Ranking the NHL’s goalie tandems is tricky. It’s about the overall strength of the tandem, sizing up that team’s opportunity to win every night, no matter who is in the crease those 20 or 30 other nights per season while the starter rests.
For this exercise, we decided to judge based on the tandem at full health. For instance, we assume Carey Price will not play for the Montreal Canadiens this season.
We’ve taken into account athlete history, expected playing time, strength of the team in front of them, travel considerations and more. Of course, it’s all debatable and that’s the fun of it.
This will be a living, breathing list. Your favorite team’s tandem may rise or fall as the season progresses.
Away we go, ranking the NHL’s netminding tandems from top to bottom:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Andrei Vasilevskiy & Brian Elliott
Vasilevskiy is the best big-game goaltender in the world. And his durability is tangible. ‘The Big Cat’ has been a workhorse for the Lightning and is one of the few NHL goaltenders capable of playing more than 60 games in a season. Brian Elliott had a resurgent 2021-22 season, going 11-4-3. The tandem had very similar numbers: Elliott’s .912 save percentage was just shy of the .916 posted by Vasilevskiy.
2. New York Rangers: Igor Shesterkin & Jaroslav Halak
Last season Shesterkin established his place as the premier goaltender in the NHL, earning his first Vezina trophy and carrying the Blueshirts to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Shesterkin’s .935 save percentage was Dominik Hasek-like. Going into the 2022-23 season, the only concern I see is health. Shesterkin played 53 games last year. Halak has played well in a tandem setting before, but his numbers have trailed off recently with fewr games played. The 37-year old from Bratislava is the wild card in New York.
3. New York Islanders: Ilya Sorokin & Semyon Varlamov
The Islanders have the best under-the-radar goaltending tandem in the NHL. Sorokin is 27 years old and in the prime of his career. He posted a .925 save percentage last season on an Islanders team that struggled at times. And while Varlamov started slow and had trouble finding wins, his game picked up during the second half. If the Islanders are better as a team, I think Sorokin will challenge for the Vezina trophy.
4. Calgary Flames: Jacob Markstrom & Dan Vladar
For long stretches of the 2021-22 season, I thought the Flames had the top goalie tandem in the NHL. Markstrom was on fire, head coach Darryl Sutter’s system was working, and Vladar was stout in his first full campaign. Both goaltenders play a similar style, which makes it easy on teammates. I wonder if Vladar will play more often this year, as Markstrom cooled towards the end of the season and didn’t have the Stanley Cup playoffs he was hoping for.
5. Carolina Hurricanes: Frederik Andersen & Antti Raanta
When Andersen and Raanta are healthy, the Hurricanes have arguably the best one-two punch in the entire NHL. But staying in the lineup has been a concern for both. Andersen was fantastic in his first season for Carolina, winning 35 games and stopping 92.2 percent of shots faced. But he missed the Stanley Cup playoffs due to injury. Raanta won another 15 games but also wasn’t available for stretches during the season – a common theme throughout his career.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins: Tristan Jarry & Casey DeSmith
I don’t think the hockey world has fully grasped just how good the Penguins tandem was last season. While Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and other star players were sidelined with injuries early in the campaign, Jarry played at a level worthy of Vezina Trophy consideration. Pittsburgh doesn’t make the playoffs without his performance. DeSmith struggled early but had a really strong finish. Both goaltenders sport a career .915 save percentage over a combined 255 NHL regular season games.
7. Florida Panthers: Sergei Bobrovsky & Spencer Knight
Bobrovsky is coming off his best season since 2018-19. And Knight was excellent once he returned to the Panthers from an 11-game stint in the AHL midway through the year. I think the Panthers tandem could be even better this season under new head coach Paul Maurice. Especially Knight. The sky’s the limit for the 21-year old from Connecticut as he enters his sophomore NHL season. And don’t count out Bobrovsky.
8. Ottawa Senators: Cam Talbot & Anton Forsberg
Forsberg may be the incumbent in Ottawa but now he has competition. Talbot was a winning machine for Minnesota last season, earning 32 victories in 48 starts for the Wild. At 29 years of age, Forsberg just received his first one-way, multi-year NHL contract this past offseason. But his .917 save percentage and 22-17-4 record with the Senators last season earned it. Talbot has a career .915 save percentage in 396 NHL games. I think there will be a fierce competition for the crease in Canada’s capital city.
9. Boston Bruins: Jeremy Swayman & Linus Ullmark
Swayman and Ullmark are a formidable tandem as it stands, but the real question is how much more can they give? Ullmark sports a career. 913 save percentage and has been incredibly consistent over 158 NHL games. He’s a good, proven NHL goaltender. But I think Swayman still has room to grow. His .914 save percentage in 41 games doesn’t show how dominant Swayman was at times last season. And for long stretches. The Bruins have a really good duo. But they need either Ullmark or Swayman to grab hold of the No. 1 job and run with it.
10. Nashville Predators: Juuse Saros & Kevin Lankinen
The Predators needed a solid No. 2 goaltender behind Saros. The problem is I’m not sure they got it. Saros is going to eat minutes in the Nashville crease, but at what cost? He played an NHL-high 67 games last season but got hurt right before the Stanley Cup playoffs. Saros is one of the best in the NHL but he needs help. And that’s not a guarantee from Kevin Lankinen, who struggled with the Chicago Blackhawks last year.
11. Vancouver Canucks: Thatcher Demko & Spencer Martin
Somehow Demko won 33 games last year for a Canucks team that couldn’t get out of its own way for the first third of the season. He played a career-high 64 games and solidified himself as a top-tier NHL goaltender. Martin might be a gamble, but he was outstanding in six games with Vancouver last year, gaining points for his team in every start while posting a .950 save percentage. Make no mistake, it’s Demko’s net. And at 26 years old, he’s just now reaching his prime.
12. Dallas Stars: Jake Oettinger & Scott Wedgewood
Can Oettinger back up his performance from the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, when he almost singlehandedly stole the first-round series against Calgary? The 23-year old from Minnesota faced 285 Flames shots and allowed just 13 goals. Oettinger played 48 games in the NHL last season after beginning the campaign in the AHL. The Stars were patient in his development and it’s paying off. Wedgewood has battled hard to earn the No. 2 job in Dallas, and Anton Khudobin will be available after missing a significant portion of last season to a hip injury.
13. Minnesota Wild: Marc-Andre Fleury & Filip Gustavsson
I wasn’t surprised when the Wild retained Fleury this offseason, signing the future Hall of Famer to a two-year contract extension. But what caught me off guard was electing to go with Gustavsson in a No. 2 role. Even at 37 years old, Fleury is an ageless wonder capable of stealing games. He’s one season removed from winning the Vezina Trophy. Gustavsson played 18 games for the Ottawa Senators last year, but his .892 save percentage and 5-12-1 record are a little concerning. Regardless, having Fleury as a mentor will be invaluable for the 24-year old Swede.
14. Washington Capitals: Darcy Kuemper & Charlie Lindgren
The Capitals completely overhauled their goal crease this summer, bringing in Stanley Cup champion Kuemper and veteran Lindgren. Kuemper didn’t receive much credit last year with the Colorado Avalanche. Some of that was due to a slow start. And he wasn’t particularly strong during the Stanley Cup playoffs. But Kuemper was an integral part of the Avalanche’s championship. After playing just five NHL games last year for the St. Louis Blues, Lindgren was rewarded with a three-year, one-way contract with the Capitals. At 28 years old, and with just 29 NHL games under his belt, Lindgren’s deal is a gamble for the Capitals. But the low cap hit will pay dividends if the Minnesota native is up to the task.
15. Detroit Red Wings: Ville Husso & Alex Nedeljkovic
I think the Red Wings might have the most intriguing tandem in the NHL. Husso is fresh off a breakout season with the St. Louis Blues. And Nedeljkovic just endured a year behind one of the worst NHL defenses I’ve seen in quite some time. The two netminders are different stylistically. Husso is very structured. Nedeljkovic plays with more flow and can jumpstart a breakout with his puckhandling. Both are looking to establish themselves as true No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL. There is motivation and opportunity aplenty in the Motor City.
16. Edmonton Oilers: Jack Campbell & Stuart Skinner
If the 2020-21 version of Campbell shows up in Edmonton, the Oilers will be getting an outstanding goaltender that should be ranked higher on this list. But the reality is that consistency has long eluded Campbell. The skill set is there, and his .916 career save percentage is impressive. But the wild swings in performance need to end. Skinner has put in the time at the AHL level and improved every year of his professional career. He’s ready for the NHL. Making the Oilers out of training camp should be a big boost for the 23-year old Edmonton native.
17. St. Louis Blues: Jordan Binnington & Thomas Greiss
Winning a Stanley Cup isn’t easy. And Binnington will forever carry that experience from 2018-19 when the Blues claimed hockey’s top prize. But the 2021-22 season wasn’t Binnington’s best. He started out on fire, covering up for the Blues’ poor defensive play. But by mid-season, Binnington had been relegated to the No. 2 role. He regained the starting job for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I think he’ll roll that into the coming season. Greiss is coming off a rare down year in Detroit. But he’s historically been a consistent performer, especially in a 1B role. Greiss holds a career .912 save percentage.
18. Winnipeg Jets: Connor Hellebuyck & David Rittich
No question last season was a grind for Hellebuyck. A .910 save percentage was well off expectations for the 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner. Hellebuyck played 66 games, second-most in the NHL. Granted the Jets struggled last season, particularly on the penalty kill. But Hellebuyck simply didn’t steal as many games as he has in previous seasons. He’ll be busy again this year unless Rittich can turn his game around and earn more work. The 30-year old from the Czech Republic had a rough 2021-22 season with the Nashville Predators, posting a career-worst .886 save percentage in 17 games.
19. Colorado Avalanche: Pavel Francouz & Alexandar Georgiev
Can Francouz claim the crease despite Georgiev making more money? Contracts have a tendency to dictate playing time, especially with goaltenders. But I think Francouz has been underappreciated. His numbers have been sterling in every league he’s played in for the past decade. Compare that to Georgiev, who got progressively worse over the course of five seasons with the New York Rangers. The common belief is that Georgiev has untapped potential. But I’m not sold. I think there will be a battle for the net in Colorado.
20. Montreal Canadiens: Jake Allen & Samuel Montembeault
With the team Montreal iced last season, it’s a wonder Allen was able to put up a .905 save percentage over the course of 35 games. He routinely saw more than 35 shots a night yet somehow kept his team in games. Montembeault did the same but not nearly as frequently, as reflected in his .891 save percentage. It is, however, worth noting that a lot of Montembeault’s starts came later in the season with a depleted Canadiens squad. Allen is a veteran presence for a rebuilding team. Health will be key. He missed a significant portion of last season due to injury. But when Allen is healthy, he’s capable of quality minutes as a No. 1.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets: Elvis Merzlikins & Joonas Korpisalo
Columbus had some brutal outings last season, yet Merzlikins managed to play 59 games and get points in 34 of those contests. He has a tendency to ride the emotional roller coaster, but Elvis can be a difference-maker. Korpisalo was once considered a can’t-miss prospect for the Blue Jackets yet has struggled over the past several seasons. He’s returning from hip surgery with hopes of reinvigorating a once-promising career.
22. Anaheim Ducks: John Gibson & Anthony Stolarz
Will Stolarz be called upon more often this season? I think there’s a real case to be made for the 6-foot-6 goaltender from New Jersey. Stolarz went 12-8-3 during the regular season along with a .917 save percentage. Gibson, on the other hand, went 18-26-11 with a .904 save percentage. Granted the Ducks weren’t any good last year, but Gibson was caught way out of his crease and scrambling far too often. His game hasn’t changed in years. Can Gibson retool and get back to being a .920 or higher save percentage goaltender like he was between 2015 and 2018? Changes need to be made for that to happen.
23. Toronto Maple Leafs: Matt Murray & Ilya Samsonov
Two reclamation projects share the crease in Toronto. It’s been three full seasons since we’ve seen the best version of Murray. And the Washington Capitals gave up on Samsonov despite selecting him in the first round of the NHL Draft in 2015. Add to the mix a history of injury with both goaltenders and it’s hard to predict what might happen in the Leafs’ crease this year. Consistency has been an issue with both. But the upside is that Murray is still just 28 years old and Samsonov is 25. If either can harness his immense talent, the Leafs could finally have a long-term solution in goal.
24. New Jersey Devils: Vitek Vanecek & Mackenzie Blackwood
The Devils blamed last season’s shortcomings on goaltending. So they traded for Vanecek. He’s played 79 NHL games over the course of two seasons with a .908 save percentage. I think he’s a quality goaltender but, to date, Vanecek hasn’t shown the chops necessary to carry the mail at the NHL level. Can Blackwood? If he can stay healthy and play like he did during the 2019-20 season, Blackwood might be the answer in goal for the Devils. But that’s a big if.
25. San Jose Sharks: James Reimer & Kaapo Kahkonen
Reimer has had a solid NHL career and found most of his success in a tandem role. He’s bland in style yet consistent in his overall performance. The Sharks know what they’re getting in the veteran. But Kahkonen is the unknown. He’s shown flashes of brilliance previously in his brief NHL career and was the AHL’s top goaltender during the 2019-20 season. If Kahkonen can streamline his game and stop chasing the play, he could be a star in the NHL. Reimer is the perfect archetype for Kahkonen to learn from.
26. Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick & Cal Petersen
Will this be Quick’s NHL swansong? He was outstanding for the first half of last season but eventually his play dropped off dramatically. Quick still has the natural athleticism and skill to steal games. But his lack of structure is easy to expose in today’s NHL. The same can be said for Petersen. His struggle to rotate and stay square to the shooter caught up to him last season, resulting in an .895 save percentage over the course of 37 games. Quick and Petersen are naturally gifted puck-stoppers, but a technical update is due for each.
27. Vegas Golden Knights: Logan Thompson & Adin Hill
The Vegas tandem is probably the hardest to rank purely due to inexperience. Thompson showed he was ready for NHL action last season, posting a .914 save percentage in 19 appearances. He was the AHL’s best goaltender during the 2020-21 season. But his rise to the NHL has been meteoric and it’s hard to predict what might happen over the course of an entire season. As for Hill, last season was a chance for him to become the Sharks starting goaltender for the next decade. But he was outplayed by James Reimer and battled injury. Hill has a .908 save percentage in 74 NHL games between the Arizona Coyotes and Sharks. To his credit, neither team was strong during his tenure there. But Hill has a lot to prove this year in Vegas. It remains to be seen how the pecking order shakes out when Laurent Brossoit returns from injury, too.
28. Seattle Kraken: Philipp Grubauer & Martin Jones
The 2021-22 season couldn’t have gone worse for Grubauer. He came to the expansion Kraken armed with a high-dollar, long-term contract yet finished near the bottom in every statistical category for NHL goaltenders. Grubauer loves to play aggressively out of his crease, but on a poor defensive team like Seattle, he was quickly exposed on lateral plays and rebounds. A few simple adjustments to his game would go a long way. Jones was adequate in 35 games last season for the Philadelphia Flyers, posting a .900 save percentage despite a very high volume of shots faced per game.
29. Buffalo Sabres: Eric Comrie & Craig Anderson
Here’s another tandem I think has a good chance of rising in the rankings this season. After several goofy years of riding the goalie carousel with multiple teams, Comrie finally got the chance to be a full-time NHL goalie with the Jets in 2021-22. He responded by posting a .920 save percentage in 19 games with a 10-5-1 record. It could be argued that Winnipeg should have played him more often last season. Comrie will get the chance to earn the net in Buffalo. A veteran of 683 NHL regular season matchups, Anderson owns a sterling .929 save percentage in 48 career NHL Stanley Cup playoff games. He will turn 42 years old next May as he continues to delay his second career in auto racing.
30. Chicago Blackhawks: Petr Mrazek & Alex Stalock
Mrazek fell out of favor in Toronto after just one season and now finds himself banished to Chicago, who just began a complete rebuild. He was hurt for long stretches of the year and erratic in net. So it’s probably a good thing for him that Chicago needs him to play often. Mrazek will have the chance to play his way out of last year’s funk. That is, if he can stay healthy. A constant theme of his career. Stalock hasn’t been a full-time NHL goalie since 2020 and posted an .872 save percentage in 12 games last year for the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. It was baffling when he received a one-way NHL contract this past offseason.
31. Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart & …
Hart is one of the best young goaltenders in hockey, but as it stands, he’s all the Flyers have. Either it’ll be 33-year old journeyman Troy Grosenick or Sweden’s Felix Sandstrom in the No. 2 position. And while Grosenick was lights out in the AHL last season with the Providence Bruins, posting a .933 save percentage in 30 games, his NHL experience is limited. Sandstrom played well during five games with the Flyers last season. But in 57 career AHL games, his .904 save percentage leaves something to be desired. Hart better be ready to play 60-plus games.
32. Arizona Coyotes: Karel Vejmelka & …
Did the Coyotes forget to sign a veteran NHL free agent goaltender this offseason? It sure feels like it. Vejmelka had an up-and-down first year in North America, but he did manage to play 52 games while learning to play on a smaller ice surface than Europe. Vejmelka is still a bit of a mystery but last year showed he can hang in the NHL. It appears that Ivan Prosvetov and Jon Gillies will battle it out for the No. 2 job in the desert.
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