Amongst all the never-ending disputes and debates when it comes to ranking NHL players and future stars, you never really come across goalie rankings.
Maybe because it is next to impossible to quantify and compare goalies, or maybe its because the names at the top of the statistical leaderboards drastically differ from season-to-season.
Nonetheless, it makes for an interesting debate, and as you'll see below, the lists are all over the place, with only a few common trends.
To try and get to the bottom of this debate, 23 die-hard hockey fans were polled, each providing their own list of the Top 10 NHL goalies.
A collection of Leafs fans, Hawks fans, Bruins fans, Blues fans, Lightning fans, etc, everyone put their biases and vendettas aside to rank their own Top 10 NHL goalies.
Each participant was asked the same question... team doesn't matter, age doesn't matter, contract doesn't matter... "simply" rank the Top 10 NHL goalies in order, if you were attempting to win next season.
If the question was "at the moment" you would likely have found the likes of Darcy Kuemper, Tristan Jarry, and Jacob Markstrom more prevalent whilst Carey Price and Sergei Bobrovsky may have not shown up due to their down seasons.
The individual lists themselves are not shown below, to protect some of the more peculiar rankings (you know who you are) but rather there is data analysis provided, diving into each of the different goalies that were named throughout the polling.
Keep in mind, there were vast differences in people's rankings, and no two people had the exact same list.
As you can see depicted above, there were some very different opinions as to who the Top 10 are, as there were 21 different goalies named.
Only 3 goalies made each of the 23 participant's rankings, perfectly illustrating the vast array of responses.
Looking at the right side of the graph, you can see a few veteran netminders whom people still perceive as strong goaltenders, as well as a few of this seasons' breakout stars, winning the hearts of some voters.
However, the difficult with this graph is that it is simply the number of times that each goalie was voted for, thus not showing how they compare to one another based off the position in which they were ranked. For example, Ben Bishop received the 5th most total votes, yet didn't receive a single 1st place vote.
Thus, below is a weighted comparison of each netminder. In which, a 1st place vote was worth 10 points, a 2nd worth 9, and so on and so forth until a goalie was unranked, in which they received 0 points.
While a good portion of the order stayed the same, there were some slight changes that happened when weighting the votes by ranking.
Vasilevskiy's dominance is on display, whilst the other 2 goalies who made everyone's lists, Binnington and Rask, stayed ahead of the pack but made no ground on Vasilevskiy.
John Gibson gained some ground on Connor Hellebuyck and beat him by 1 point, largely due to Gibson's 3 first place votes.
Despite Frederik Andersen receiving 15 votes to Braden Holtby's 11, Holtby surpassed him in points, with 1 second place vote and several mid-pack votes, despite each of them receiving 2 third place votes.
Bobrovsky remained just a hair outside the Top 10, yet still separated himself from the rest of the pack.
Darcy Kuemper was able to climb from tied for 14th to 12th, largely in part due to a 1 fourth place and 1 sixth place vote.
The bottom 6 vote getters changed order a bit, but none increased enough to catch up to the rest of the pack.
As I mentioned earlier, no two people had the same list, yet when totalling up the votes and weighting the rankings, both graphs above show the same Top 10 goalies, despite slightly different orders.
So to dive in a little deeper, here are each of the alleged Top 10 NHL Goalies's votes broken-down, in weighted order.
While Vasilevskiy was the runaway champ when looking at weighted rankings, this graph shows some people weren't as high on the reigning Vezina winner.
Vasilevskiy received 203 of a possible 230 points, 62 points ahead of the next highest goalie.
Many people regard Vasilevskiy as the most complete goalie in the NHL, and these rankings illustrate that. However, Vasilevskiy currently does not rank inside the Top 10 in Goals Against Average Save Percentage or Shutouts this year.
A common theme that was voiced to me was that his numbers are inflated by how good Tampa is, hence why he currently leads the league in wins with 35, or 5 more than Binnington in second place.
However, that's a little too cynical for my taste, and even though I personally ranked Vasilevskiy second, no one can argue that he is one of, if not the best in the world.
One of only 3 goalies to be named on everyone's list, it is hard to argue that Rask deserves to be right near the top of the charts.
Despite only receiving 2 first place votes (hard to get too many more when Vasilevskiy gets 13) Rask was a mainstay in the top 5, with 16 top 5 votes.
Rask has been great again this year, sitting second in GAA with a 2.18 and sixth in SV% with a .926%.
Despite only winning 1 Vezina along the way, Tuukka has been a playoff machine and a steady presence in the Bruins net for the better part of a decade, and deserves to be up as high as he is on this last.
One of the names that I assumed would be most polarizing heading into this poll was Jordan Binnington, yet he turned up on everyone's list and received 7 third place votes.
After being given the St. Louis net last winter, the former OHL Champion has never looked back, winning the Stanley Cup last year, and following it up by being second in wins at the moment.
Again, maybe a great team has influenced his numbers and his public perception, but make no mistake that Binnington is an elite netminder who is as positionally-sound as anyone and is phased by nothing.
It feels like Flower has been around the league forever, yet the flashy-Frenchman is still getting it done.
Sitting sixth in wins, despite a cold-streak midseason, Fleury has been solid again this year for the Golden Knights. He sits second in shutouts with 5, and is still making the acrobatic diving saves we've come to expect from Flower.
Despite going unranked 3 times, Fleury still got 1 first place vote, and enough middle-of-the-pack love to stay fourth in both total votes and weighted votes.
Coming fifth place in both total votes and weighted votes, Bishop is the first goalie we've discussed to not receive a first place vote, yet enough people had him in the top 6 to carry him.
Another polarizing figure in net, Bishop has never really gotten the credit he's deserved. We all hear about how defensively-sound the Stars are, but lets not brush over the fact that Bishop sits eleventh in both GAA and SV% along with a 21-15-4 record, despite Dallas having an atrocious first month of the season.
Ben Bishop has been sneakily-spectacular for many years, despite some rough slides, but personally I was glad to see him end up top 5, as he's the kind of guy that can straight up steal you games.
And here we have it, Carey Price, maybe the most interesting yet perplexing ranking of them all.
Despite being a shade of the Price that we've seen in the past, the question kept being asked: "how much is on him and how much is on his team?" Since we were looking past teams and simply ranking the best goalies, Price ended up getting some pretty high votes.
3 firsts, 5 seconds, no thirds, and 4 unranked is quite the varying list, showing that no one really can agree on what exactly Carey Price is today, yet he still finished sixth in both total votes and weighted votes.
Some people stated that he would Team Canada's goalie at the moment, while others (included myself) didn't put him on this list because he has seen his numbers decrease for several years now.
One thing is for sure with Price, and that's that no one is sure.
Right up there with Price for most perplexing goalie is John Gibson, who received at least 1 vote in every spot except 10th, while also going unranked 6 times.
A few people had double or even triple takes when I told them Gibson was ranked number 1 on my personal list, yet 2 other people agreed with me so I suppose I'm not (totally) insane.
John Gibson has some pretty underwhelming numbers this year. As well, despite the fact we were ignoring teams when ranking the goalies, it is hard to say that Gibson's numbers aren't impacted by playing for a bad team, the same as some people feel Vasilevskiy's are boosted.
Despite a .904 SV% this year, Gibson has a career .918 SV%, including going 3 consecutive years with a SV% over .920 with 3 trips to the playoffs and a Conference Finals appearance during his first 3 full seasons.
While the votes speak for themselves, and I'm here to dissect the numbers not preach you my beliefs, I'll end this section by saying that if John Gibson played for any of the teams that our top 3 ranked goalies play for, he'd be even more of a perennial Vezina candidate.
Connor Hellebuyck is yet another interesting goalie, as he received at least 1 vote in every spot except 1st, along with going unranked 5 times.
He sits third in wins, first in total saves, and first in shutouts this year, and if goalies were given the MVP more regularly, Hellebuyck might be right up there in the Hart conversation.
A big yet dynamic goaltender, Hellebuyck received 18 votes to Gibson's 17, yet was passed in weighted votes (due to my Gibson essay above).
Nonetheless, we will be hearing a ton about this guy in the future, as he has become a star north of the border and will be representing the states south of the border (alongside Gibson) if the NHL ever realizes how important the Olympics are.
This is where the tiers of goalies really fell off, as all of the previously goalies excluding Vasilevskiy were within about 50 points of one-another, whilst the drop from Hellebuyck to Holtby itself was about 40 points.
Holtby when unranked 12 times, so literally over 50% of the time, yet 1 second place vote and 2 third place votes kept him afloat (2 of which came from Leafs fans nonetheless).
While he has certainly taken a step back this year, and at times lost starts to the young stud Ilya Samsonov, let's not discount the netminder Holtby can be.
He won the Vezina in 15-16, finishing fourth in the Hart as well, followed by finishing second in the Vezina the following year, and winning the Stanley Cup after that.
Holtby would be right in mix for Team Canada if there were a team coming up, and he is going to get PAID this summer regardless of his recent slumps.
Frederik Andersen had 15 total votes as opposed to Holtby's 11 total votes, yet was passed in the weighted votes due to a cluster of low-ranking votes.
To be honest, I was worried Leafs fans would boost his rank he, but I've got to give them credit based off their votes.
While at times he can be one of the more dominant goalies in hockey, I liked that he had a bunch of low-ranking votes, illustrating that his consistency is an issue yet most people can agree the talent is there.
One of his third place votes came from a Bruins fan, so it's nice to see everyone getting along, and overall I think it is pretty fair that he cracked the top 10 in the last spot.
The Rest Of The Pack
The other 11 goalies I did not create graphs for as none of them received enough high-ranking votes to provide any interesting points.
Sergei Bobrovsky was the victim of his own numbers this season, as he ended about 15 points outside the Top 10 but also about 15 points above the other 10 goalies named by participants.
Darcy Kuemper made some noise, and a lot of people who didn't rank him cited his injuries as the main reason they didn't pick him, as the Coyotes netminders has had a great year and has turned into one of the analytical-darlings around the league.
Carter Hart, Robin Lehner, and Jacob Markstrom make up the next tier before the points fall off again. All 3 of them have been superb this year, but I think sample size got the best of them in the minds of the voters. Hart will undoubtedly be a problem for opposing teams for years to come, Lehner has shown his worth as a Vezina candidate last year and a solid year currently, yet playing a tandem role doesn't give him the numbers I suppose. Markstrom has been Vancouver's MVP and they have seriously missed him whilst he's out with injury, and it'll be interesting to see if they keep him despite having Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro coming up soon.
Overall, I guess the moral of the story is we really don't know how to evaluate goalies year-to-year. So much of their numbers is dependent on their teams, way more than forward's or defensemen's numbers depend on their teams. Ovechkin would still score on the Sabres, because that's what he's good at. On the flip side, Price saves pucks for the Habs, because that's what he's good at, yet he doesn't get wins partially because of the team.
This was very fun to conduct and despite the fact that no two people had the exact same list, it's cool to see the weighted votes graph where their is a clear Top 10 goalies overall, even if we can't agree on the order!