Top 10 of the 2010s: Goaltenders

The series concludes with netminders

Hello again, it’s been a fun week as we conclude the top 10 series with easily the most unpredictable position - the goaltenders. The Sabres went from a perennial top-end backstop, to a second round pick who seemed the next in line, to a serious revolving door in net that amounted to 18 different goalies receiving playing time in the decade.

Obviously, these rankings are a little different than the previous ones this week, as weighing the goaltending statistics required a different method. For this, I referenced Evolving Wild’s goals above replacement as well as my own algorithm for the position. The minimum amount of games played to be considered was set at 10, with all due respect to Jonas Johansson, Jason Kasdorf, Connor Knapp, Nathan Lieuwen, Drew MacIntyre, Andrey Makarov, and Adam Wilcox, leaving a total of 11.

I sorted the goalies into an “Overall” rank only, and included each of the top 10’s best seasons to reminisce upon. This is slightly different than what I did with the centers, left wingers, right wingers, and defensemen.

As a special bonus, I included a graphic for the complete ranking of the qualifying skaters and goaltenders, separately, with each of their seasons played highlighted.

I hope you enjoyed the series and the trip down memory lane. Without further ado, onto the goaltenders:

10 - Chad Johnson

Best season - 2015-2016

Johnson had such a good showing in his first season with the Sabres, he was brought back after a one year hiatus from the club. That decision did not pay off for the team, as his save percentage dipped from 92.06% to 89.27%. Even worse, he let in a decade-worst 24.88 goals above expected in his second stint.

9 - Robin Lehner

Best season - 2015-2016

Upon leaving Buffalo, Lehner was the first to admit his time with the Sabres did not go as expected. He immediately entered the NHL’s substance abuse program, and has thankfully since seemed to have fought off the demons. His performance on the ice dipped each year he stayed with the club, allowing a total of 16.66 goals above expected in his final season.

8 - Patrick Lalime

Best season - 2009-2010

Brought in more for his personality and locker room presence than for his play, Lalime did not see the crease much. When he did, however, he fared pretty well, posting statistics nearly in-line with league averages.

7 - Carter Hutton

Best season - 2018-2019

Hutton is a tough goalie to figure out. He came to the club after posting top tier numbers as a backup. Expanding his playing time has not amounted to any sort of payoff, however, as he’s let in over 13 goals above expected per season. There are stretches, like the undefeated streak at the beginning of this past season, where he leaves you scratching your head wondering why he cannot be more consistent.

6 - Linus Ullmark

Best season - 2019-2020

It’s not exactly that Ullmark has stole the starter’s role from Hutton, rather, the team was left with no option but to hand it to him. With much better rebound control, Ullmark has posted fairly average stats in his NHL time. It is possible there’s another leap of progression left in him, as goalies can unpredictably go on runs, but the Sabres should probably target another quality option to at least join him as a tandem.

5 - Anders Lindback

Best season - 2014-2015

An afterthought of an acquisition, Lindback notoriously outperformed expectation during a time when the team was set up to fail. Although he barely qualified at 16 games, his 92.58% save percentage was something that would be interesting to see if he could sustain if given the opportunity to stay.

4 - Jhonas Enroth

Best season - 2011-2012

It’s hard to say Enroth didn’t get a fair shake, as he played 118 games for the Sabres, but it never seemed like he was fully handed the reins as a starter. The season that seemed to be his shot to claim the job, he was shipped to Dallas with a rebuild in mind. When all was said and done, Enroth’s average save percentage was over 91% with the club.

3 - Anders Nilsson

Best season - 2016-2017

Nilsson was brought in as Lehner’s backup for one season and was a reclamation project, of sorts. Whatever happened that season just clicked, and, if it wasn’t for the Sabres trying to justify giving up a first round pick for Lehner, Nilsson probably should’ve received more starts. In his 26 games played, he saved a whopping 10.84 goals above expected.

2 - Michal Neuvirth

Best season - 2014-2015

Neuvirth’s acquisition is almost remembered more for it’s comical nature, where the Sabres acquired Jaroslav Halak in the Ryan Miller trade, dressed him as a backup for a game, and then flipped him for Neuvirth. His time manning the crease for the Sabres was seriously good, though, posting a save percentage over 92%.

1 - Ryan Miller

Best season - 2009-2010

First overall in net comes as no surprise, as Miller is the team’s all-time wins leader. With a tenure spanning portions of two decades, his performance reached it’s peak by the time 2010 rolled around. In the 2009-2010 season, Miller’s 25.08 goals saved above expected not only won him the Vezina Trophy, but also fourth in Hart Trophy voting as well.

Not mentioned:

Matt Hackett (11th overall)

Other position rankings:


Left Wingers

Right Wingers


If the poll below is not showing up on your newsreader, please click here to go vote.

Who would you rank as the Sabres best goalie of the decade?

Ryan Miller202
Michal Neuvirth1
Anders Nilsson2
Jhonas Enroth7