Three surprising Backup Goaltenders in the NHL in 2020-21

Kevin Lankinen #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Kevin Lankinen #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Alex Nedeljkovic (39)
Alex Nedeljkovic #39 of the Carolina Hurricanes. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Honorable Mentions

While the three goalies mentioned in the previous slides have all established themselves as elite backups throughout the 2020-21 NHL season so far, there are a few other names worth mentioning too…

Alex Nedeljkovic – Carolina Hurricanes

With Petr Mrazek having been sidelined with a thumb injury since the beginning of February, James Reimer and rookie Alex Nedeljkovic have been steering the ship just fine. The Hurricanes currently sit second in the Central Division with a 22-7-3 record and the play from both of these goaltenders has been quite impressive. In 17 games played Reimer is 12-4-1 and in 12 games played, Nedeljkovic is 8-2-2 with two shutouts.

There’s a very good argument to be made that Nedeljkovic should just move into the backup position and Reimer should remain as the starter for the foreseeable future, and the Canes have made it clear that they would be interested in trading one of their three netminders at the Trade Deadline.

Chris Driedger – Florida Panthers

Chris Driedger began the season in goal for the Florida Panthers in place of two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who was on the “unfit to play list.” Now of course, when Bobrovsky was fit to play, the No. 1 goaltender in the Sunshine State has been better this season with a 12-5-2 record to go along with a .902 Save Percentage and a 2.92 Goals Against Average.

And behind Bobrovsky, is Driedger with a 8-4-2 record. Driedger is playing the best hockey of his young career and he is on pace so far to play more games this season than he has in his career combined.

Driedger currently holds a .923 Save Percentage and a 2.28 Goals Against Average. The Panthers are third in the Central Division with a 20-9-4 record.

Ilya Sorokin – New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are locked in an intense battle with the Washington Capitals for first place in the East Division, and aside from their gritty play in open-ice, they currently hold a lethal goaltending tandem to go along with it. Their starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov is 14-6-3 in 23 games this year with a .923 Save Percentage and a 2.20 Goals Against Average.

Next. Canadiens in win-now mode with Staal addition. dark

Backing him up is rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who entered the National Hockey League with a lot of hype and a lot of fanfare. The No. 78 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has been on a tear. Since losing his first two starts in regulation and his third start in an overtime loss, Sorokin has won his last eight games and he’s helping the New York Islanders to maintain an elite goalie tandem.