It’s extremely August in the hockey world to be upset about an arbitrary ranking that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But Frederik Andersen not being included in the recent Top-10 Goalies list put out by NHL Network is absurd.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 26, 2019
Looking through the list, there’s certainly plenty of arguments to be made. Shuffling positions and rankings to correlate more to what should be the correct order for the best goaltenders in the league today, but there are some players that should have not been left out entirely.
Of course, goalies are historically one of the least predictable positions and getting a sense for their talent is a difficult task, but there’s certain ways to do exactly that. Maybe not as precise as skaters, but close enough to not make yourself look like a complete fool and give someone a top spot just because they won a trophy.
According to Hockey Reference, there is more than simple save percentage or goals against average to judge your goaltender — the latter having nothing to do with individual talent, but whatever. There is of course Quality Starts, which are counted when a goaltender ends a start with a higher save percentage than league average, or at least holds a .885 sv% in a game with fewer than 20 shots on goal against.
In that category, Andersen tied with Devan Dubnyk for the most quality starts among all goaltenders in the league last season. With 38 QS to his name, the Leafs’ goaltender was heavily relied on to provide stability in net and did exactly that for 60 starts.
For a less convoluted way of determining whether a goaltender was important to his team — and therefore a top goalie in the league — there’s straight up Goalie Point Shares, produced by Hockey Reference as well. Essentially demonstrating how many points that goaltender contributed to his team in the standings, making them more successful with than without the player.
For Andersen, again, he tied with the league lead in this category, but now with Carey Price, with Andersen playing six less games than the Habs netminder. At 12.5 GPS, Andersen was 0.1 above the supposed best goaltender on the planet Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Taking into consideration how much Andersen played and how heavy a workload he had — facing almost 2000 shots on goal against — definitely was not in the mind of whoever made this list. When Jordan Binnington can ride the wave for 30 regular season starts and win a ring on a talented St. Louis Blues team and then get his name on this list, is just weird and short-sighted. Just last year he was destined for another AHL stint with a different team, being loaned out to another organization that needed minor-league goaltending, but because he caught fire for a few months, he’s now listed above some established goaltenders — not even to mention Hall of Fame-bound Henrik Lundqvist not even touching this list.
This list doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t really need to. Every off-season the NHL Network produces their top players by position and there is always some asinine decision to leave out a centre like Sean Couturier or a winger like Vladimir Tarasenko, just because of recency bias.
When Andersen is in net for another 60 starts and has slightly better boxscore stats for the talking heads to praise him for, then maybe he’ll get noticed around the league more. For now, he’s going to bring this defence kicking and screaming into wins that might not be fully deserved.
Maybe if he was terrible and then got really good last year he would be noticed.