Most Injury-Prone Starters in the NHL

Jonathan Willis
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.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
Avatar
#51 MattL
July 25 2009, 08:07AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

DanMan wrote:

We gotta remember, MacT was severely unqualified when he was hired, he had been an assistant for ONE year!

Yep, it's pretty much impossible to win with a first-year coach. I mean last season for example, Dan Bylsma was a head coach for...... uh.... hmmm....

Avatar
#52 BK
July 25 2009, 09:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The wall has 10 more missed games than Brodeur. I guess we wouldn't want him either!! I usually really like Jonathan's articles, but NOW YOU'RE PISSING ME OFF!

WE GET IT, Khabbi is older, yes! BUT he's also a winner who wants to be here, and seems excited to help groom upcomming goalies. WE NEED THAT! ROLLI WAS NOT THAT!

Could he get hurt? SURE, to your well overstated point) likely even but we have drafted goalies in our system whom it's time to see if they make it, or cut them frigging loose. There are TONS of trade options to be had if Khabbi picks up a long term injury.

In the mean time lets give "The Wall" a chance to win, and give JD a chance to know what his true role is, and quit WRITING LIKE A WHINNY TEENAGE GIRL!

Avatar
#53 Jonathan Willis
July 25 2009, 09:17AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

HAZER wrote:

the last legit goalie this team had in his prime

~Because everyone knows that from age 36 to 40 is when a goalie is in the prime of his career...~

Avatar
#54 Jonathan Willis
July 25 2009, 09:22AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ BK:

Take it easy, BK. I didn't mean to insult your grandfather (I assume that you're little little Bobby Khabibulin, Nikolai's 4-year old grandson, no?).

After all, it doesn't reflect on his character that he has groin, knee, finger, knee, back, lower body, lower body and lower body injuries.

Avatar
#55 Jonathan Willis
July 25 2009, 09:23AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

On a lighter note:

I was rather shocked nobody commented on Vesa Toskala's injury record...

Avatar
#56 BK
July 25 2009, 09:31AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Jonathan Willis:

Yes, Bobbi I am!

Seriously, you have to admit all stats aside, there may be a character element that is playing part of this deal. I believe, based on VERY LITTLE evidence, that Khabi will fit in better to the mentor role than anyone else you listed. There is a chance that is playing into this, I think a very big chance. We need a legit started who can help bring another one along. No matter what his name might be.

ALSO, I just think you're too concerned about Gramps getting injured. Let's just say he does! There are alway LOTS of goalie options that frankly become clearer as the season progresses. Just take a look at NYI come November! lol

Avatar
#57 Archaeologuy
July 25 2009, 09:35AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Jonathan Willis: I love how according to BK your point is well overstated. Your whole article runs roughly 15 sentences + data, half of those sentences are talking about other goalies.

How dare you bash my head in with all this wordiness JW, how dare you?!

Avatar
#58 Smokin' Ray
July 25 2009, 09:39AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Holy crap we need the season to start. The fans are getting bitchy with each other.

~Let's hope that the Oilers didn't send a link of this site with the DVD they sent to Heatley or no one will ever come here.~

Avatar
#59 Smokin' Ray
July 25 2009, 09:45AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

These comments as of late are getting depressing to be an Oiler fan. Where's the positive spins lately?

Ok. I'll start.

I like the way Big Mac punches people in the face.

I like the way Storts smiles at people on the opposite team and it aggravates them.

I like that Gagner not only has been improving, but he has also dropped the gloves with people bigger than he is. (not many do)

I like that the Oilers used the retro jerseys last year. Them are cool.

Avatar
#60 BK
July 25 2009, 09:47AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Archaeologuy: I just meant Jonathan has brought this same point up in a number of articles a number of times. Even Jonathan admitted that in a previous post in this string.

I would LOVE TO SEE JW use his powers for GOOD instead of EVIL! lol

Jonathan, here's a challenge to your admireable analysis skills (which I really do admire - and return to this site and yours to read). Play the devil's advicate and tell us why this deal could be a great one! I know it's not your true opinion so it would be hard and very impressive! I I would love to see the flip side presented from you, if you could.

Avatar
#61 DanMan
July 25 2009, 09:48AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ogden Brother wrote:

DanMan wrote: @ Ogden Brother: Gregor had an interview with Renney before he was hired. It was pretty in depth. Its probably on the 1260 website archived. In it, Gregor asked him what his policy was on calling guys out through the media. Renney flat out said that is something he would NEVER do. And it never should be done. And a minor leaguer? Who does that? What organization has ever done that? Not to mention Renney doesn’t have the milquetoast demeanor, and the psuedo-intellectual hockey-talk like “optics” and “compete level” When I think “compete level”, I think “minor penalties”. Minor leaguer? i’m assuming you are talking about Redox? Ask Bsbcock who he had on the 1st line a couple of games in the SCF??? Might show you that it’s acutally you that has no idea what he’s talking about.

You are mistaken.

I meant when MacT "called out" Rob Schremp. His rant made it on sportscenter for all of Canada to see. I find that really embarassing for the organization to bash a minor-leaguer publicly.

The SC anchor said "It's no secret that Rob Schremp and Craig MacTavish don't get along". And had the split pictures of both of them in the corner of the screen.

I'm thinking, how do you "not get along" with a guy in the minors? Why is he even talking to the minor-leaguer? Again, what organization has ever done that?

Avatar
#62 Jonathan Willis
July 25 2009, 09:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ BK:

Khabibulin's a good goaltender. IF he stays healthy and IF he retains the form he had last season (not the playoff form, and not the form he had the previous three years) Steve Tambellini will come out looking like a genius.

The dollars on the contract - while excessive for this summer - are quite reasonable when compared to goaltenders signed in previous seasons. The deal should be tradeable to some cellar dweller at some point in the future if things go badly.

Avatar
#63 DanMan
July 25 2009, 09:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

DanMan wrote:

Minor leaguer? i’m assuming you are talking about Redox? Ask Bsbcock who he had on the 1st line a couple of games in the SCF??? Might show you that it’s acutally you that has no idea what he’s talking about.

I'm just going to assume that you were completely $$$HITFACED when typing this hahahaha!

Those drunken posts, brings back lots of great memories of politics.com.......

Avatar
#64 Archaeologuy
July 25 2009, 09:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

BK wrote:

I would LOVE TO SEE JW use his powers for GOOD instead of EVIL! lol

Early in life one needs to choose whether to use your talents for Good or for Awesome. I think we know what Willis chose all those years ago while compiling data as to which colour of building block provides the most joy per time played. Little JW chose awesome, and now 20+ years later we will be reminded that the Oilers have very few building blocks with a high joy quotient.

Avatar
#65 BK
July 25 2009, 09:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Jonathan Willis:

Fair enough. Thanks for bringing balance to the world. Or at least this comment string. BK (Bobbie)

Avatar
#66 Jonathan Willis
July 25 2009, 10:12AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Archaeologuy:

It was the red blocks, Archie (can I call you Archie?). Red blocks all the way.

Avatar
#67 ScubaSteve
July 25 2009, 10:24AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Jonathan Willis:

Besides purely statistical, what is your big attraction to Biron? He was thrown out to be replaced by Emery, then signed as a back-up to Roloson. What part of that makes him a better option? I think the stats blind you sometimes from what is really happening, eg. that Biron isn't that good.

Avatar
#68 Jonathan Willis
July 25 2009, 10:47AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ ScubaSteve:

Biron's cocky, and he doesn't let a weak goal get him down. Frankly, I put him somewhere between 5-20 on a list of the best goaltenders in the league.

I think sometimes people tend to let circumstance blind them; he was too rich for Philly's blood, (they have massive cap problems) so they elected to go super-duper cheap with an Emery/Boucher tandem. I very much doubt the Flyers honestly prefer Emery to Biron.

As for the Islanders, they got their man right away, pretty cheap, and then they simply couldn't pass on Biron at that price - I'd wager right now that Biron plays more games than Roli this season.

As for "aside from the statistical", forgive me for being dense, but what the hell else matters with a goalie? He stops the puck or he doesn't - that's it. Look at Hasek; his "style" was flip-floppery and he was a diver on the ice and a poor teammate off of it (recall his time in Ottawa where he refused to even attempt to play, with their season on the line).

But he stopped the puck.

Avatar
#69 ScubaSteve
July 25 2009, 11:02AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathan Willis wrote:

s for “aside from the statistical”, forgive me for being dense, but what the hell else matters with a goalie?

The same things that matter for a player, heart, work ethic, determination.

Unless you are exceptional (like Hasek), those things matter to a team more than 5 sv% points. A goalie that can elevate his level when needed, make the big save to preserve a 2 goal lead in the 3rd, even if he let in 5 other goals that night.

A goalie with a .905 that can elevate in the 3rd period wins more game than one with a .910 that plays a good 1st and 2nd, but falters in the 3rd. There more to it than stats.

Avatar
#70 Drew Bannister
July 25 2009, 11:06AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

BK wrote:

The wall has 10 more missed games than Brodeur. I guess we wouldn’t want him either!! I usually really like Jonathan’s articles, but NOW YOU’RE PISSING ME OFF!

BK, you're not thinking straight. Brodeur only had that one injury and it cost him 56 games just last season. Otherwise, Marty has been an extremely durable goaltender. But the Bulin Wall has faced multiple injuries since the lockout.

Avatar
#71 Victoria
July 25 2009, 11:19AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

ScubaSteve wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Besides purely statistical, what is your big attraction to Biron? He was thrown out to be replaced by Emery, then signed as a back-up to Roloson. What part of that makes him a better option? I think the stats blind you sometimes from what is really happening, eg. that Biron isn’t that good.

Emery signed for a tad over a mil, Biron was expecting a lot more from Philly. Considering they were trying to save some money to get Pronger over there, it makes perfect sense.

As a side note: Holy Pascal Leclaire! I didn't realize he'd been injured that much. Have fun with that Ottawa.

Also, I'd like to point out (for the heck of it), that in his 235 games played since the lockout, Roloson has only missed those six games in the playoffs, thanks to Bergeron. Not bad for an old guy.

Avatar
#72 Oil-man-Dan
July 25 2009, 11:20AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

J-Dub:

I don't think anyone here debates the validity of the data you use to support your theories, I think its more a matter of you picking a theory first, then finding numbers that support it that seems to irritate people. And by people, I mean me, lol. It just seems that you find a subject and hammer it home from 10 different angles before you move on to something else. When your opinion happens to differ from mine well, its just frustrating that I am so clearly right based on my gut feelings, while you you you just use all them numbers to boggle my mind and hurt my feelings. Seriously though we posters a fickle bunch. We crave content and then when we get it we complain.

Seriously seriously, stop picking on THE WALL and Tambo. It gives me rage. :)

Avatar
#73 Hemmertime
July 25 2009, 11:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathan Willis wrote:

(despite how he reacted last time he got a 4-year contract).

Quality of chances that year show a lesser goalie would have put up MUCH worse numbers. That was a defensively horrible team.

Avatar
#74 Ogden Brother
July 25 2009, 12:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

DanMan wrote:

DanMan wrote: Minor leaguer? i’m assuming you are talking about Redox? Ask Bsbcock who he had on the 1st line a couple of games in the SCF??? Might show you that it’s acutally you that has no idea what he’s talking about. I’m just going to assume that you were completely $$$HITFACED when typing this hahahaha! Those drunken posts, brings back lots of great memories of politics.com…….

Haha, ya I was. Sorry man.

Avatar
#75 DanMan
July 25 2009, 12:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Ogden Brother:

Don't be sorry! We may disagree, but we gotta have some fun on here hahahaha.

I haven't been able to drink for a while (buying a house, moving, no time), but when I do, ON will be my outlet hahaha

Avatar
#76 Archaeologuy
July 25 2009, 12:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathan Willis wrote:

It was the red blocks, Archie (can I call you Archie?). Red blocks all the way

Yeah, i got used to being called archie or archy on the Sportsnet pages (they donnt have a reply button so my Handle can be annoying to type out). Although, outside of sports sites I respond to Matt.

Avatar
#77 godot10
July 25 2009, 01:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

You have NOT demonstrated that any goaltenders deviation from the average number of games lost since the lockout is statistically significant.

i.e. You have shown that Khabibulin has missed more games than the median and average goaltender did, but you have NOT shown that this is a statistically sginificant result or just a product of chance.

Until you do say a chi-squared significant test on Khabibulin's deviation from the average to show whether it is significant or not, your argument is just a hypothesis, neither true, nor false, just unsubstantiated one way or another.

Avatar
#78 Oil-man-Dan
July 25 2009, 03:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ godot10: godot10 wrote:

You have NOT demonstrated that any goaltenders deviation from the average number of games lost since the lockout is statistically significant. i.e. You have shown that Khabibulin has missed more games than the median and average goaltender did, but you have NOT shown that this is a statistically sginificant result or just a product of chance. Until you do say a chi-squared significant test on Khabibulin’s deviation from the average to show whether it is significant or not, your argument is just a hypothesis, neither true, nor false, just unsubstantiated one way or another.

I like it. I have NFC what it means but I like it.

Avatar
#79 myteammytown
July 26 2009, 08:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Oil-man-Dan wrote:

I like it. I have NFC what it means but I like it.

i have put it through a croatian-english translator, and i believe i can help you figure it out.

roughly translated, that mess of a post means, in english:

"i like mnidgets and cheese....together...."

Comments are closed for this article.