Dubnyk's imminent turnaround. At the time, his .873 three-year save percentage on shots exclusively taken in front of the net ranked eighth of the 64 goalies to face at least 1,000 shots, which is a great predictor of future success (source; Hockey Abstract 2014).

Dubnyk didn't have to wait long for that success, finishing third in voting for the Vezina Trophy and fourth for the Hart Trophy in 2014-15.

Despite those achievements, 2016 may have been his greatest year. Among those to play at least 30 regular-season games, Dubnyk ranks first with a .930 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA. His six shutouts are tied for the lead with Talbot, behind whom he ranks second with 1,770 shots faced and 1,646 saves.

Given that he leads the NHL with a .948 save percentage, a 1.55 GAA and five shutouts this season, Dubnyk's success should continue into 2017 and beyond.

 

4. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

After winning the Vezina Trophy, finishing fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy, being named to the First All-Star team, and tying Martin Brodeur's single-season record with 48 wins in 2015-16, it stands to reason that Holtby would be on this list. But why isn't he higher?

The lion's share of Holtby's success came in the 2015 portion of the 2015-16 season, when he was leading the League with a .934 save percentage, as opposed to his .911 save percentage in the 2016 portion.

Holtby returned to peak form in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, improving his career postseason save percentage to .937 in 46 games, which ranks second among active goalies to Mike Smith of the Arizona Coyotes (.945 in 19 games).

Factor in that success, and his strong start to this season, and Holtby ranks second with 44 wins, third with 71 games, fourth with 1,812 saves, a 2.22 GAA, and his .921 save percentage ranks ninth.

Video: MTL@WSH: Holtby gloves Plekanec's wrister on the rush

 

5. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

Even with his year briefly derailed by an upper-body injury March 17, and by an emergency appendectomy Dec. 3, Crawford is playing the best hockey in the seven seasons he has been Chicago's starting goalie.

Of the 40 goalies to play at least 30 regular-season games in 2016, Crawford's .926 save percentage ranks second to Dubnyk's .930.

Crawford, who won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2013 and 2015, is one of the most trusted goalies in the League, and his potential return to action this Friday against the Colorado Avalanche should ensure the Blackhawks begin 2017 atop the Central Division.

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