1. Martin Brodeur: What can you say? He is arguably the greatest goaltender of all-time. Look at the stats and they will tell you the same thing. Martin Brodeur has only won less than 40 games once since 2002/03. That is just plain ridiculous. Last season he had an extremely good .920 save percentage and a miniscule 2.17 G.A.A. Take into account the fact that the Devils probably got better this off-season (Rolston, Holik) and Brodeur should be a shoe-in for a 40 win season. Also, don’t be scared off by the annual “Brodeur will see his workload decrease this season” rumors, it never happens.
2: Evgeni Nabokov: I am still wondering how Nabokov played a shocking 77 games last season; but, indeed he did. The Russian netminder registered an extremely impressive 46 victories and 6 shutouts in 2007/08. In addition, his G.A.A. was a low 2.14. Prior to last season, Nabokov had been splitting time with Vesa Toskala and had never seen a workload over 67 games. Even with the increased workload last season, Nabokov was no worse for wear. In fact, he was probably better than ever. With the Sharks expecting to compete for Western Conference’s top seed and an improved blueline in front of him (Boyle and Blake), there is no reason to expect Nabokov to record below 40 wins and 5 shutouts this season.
3: Marty Turco: Having finally erased the “he isn’t a playoff goalie” tag in the 2006/07 playoffs, Marty Turco had another one of his successful statistical season in 2007/08. The former Michigan Wolverine registered 32 wins, 3 shutouts and had a 2.32 G.A.A. I’m sure by now you are thinking, “How does he slot in right behind Evgeni Nabokov with 14 less wins and 3 less shutouts?” Well, that is a fair question. The answer is that Dallas is a lot better to start this season than they were last year. The team has added Brad Richards, Sean Avery and Fabian Brunnstrom to its top two lines and only lost Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern in the process. Of course there are questions about the Stars’ defense, especially early in the season, but this team should compete with San Jose and Anaheim for the Pacific Division title. Look for Turco to be in the 37-40 win range with more than the 3 shutouts he registered last year.
4. Henrik Lundqvist: Of Lundvist’s 37 wins last year, an insane 10 were via the shutout. Wow; that is a poolies dream. The Swedish sensation nicknamed “The King” has played at least 70 games the past two seasons and should be counted on once again to log that many minutes. With the Rangers looking like they could finish anywhere from 3rd in the Eastern Conference to 9th, expect the team to ride Lundqvist all season long.
5. Jean-Sebastien Giguere: Giguere is unlike the four goalies listed before him in that he has never played more than 65 games in a season. Don’t worry though, because Giguere has won well over half of his starts the past two seasons. Expect the former Conn Smythe winner to play in around 60 games in 2008/09 and with the Ducks looking to compete for the division title, Giguere should probably register about 33-35 wins and 4-5 shutouts. Let’s not forget his impressively low 2.12 G.A.A. last season.
6. Marc-Andre Fleury: Coming off a 40 win season in 2006/07, the young netminder struggled last season until the stretch run and playoffs where he proved just how talented he is. Fleury proved in the Stanley Cup Finals that he can be a money goaltender. Sure his team got worse over the off-season but they still have loads of scoring. With Crosby, Malkin, Satan, et al., leading the way, the Penguins should win their fair share of games. The injuries to Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney are a concern, but the Penguins are still a top four team in the Eastern Conference and Fleury should be close to the 35-40 win mark.
7. Chris Osgood: Is Osgood good enough to play big minutes for the Wings? I’m kidding. This guy just gets no respect. Coming off an impressive Stanley Cup run where he only lost four games in four rounds, Osgood is the clear number one netminder in Detroit. The scariest part is that his team may actually be better this season than last. With Dominik Hasek off in retirement, Osgood should start between 55-60 games. Considering he won 27 times in 43 starts last season, a 35+ win season should be easy for the veteran netminder.
8. Miikka Kiprusoff: Kiprusoff has averaged 75 games over the past three years and 40 victories–now those are some good numbers. There is some worry that he has played too much over the past few seasons and that his high 2.69 G.A.A is cause for concern. So, taking that into account, the Flames may scale back his workload to around 70 game mark. If that’s done, Kiprusoff may slide in at about 35 wins but his G.A.A. should be lower than last season.
9. Carey Price: Price is young and talented and on arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference. If he has a good season in 2008/09 he will spring into the top five rankings for next season. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves–we are concerned with this year and this year only. Even so, Price has come into training camp in better shape than last season and is the undisputed number one netminder on the high-flying Habs. Sure he will have his ups-and-downs, but that will probably result in a 35+ win season and a high shutout rate.
10: Ryan Miller: Miller has a nice six-year contract extension in his back pocket now so he can fully concentrate on just playing goalie. With his skill level and the Sabres looking to rebound from a disappointing 2007/08 campaign, expect Miller to have a big rebound season in 2008/09. Funny how a 36 win season can be considered poor but Miller wasn’t at his best last year. Expect an increase in wins to around 40 but a G.A.A. around the 2.60 mark.
Just failed to make the cut: Roberto Luongo and Martin Biron.