A reliable goalie can be a huge difference-maker for any NHL team, but the best hockey goalies of all-time took that responsibility to the next level. They exemplified greatness every time they took the ice and were consistently putting their team in a position to win – which they did often.
When looking at the best hockey goalies of all-time, you have to go back in time to appreciate all the best hockey goalies from the early years of the NHL. With the history of the NHL dating back to 1917, you have to dig deep to truly find the best hockey goalies we’ve ever seen.
Some of them spent 10+ years in the NHL, while others didn’t quite hit that mark – which is why purely looking at stats doesn’t always tell the whole story. Those with 10+ years in the league might have better stats, but that doesn’t always mean they’re better than other hockey goalies.
Who Are the Best Hockey Goalies of All-Time?
When you hear the names Mike Richter, Henrik Lundqvist, Roberto Luongo, and Curtis Joseph, you might think they’re no-brainers to be included on the list of the best hockey goalies of all-time – especially if that list includes 20 goalies! Well, that might not be the case here.
Each of those four players are in the top-10 of goalie wins all-time and while they’re considered four of the best hockey goalies of all-time, they aren’t found on our list below. The history of the NHL runs too deep and there are simply too many hockey goalies that deserve recognition.
With that said, let’s take a look at 20 of the best hockey goalies in NHL history. These are the goalies that helped pave the way for all the best hockey goalies we see today. They were a joy to witness and always put a show on for the fans. Who do you think cracked the coveted list?
20. Frank Brimsek
Frank Brimsek played 10 seasons in the NHL – nine with the Boston Bruins and one with the Chicago Black Hawks. He finished his career with a 252-182-80 record in 514 regular season games and a 32-36 record in 68 playoff games. He allowed 2.70 goals per game in his career.
Brimsek was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966. He won two Stanley Cups with the Bruins in 1939 and 1941, was a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, a Calder Memorial Trophy winner, and an eight-time All-Star – he was selected as an All-Star in each of his first eight NHL seasons.
19. Clint Benedict
Clint Benedict played 13 seasons in the NHL – seven with the Ottawa Senators and six with the Montreal Maroons. He finished his career with a 189-142-28 career record in 362 regular season games and an 11-12-5 record in 28 playoff games. He allowed 2.32 goals per game.
Benedict led the league in wins six years in a row between 1918 and 1926. After a disappointing first season with Montreal, he tallied 78 wins over the next four seasons. He won the Stanley Cup three times in 1921, 1923, and 1926 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.
18. Bill Durnan
Bill Durnan played just seven years in the NHL – all with the Montreal Canadiens – but he made the most of his time in the league. He finished his career with a 208-112-62 record in 383 regular season games (2.36 goals against) and a 27-18 record in 45 playoff games (2.07 GAA).
Despite playing just seven seasons, Durnan was a six-time Vezina Trophy winner and helped lead the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup victory in 1944 and 1946. The only season he didn’t win the Vezina was in 1947-48, but he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964.
17. Tony Esposito
Tony Esposito played 16 seasons in the NHL – 15 with the Chicago Blackhawks and one with the Montreal Canadiens. He finished his career with a 423-306-152 record in 886 regular season games (2.93 goals against average) and a 45-53 record in 99 playoff games (3.09 GAA).
Esposito was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988. He was the Calder Memorial Trophy winner during the 1969-70 season, a six-time All-Star, and a three-time Vezina Trophy winner (1970, 1972, 1974). He had eight seasons with at least 30 wins and had 74 career shutouts.
16. Ed Belfour
Ed Belfour played 17 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, and Florida Panthers. He finished with a 484-320-125 record in 963 regular season games (2.50 GAA) and 88-68 record in 161 playoff games (2.17 GAA).
Belfour was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. He was the 1990-91 Calder Memorial Trophy winner, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, a four-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner, and five-time All-Star. He also helped lead the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup victory in 1999.
15. Turk Broda
Turk Broda played 14 seasons in the NHL – all with the Toronto Maple Leafs – between 1936 and 1952. He finished his career with a 304-222-102 record in 629 regular season games (2.53 GAA) and a 60-39-1 record in 101 playoff games (1.98 GAA). He was a playoff nightmare.
Broda was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967. He won the Vezina Trophy in 1941 and 1948, was a four-time All-Star, and helped lead the Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cup victories – including three consecutive in 1947, 1948, and 1949. Broda had 24 playoff wins in that stretch.
14. Grant Fuhr
Grant Fuhr played 19 seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings, and Calgary Flames. He finished with a 403-295-114 regular season record (3.38 GAA) and a 92-50 playoff record (2.92 GAA).
Fuhr, a former eighth overall draft pick, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. He was a William M. Jennings Trophy winner, Vezina Trophy winner, two-time All-Star, and four-time Stanley Cup champion in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988 – going back to back on two occasions.
13. Johnny Bower
Johnny Bower played 15 seasons in the NHL – 12 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and three with the New York Rangers. He finished his career with a 250-192-90 regular season record (2.51 GAA) and a 35-34 playoff record (2.47 GAA). He had a .922 save percentage and 37 shutouts.
Bower was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976. He was a two-time Vezina Trophy winner in 1961 and 1965, as well as a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Maple Leafs – including three consecutive between 1962 and 1964, and again in 1967. He was also a four-time All-Star.
12. Georges Vezina
Georges Vezina played nine seasons in the NHL – all with the Montreal Canadiens – before being diagnosed with tuberculosis and passing away in 1926. He finished his career with a 103-81-5 regular season record (3.28 GAA) and a 10-3 playoff record (1.32 GAA).
Vezina was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945. Every year since his sudden death, the goalie with the lowest goals against average for the season has been awarded the Vezina Trophy in his honor. Since 1981, the trophy has been awarded to the most outstanding goalie.
11. Carey Price
Carey Price was the fifth overall draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2005 and has been with the team ever since. During his 15-year career so far, he has a 361-261-79 regular season record (2.51 GAA) and a 43-45 playoff record (2.39 GAA). He won 44 games in 2014-15.
Price should be a future Hall of Fame player when he decides to retire. His incredible 44-win season earned him the Lindsay, Vezina, Jennings, and Hart trophies. He posted at least 30 wins five times in his career and at least 20 wins 10 times in his career. He has 49 career shutouts.
10. Bernie Parent
Bernie Parent played 13 seasons in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished his career with a 271-198-119 regular season record (2.55 GAA) and a 38-33 playoff record (2.44 GAA). He had 54 career shutouts and nine assists.
Parent was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. He won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1974 and 1975. During those two seasons, he won a total of 91 games with 24 shutouts and was awarded the Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe trophy each season.
9. Vladislav Tretiak
Vladislav Tretiak never played in the NHL, but he was a force in the Soviet Union – where he played 482 games for CSKA Moscow in the Soviet League. During a 14-year stretch with the team, he helped lead them to 13 league titles and won the MVP award five times in that time.
Tretiak was also a force in international play. Representing the Soviet Union, he made four consecutive Olympics appearances – winning three gold medals and one silver medal. He also helped lead them to 10 gold, 2 silver, and one bronze medal at the World Championships.
8. Glenn Hall
Glenn Hall spent 18 seasons in the NHL – 10 with the Chicago Blackhawks, four with the Detroit Red Wings, and four with the St. Louis Blues. He finished his career with a 407-326-164 regular season record (2.50 GAA) with 84 shutouts and a 49-65 playoff record (2.79 GAA).
Hall was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1956, helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup title in 1961, and was a three-time Vezina Trophy winner. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy for his excellence during the title run.
7. Marc-Andre Fleury
Marc-Andre Fleury was the first overall draft pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2003 and spent 13 seasons with the team. He has since played for the Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks, and Minnesota Wild. He has a 520-299-87 regular season record (2.57 GAA).
Fleury has won three Stanley Cup titles with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including two consecutive in 2016 and 2017. He has a 92-73 record in the playoffs (2.54 GAA). He’s a future Hall of Famer who finally won his first Vezina Trophy with the Golden Knights during the 2020-21 season.
6. Ken Dryden
Ken Dryden played just eight seasons in the NHL – all with the Montreal Canadiens – but he made the most of those years. He finished his career with a 258-57-74 regular season record (2.24 GAA) with 46 shutouts and an 80-32 playoff record (2.41 GAA) with 10 shutouts.
Dryden was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. He was a six-time Stanley Cup champion, including four consecutive between 1976 and 1979. He was also a five-time Vezina Trophy winner, one-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and one-time Calder Memorial Trophy winner.
5. Terry Sawchuk
Terry Sawchuk played 21 seasons in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Rangers. He finished his career with a 445-336-171 regular season record (2.50 GAA) and a 54-47 playoff record (2.53 GAA).
Sawchuk was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971. He was a four-time Stanley Cup champion – three with the Red Wings and one with the Maple Leafs – and four-time Vezina Trophy winner, including back-to-back in 1952 and 1953. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1951.
4. Martin Brodeur
Martin Brodeur played 22 seasons in the NHL – 21 with the New Jersey Devils and one with the St. Louis Blues. He finished his career with a 691-397-154 regular season record (2.24 GAA) with 125 shutouts and a 113-91 playoff record (2.02 GAA) with 24 playoff shutouts.
Brodeur was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. He helped lead the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles in 1995, 2000, and 2003. He was a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and five-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner. He had 13 seasons of at least 30 wins in his career.
3. Jacques Plante
Jacques Plante played 18 seasons in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, and Boston Bruins. He finished his career with a 437-246-145 regular season record (2.38 GAA) and a 71-36 playoff record (2.12 GAA).
Plante was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978. He led the Canadiens to six Stanley Cup titles, including five straight between 1956 and 1960. He was also a seven-time Vezina Trophy winner (five-straight between 1956 and 1960) and won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1962.
2. Dominik Hasek
Dominik Hasek was just the 199th overall draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983, but would go on to have a Hall of Fame career that lasted 16 seasons. He finished his career with a 389-223-95 regular season record (2.20 GAA) and a 65-49 playoff record (2.02 GAA).
Hasek helped lead the Detroit Red Wings to two Stanley Cup titles in 2002 and 2008. He was a six-time Vezina Trophy winner, two-time Ted Lindsay Trophy winner, two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner, and three-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner. He had 81 career shutouts.
1. Patrick Roy
Patrick Roy was the 51st overall draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 1984 and would go on to play 19 seasons in the NHL – 11.5 with the Canadiens and 7.5 with the Colorado Avalanche. He had a 551-315-131 regular season record (2.54 GAA) and 151-95 playoff record (2.30 GAA).
Roy was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. He was a four-time Stanley Cup champion – two with the Canadiens and two with the Avalanche. He was also a three-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, three-time Vezina Trophy winner, and five-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner.
Who Are the Best Hockey Goalies Today?
Goalies are extremely important to an NHL team’s success. Without a quality and reliable goalie, you better be prepared to score at least four goals per game to give yourself a chance at winning. Otherwise, you’ll be playing catch-up most of the game – which never ends well.
Some of the best hockey goalies in the NHL today are Sergei Bobrovsky, Andrei Vasilevski, Juuse Saros, Darcy Kuemper, Jacob Markström, Igor Shesterkin, Tristan Jerry, Thatcher Demko, Frederik Andersen, Cameron Talbot, Jack Campbell, and Jake Oettinger.
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Each of those goalies finished the 2021-22 NHL season with more than 30 games – they were the only ones to do so this season. Markström led the league with nine shutouts, Shesterkin led the league in save percentage (.935), and Bobrovsky had the best overall record at 39-7-3.
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