NHL: The best goalie from each franchise’s history (Updated 2023)

NHL (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images/NHLI)
NHL (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images/NHLI) /
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New York Islanders, Billy Smith
New York Islanders, Billy Smith (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Best NHL goalie from each franchise: New York Islanders – Billy Smith

All it takes is an opportunity elsewhere whenever your name is selected in an NHL Expansion Draft and something extraordinary can occur. Such is the case with goalie Billy Smith who, back in 1972, was drafted by the New York Islanders in that year’s Expansion Draft from the Los Angeles Kings. The rest is NHL history as Smith went on to become one of the best goalies of all time.

With the Islanders, Smith won four straight Stanley Cup championships in the early 80s where everything fell right into place. Smith averaged a .894 career save percentage as watching him do what he did best always captivated hockey fans everywhere. He was so fluid in his movement that the way he pulled off his saves was so much fun to watch.

Of course, for all the greatness Smith accomplished, he was a fierce competitor in that opposing teams knew that once he got into a mood, his temper would flare up where it would be quite intimidating. During the 80s, many stories were told that Smith always kept interactions and conversations focused on hockey games and nothing else. Nobody knew his hobbies, his favorite kind of music, nothing. It was all about who the next opponent was and what needed to get done to win.

Smith will also go down in NHL history as the first goalie to ever score a goal and when he retired in 1989, everyone knew he’d be a future Hockey Hall of Famer. Not only did he achieve that in 1993 but the Islanders did the right thing and promptly retired his iconic No. 31 that very same year.