The Anti-Vezina: 5 disappointing goalies
Call this the anti-Vezina list.
Next week, we at ESPN.com will hand out our midseason awards. Today, we bring you what we believe are the five most disappointing goaltenders at the halfway point given their pedigree and expectations. In no particular order:
It seems like years ago when he put up 33 wins and a 2.29 goals-against average and won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. Well, it was just two seasons ago. Since then, the sophomore slump has extended into a Year 3 malaise. As of Thursday morning, his 3.20 GAA was 40th among NHL goalies, and his .902 save percentage was 32nd. He's played better of late, which is good, because the Jackets need him to turn things around. He's only 22, so I suspect everything will be fine. It had better be after the Jackets extended his contract, a two-year, $5.8 million deal that kicks in next season.
When the Thrashers signed him to a two-year, $3.7 million deal this past summer, it was with the idea that he would be their starter or at least compete with young Ondrej Pavelec for starts. Neither has happened. His .896 save percentage is 39th in the league, and his 3.66 GAA is dead last in the NHL. Luckily for the Thrashers, it hasn't mattered because Pavelec is having a Vezina-worthy season.
No wonder Lightning GM Steve Yzerman felt compelled to bring in Dwayne Roloson via trade. Smith's .883 save percentage is second-to-last in the NHL, and his 3.20 GAA is 41st. Dan Ellis hasn't been much better, but Smith is the guy long viewed as a possible starter after his trade from Dallas. The consistency has never come. He'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1 and won't be in Tampa next season.
How the mighty have fallen. Nominated for the Vezina last season after a sensational campaign, Anderson has the 38th-ranked GAA (3.13) and 33rd-ranked save percentage (.901) in the NHL. Granted, the Avs' blue line isn't Detroit's, so there's plenty of rubber coming his way, but it was the same when he stood on his head last season. Talk about bad timing, especially with Anderson set to be a UFA on July 1. There is plenty of time to turn things around, but if he doesn't, it will be a costly season for him.
It's safe to say we never thought the day would come when we would put his name on this list. We tremble just doing it. But the numbers don't lie -- a .882 save percentage (44th and dead last among all goalies) and 3.15 GAA (39th). Nothing from this season will take anything away from what is arguably the greatest goaltending career in NHL history. And to be fair, it's not as though the team in front of him has been any help. (Still, a bit surprising to see the Devils actually ranked first in the NHL in fewest shots allowed per game as of Thursday morning.) Brodeur has one more year left on his deal at $5.2 million. Let's hope next season is a bounce-back one and he can go out in style.