Being an NHL Goaltender is a unique position. At any given second things can change for your team. A handful of players skating in your direction with the intention of making you silly as they attempt to hit the puck in the back of your net.
As much as we say hockey is a team game when it comes to the goalies, they can feel as though they are on an island by themselves. The excuses at the end of the day are inconsequential as they are oftentimes the main person to blame for a team’s failures or successes.
There have been several great goaltenders in the NHL. But too often is the debate focused on who is the best to ever play the position. For that, we’ve decided to end any further fulmination.
Picking and choosing the 30 greatest goalies of all time was a difficult process. Many of these guys are similar in terms of numbers but more times than not, it was a slight edge in numbers, awards, and overall impact that separated them. They’ve all had their moment in the sun at some point but who’s star shined brightest when the spotlight was firmly on them?
To answer this, we plunge deep into the numbers and their overall impact to see who stood out amongst their peers.
Let’s dive right into it.
Editor’s Note: Updated for the 2022/2023 NHL season
NHL: 30 best goalies of all time: 30. Harry Lumley
- 90.5 save percentage
- 2.74 GAA
- 330 wins
- 2-time All-Star
- Stanley Cup champion
Life came at Harry Lumley fast. And on the professional hockey rink, even faster. At the age of 17, Harry Lumley still holds the NHL record as the youngest player to ever play in an actual game. Things didn’t go well for him early on. In his first season with the Detroit Red Wings, Lumley played a grand total of two games and it isn’t difficult to see why, both contests resulted in losses and Lumley gave up over six goals. It was much of the same in year two.
But while he struggled to find his footing on an NHL hockey rink early on, Lumley finally picked up on the speed of the game and began shutting teams down. In 1950, Lumley was all grown up and played like it. He led the Red Wings to a win in the Stanley Cup Finals and dominated all throughout the playoffs. Lumley had a Goal Against Average (GAA) of 1.85 and put together three shutout performances.
From there, Lumley only got better and better. For three straight seasons in the late 1940s, less than three goals per game were scored against him. He was even more dominant in the 50s as he put together seven straight seasons with less than three goals against him, including back-to-back years of sub-2.00.
In addition to his Stanley Cup, Lumley also has a Vezina trophy to his name and three All-Star appearances. His overall dominance lands him safely on this list.