Ranking Goalies By Wins


With Martin Brodeur setting the all-time record for wins, the question of whether he is one of the greats or the greatest goaltender of all time has come to the fore of late. I’m not going to answer that question because frankly I don’t think we have a decent statistical measure to compare goaltenders of different generations, and I haven’t spent the last eighty years watching all of the contenders.

Tom Awad of Puck Prospectus is using a complex statistical measure called GVT to rank goaltenders down through history, but leaving aside whether or not his measure is especially effective, I wanted to note one paragraph that he wrote in his article:

When analyzing a goaltender using GVT, the primary contribution of the goaltender is to block shots; wins, shutouts and similar statistics receive no weighting, nor should they. To those who insist on ranking goaltenders by Wins, Shutouts or Stanley Cups, I answer this: Hasek, 389 wins, 1 Stanley Cup (as a #1 goalie); Osgood, 386 wins, 2 Stanley Cups. Nothing against Osgood, but are these really equivalent goaltenders?

There’s a tendency in sports to judge players by championships; Dominik Hasek, for all of his achievements, was often criticized prior to 2002 because people said, “sure, he’s a great goaltender – but he’s never proven he can win it all.”

It’s a garbage argument.

On a 23-man roster, how much impact does one player, even the starting goaltender, have on the results of his team? Olli Jokinen, for example, has yet to appear in a playoff game – is that because he’s a loser or because he’s spent his career playing for the Islanders and Panthers? Roberto Luongo has been a full-time NHL goaltender for eight seasons and during that span he’s never had a save percentage lower than .914. Despite that, he has appeared in the playoffs only once – is it because he lacks the fundamental character to win, or because he has played for lousy teams? I think the answer is obvious.

So congratulations to Martin Brodeur for his 552 wins; it’s an incredible mark and in part a result of being an exceptional goaltender. At the same time, it’s more a result of playing for a consistently good New Jersey team for the bulk of his career; there’s no way he would have reached that mark if he’d spent his career with the Islanders or Panthers.

  • Martin Brodeur is currently ONE of the best goaltenders, based on NHL rules, he used a crutch to surpass the next GM of the Montreal Canadiens – Sir Patrick.

    Partick Roy has 131 ties to his record.
    Source – hockeydb – http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=4688

    Roy did not have the NHL parity format of overtime wins to keep poor performing teams in the playoff race till March.

    Given a 50% basis (win – loss), Marty has to win 66 more games to bring out the scissors and cut the net for ebay revenue.

    Better tell Mr. Denis Brodeur to put his camera away until late next season. Sorry Pops – this aint no record without the asterisk – with the help from league office.

    This slow race to the playoffs will not be reviewed by the league as parity breeds revenue…. how about 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for an overtime win, and 1 point for an overtime win. By not rewarding the tie at any point (ot or shootout loser gets nothing), you will have teams making the offensive to win in regulation. No points for losers.

  • That's incredibly lame Willis. The reason most people in the West don't recognize that Brodeur is one of the best all time is because we don't see him often. You can't discount the fact that throughout his career his equipment didn't balloon up, much like Roy's did in the early 90s.

    Yes he's playing on a consitently great team in NJ, but then that same argument would mean that Chris Osgood should be creeping up on that record too. He spent the better chunk of his career with Detroit, but he's no where close to the wins total.

    Aside from this year, Brodeur has rarely been hurt and that I believe can be attributed to his conditioning and game preparation. Here's some stats for you Willis. In the past two years (not counting this year, and since Luongo has been with Vancouver) Brodeur and Luongo have had very similar shots against totals while in average Brodeur still has a better save percentage.

    Brodeur also beats Luongo in practically all statistical catagories including wins, and shut outs. In fact Luongo and Brodeur have let in the exact same amount of goals in those two seasons even though Brodeur got more shots.