How do you measure the most valuable goalies in the NHL? Save percentage and goals-against average are certainly popular, and the Vezina Trophy is supposed to be the final word on that question at the end of the season.
But what if we considered the actual cost of goalie performance? Earlier this season, I took a look at what you’d pay each NHL goalie to produce a Goal Saved Above Average based on the per-game rates.
As the season has gone on, I thought it would be fun to look at who the overall leaders are and, by extension, which goalies are providing the most value to their teams. If you don’t have to pay a ton to prevent goals, that allows you to make investments elsewhere.
Most analytics people will tell you never to overpay for goaltending, and there are more than a handful of teams that have, to their detriment, done so in an extreme way. You won’t find those goalies in the chart below – I’ve only included guys who are above water in GSAA and who’ve made at least 10 appearances so far.
Since GSAA accumulates over the course of the season, the cost goes down the more a goalie plays, assuming he maintains the same pace of performance. Goalies who are paid more are expected to play more, so they have an opportunity to keep pushing that number down as the games go on, but as you’ll see, it’s tough for big ticket netminders to really climb the chart here.
I’m not claiming this is a perfect method by any means, but I do think it’s interesting to see to what extent teams are benefitting from cheap goaltending.
OK, so let’s take a look at who the most valuable goalies in the NHL are this season. You can sort the table below by clicking on the headers.