July 24 2009 08:05PM
The Northwest Division is full of healthy goaltenders. Roberto Luongo, Niklas Backstrom and Craig Anderson have all been very durable, while Miikka Kiprusoff is the most durable goalie in the entire NHL.
The sole name from the Northwest that doesn’t show up on that list is Nikolai Khabibulin.
What follows is a list of the league’s starters, ranked by games missed since the lockout (I’ve excluded flu and personal reasons from the list since these don’t reflect physical wear-and-tear):
- Pascal Leclaire: 120 games (back, left knee, knee, left knee, hamstring, neck, right thumb, ankle, ankle)
- Rick DiPietro: 105 games (concussion, knee, groin, lower body, neck, headache, knee, hip, knee, knee, groin, right knee)
- Kari Lehtonen: 84 games (groin, sprained ankle, groin, back, upper body)
- Nikolai Khabibulin: 66 games (groin, knee, finger, knee, back, lower body, lower body, lower body)
- Martin Brodeur: 56 games (right knee, left elbow)
- Vesa Toskala: 48 games (groin, groin, groin, groin, groin, groin, hip, hip)
- Cristobal Huet: 44 games (knee, hamstring, groin, back)
- Mike Smith: 44 games (concussion, arm, knee, post-concussion)
- Marc-Andre Fleury: 39 games (ankle, lower body)
- Ryan Miller: 35 games (thumb, lower body, left ankle)
- Evgeni Nabokov: 32 games (shoulder, groin, groin, abdominal, groin, lower body, lower body)
- Jose Theodore: 30 games (knee, heel, hip, knee, back, hip)
- Tomas Vokoun: 27 games (knee, thumb, ankle, back)
- Roberto Luongo: 27 games (knee, rib, groin)
- Chris Osgood: 23 games (groin, hand, finger, groin)
- Ilya Bryzgalov: 17 games (groin, groin, back)
- Carey Price: 12 games (lower body injury, groin)
- Steve Mason: 9 games (knee, mononucleosis)
- Ray Emery: 9 games (wrist, wrist)
- Cam Ward: 7 games (knee, groin)
- Henrik Lundqvist: 7 games (hip)
- Tim Thomas: 6 games (lower body)
- Marty Turco: 5 games (lower body, neck, lower body)
- Chris Mason: 4 games (groin)
- Niklas Backstrom: 3 games (lower body, groin)
- Jon Quick: 0 games missed, 44 GP
- Pekka Rinne: 0 games missed, 55 GP
- Jonas Hiller: 0 games missed, 69 GP
- Craig Anderson: 0 games missed, 82 GP
- Miikka Kiprusoff: 0 games missed, 300 GP
Let’s also look at the backup options that those teams employing the five most injury-prone goaltenders:
- Ottawa: Brian Elliott – 30GP, .902 SV% NHL/31GP, .926 SV% AHL last season
- New York Islanders: Martin Biron/Dwayne Roloson
- Atlanta: Ondrej Pavelec – 12GP, .880 SV% NHL/40GP, .914 SV% AHL; Johan Hedberg – 33GP, .886 SV% NHL
- Edmonton: Jeff Deslauriers – 10GP, .901 SV% NHL/5GP, .906 SV% AHL
- New Jersey: Yann Danis – 31GP, .910 SV% NHL/10GP, .924 SV% AHL
Three of those five teams have very decent backup options. The Islanders have a legitimate NHL tandem behind Rick DiPietro, and Martin Biron is one of the healthiest goaltenders in the league (187GP since the lockou, zero games missed). Ottawa prospect Brian Elliott has a tremendous track record in college (.938, .923 SV% in his two years as a starter), a good record in the AHL (.915, .926 SV% his last two seasons) and did a decent job (.902 SV%) last year in the NHL over an extended debut (31 games). Meanwhile, New Jersey backup Yann Danis did tremendous work backstopping the woeful Islanders last season.
Meanwhile, Atlanta has prospect Ondrej Pavelec, who has had two OK AHL seasons (.911, .914 SV% and has the virtue of youth (just 21 years old) and Johan Hedberg who has been mediocre (at best) since excelling in a post-season run in Pittsburgh. Pavelec has promise, but if Lehtonen gets hurt again Atlanta will be in trouble – which is unsurprising, given that Atlanta is always in trouble.
Meanwhile, if Khabibulin gets injured, the Edmonton Oilers have Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, a player who is not only older than Elliott (one year) or Pavelec (more than three years) but also a much less accomplished AHL goalie than either of them.
Long story short: Nikolai Khabibulin, who missed 20 games with injury last season and who has averaged 17 games a year every season since the lockout gets hurt again, the Oilers are unprepared. The Oilers have a less qualified backup than any of these other five teams with injury-prone goaltenders.
Form your own conclusions.