Goalies are a crucial part of a hockey game. They make the key saves in order to keep their team in the game. All of this hard work needs to be rewarded and in the NHL, this means they will get a hefty raise. There are times when a goalie has an incredible season and then signs a long term deal. After that long term deal, their performance drops tremendously and the team and fans are left wondering, "is he really worth that much money?"
There are articles which pinpoint how bad some goalies were in recent times. A bad goalie usually has a low save percentage and allows a lot of goals per game which increases his goals against average.
In the current era of hockey, teams aren't scoring as much as they used to so the amount of goalies with incredible stats has gone up. Some of those goalies are signed to very cap friendly deals which means that they are underpaid for their services and the team benefits off of this. There are also goalies who take a large salary and their stats are unappealing for the huge cap hit they take on the team. You would be surprised as there are some current NHL teams that have two overpaid goalies on their roster, which only doubles the problem that they face. Not all the goalies on this list are overpaid, some are actually very underpaid for the important role that they play on their team.
15 Not Worth It: Kari Lehtonen
Kari Lehtonen was a first round draft pick by the Thrashers where he had some reasonable stats. The problem was that he was young and alternating between the NHL and AHL. The Thrashers eventually traded him to the Stars, his current team. He played two seasons on the Stars with stats hovering around the .910 area and the Stars decided to extend him immediately, giving him a 5 year, $29.5 million contract. Today, this contract is really not paying any dividends for the Stars as for the last 3 seasons, Kari had a GAA close to 3 goals and a save percentage that never hit .910. The Stars are a powerhouse up front but signing Lehtonen was a gamble that did not pay off.
14 Worth It: Matt Murray
There is no denying the fact that Murray played a big role in last year's Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The most impressive part is that he was still on his entry-level contract when he accomplished this glory. The Penguins recently extended him for 3 years netting him $3.75 million until the end of the 2019-2020 season. Even though he has played only 43 career NHL games, the Penguins know what he is capable of and he has a very respectable career .925 save percentage in those games. If he continues at this pace, he is surely locked up to a bargain deal for the next 3 years and is definitely worth his contract.
13 Not Worth It: Steve Mason
After being traded from Columbus to Philadelphia, Mason was hard at work and put up two decent seasons with the Flyers. They rewarded him with a 3 year deal which would net him $4.1 million per year. He quickly reminded management why this was a good deal by putting up a career high .928 save percentage in the 2014-15 season. Everything looked good for the Flyers and Mason but then his numbers started to decrease rather quickly. Last season, he was outplayed by his backup Michal Neuvirth while Mason continued to struggle. Mason currently sits at the bottom of the league in save percentage at .900 and things aren't getting better as he currently allows almost 3 goals per game. The contract isn't looking too good for the Flyers right now but Mason could still turn his career around.
12 Worth It: Devan Dubnyk
Devan Dubnyk is a perfect example of how a goalie can turn his career around. Being traded around the league wasn't easy for Dubnyk but he found stability with the Minnesota Wild at last. After putting up an unbelievable season in 2014-15 with a career high save percentage of .936 and winning 27 out of his 39 starts, he was off to turn around his career. He agreed on a 6 year, $26 million extension with the Wild and they have not regretted it one bit. The Wild had an off year last season but that surely wasn't Devan's fault as he was still sporting a respectable save percentage and GAA. However, this might be the season where he makes the biggest name for himself. He has currently won 30 of his 42 starts while acquiring a .934 save percentage. There will be no surprise if we see him win a Vezina this season if he can continue this stellar work all the way to the end.
11 Not Worth It: Semyon Varlamov
Semyon Varlamov is another goalie who started off his career very strong but is now showing signs of decline. Starting off with the Washington Capitals, Varlamov played strong but the Capitals also had Braden Holtby showing off his strengths so they shipped him to Colorado for a first-round pick, Filip Forsberg, as well as a second round pick. Varlamov put up career highs with Colorado in 2013-14 sporting a .927 save percentage. He signed a 5 year, $29.5 million contract with the Avs. Things went downhill from there. Varlamov has had trouble staying healthy and is allowing more than 3 goals per game in the current season. His save percentage sits at .898 which is at the bottom of the league as well. This really doesn't look promising for the Avalanche who have him on contract at $5.9 million for another two seasons as they sit at the bottom of the NHL in points.
10 Worth It: Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and has been awarded the Jennings trophy twice. The Chicago Blackhawks knew that he was their franchise goalie and what more could they ask for? Corey has proven to be consistent for the past 5 years and he was well due for a raise. He was awarded a 6 year, $36 million extension with an AVV of $6 million in 2013. This was a bargain for the Blackhawks because he is a key factor for their success. He should easily provide what they need for the duration of his contract. His .920 career playoff save percentage also adds a lot of value to his deal and the Hawks future playoff runs rely heavily on him. The Hawks are surely content with who they have between the pipes.
9 Not Worth It: Mike Smith
Mike Smith's lengthy career has spanned over three teams but he really didn't make his mark until the 2011-12 season where he achieved a career high .930 save percentage and led the Phoenix Coyotes to the conference finals, ultimately losing to the Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings. The Yotes rewarded Smith in 2013 with a 6 year, $34 million extension. This contract seemed reasonable at the time, but as of right now, Smith has aged accordingly and his play followed. Injuries have been a nuisance for him and for the past three seasons, he has allowed around 3 goals per game. This is not something you want from a goalie making close to $6 million per year. Smith is not the sole blame as his team is currently in a rebuild but his contract runs until he is 37 years of age. This is quite tough if the team expects a resurgence out of him because his age is catching up to him and it's looking very unlikely.
8 Worth It: Cory Schneider
The Vancouver Canucks believed in Cory Schneider when they chose him 26th overall in the 2004 draft. He put up above average numbers with the Canucks and it baffled many people when he was traded in 2013 to the New Jersey Devils for a first-round pick (Bo Horvat). After joining the declining Devils in the 2013-14 season, he continued his stellar play putting up a GAA under 2.00. He got quickly rewarded with a long-term seven-year deal worth $42 million. The Devils acquired consistency in net with Schneider and he is arguably the best goalie they've had since the Brodeur days. With a career .923 save percentage, Schneider is playing a big role for the Devils and will be key when the Devils rebuild is complete and they push for a playoff run.
7 Not Worth It: Marc-Andre Fleury
The Pittsburgh Penguins owe a lot of their success to Marc Andre Fleury during their back-to-back Stanley Cup finals appearances from 2008 to 2009. He was quickly awarded a 7 year, $35 million deal in 2008. The Penguins had regular season success for the next few years but they could never muster up anything in the playoffs and this had to do with the fact that Fleury could not play consistently for them. He put up a save percentage under .90 for four years straight in the playoffs. In 2015, the Penguins gave him a raise and extended him for another 5 years with an AVV of $5.75 million per year. He provided regular season consistency and improved his playoff performance but in the current season, he seems to have lost his game sporting a .906 save percentage and a 3.15 GAA. With a core that consists of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, it does not seem to make sense as to why his play has dropped. With the emergence of Matt Murray, Fleury seems to be on his way out because he is simply not living up to his contract.
6 Worth It: Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick helped the Los Angeles Kings achieve two cups in the last five years. He provided the Kings with consistency in the regular season as well as the playoffs. He also has one of the biggest workloads out of any NHL goalie, playing more than 60-70 games per season. In 2012, he was rewarded a ten-year deal worth $58 million with an AVV of $5.8 million per year. This all seems like a dream for the Kings right now who have a two-time Stanley Cup goaltender locked in at a very cap friendly deal. He is currently sitting on IR this season with a lower body injury. His services are greatly missed but once he is back, the Kings know they can have their franchise goaltender in net once again.
5 Not Worth It: Jimmy Howard
Jimmy Howard has spent the entirety of his career with the Detroit Red Wings and during that span he had his highs and lows. After putting up three seasons with 30+ wins from 2009 to 2012, the Wings decided it was time to reward their goaltender with a contract extension. He was given 6 year, $31.75 million contract with an AVV of $5.29 million per year. In the following years after signing this deal, his play was rather underwhelming and he wasn't able to hit the .920 save percentage that he established prior. He is showing signs of a comeback in the 2016-17 season with a .934 save percentage but this is only a small sample size since he has only dressed for 17 games before an injury put him on the injury reserve. Look for Howard to try and improve his game and win his starting job back from backup Petr Mrazek.
4 Worth It: Braden Holtby
The Washington Capitals struck gold when they drafted Braden Holtby with the 93rd overall in the 2008 draft. He has given the Caps consistency in net for the last 5 seasons and he was awarded the Vezina last season. All that stellar play rewarded him a five-year extension worth $30.5 million in 2015. He is currently continuing his success with the Capitals and we will most likely see him hit the 40 win plateau for the third consecutive season. This is quite a feat for goalie who has not even hit his 30's yet. This contract is looking to pay out more dividends for Washington who are looking to win their first Stanley Cup.
3 Not Worth It: Antti Niemi
The Dallas Stars seem to have horrible luck when it comes to goalies. While already carrying a declining Kari Lehtonen on the roster, they must also pay out $4.5 million to Antti Niemi for the next two seasons. Niemi has not been able to provide solid goaltending for the Stars allowing in on average more than 3 goals per game, while being unable to acquire a save percentage over .905. These contracts raise many questions for management because they have more than $9 million attributed to their goaltenders, and neither of them has provided the answer for them. Look for the Stars to dump one of these contracts in the offseason or at the trade deadline.
2 Worth It: Carey Price
In 2005, the Montreal Canadiens made one of their best draft picks when they selected Carey Price fifth overall. Price has provided stellar play for the Habs for years now and he is coming to an end of his 6 year, $39 million contract he signed back in 2012. The 2014-15 Vezina winner is in dire need of a raise and the Habs know this because he is the backbone of their team. It is not often that you have a goalie that can provide a save percentage of .930 and a GAA of less than 2.00. Price is an excellent goalie and $6.5 million per year is a bargain to pay for his services. The Canadiens are looking to return to the playoffs with Price at the helm.
1 Not Worth It: Henrik Lundqvist
Being the highest paid goaltender in the NHL, Henrik Lundqvist has a lot to live up to and his 7 year, $59 million contract that the New York Rangers gave him in 2013 is something that they may regret in the near future. Henrik is far from being a bad goalie as he has given the Rangers life providing them with 7 straight years of save percentages of .920 or higher. The problem is the fact that his contract runs until he is 39 years old. There is some concern as he is already having a sub-par year this season allowing almost 3 goals a game and a save percentage barely pushing the .910 mark. Time can only tell but having $8.5 million attributed to their goaltender for the next 4 years means that the Rangers are expecting stellar play from Hank for that period of time and as of right now, that may be questionable. The Rangers can only hope that Henrik returns to his former self for the duration of his contract.