In hockey, a team usually has a total of six players on the ice at any given time, consisting of three forwards who are primarily focused on scoring, two defensemen who aid the forwards but whose main job is to defend the net, and one goalie. The goalie’s job sounds simple: stop the puck from entering your team’s net, but in reality it is the hardest position to play on the team. The goalie is in fact the most important position in the entire sport, as games ultimately end up being decided based on the play of a team’s netminder.
The NHL has many of the best goalies in the world, and they also possess what is quite possibly the hardest trophy in all of sports to win: the Stanley Cup. In order to win it, teams have to compete in four playoff rounds, with each round consisting of a best of seven series; and teams that win the Stanley Cup, usually do so thanks to the performance of their goalie. There are currently 30 teams in the NHL, and many of them have a great goalie in net, but because only one team can win the Stanley Cup each year, there are actually quite a few active good goalies who have still never won a championship in their careers. Here is a list of the top 15 active NHL goalies who have never won the Stanley Cup.
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15 Craig Anderson
Most professional athletes get drafted once, no matter what sport they play, but sometimes there are rare cases in which a player gets drafted twice for the same sport, and Craig Anderson was one of those cases. Anderson was first drafted in 1999 by the Calgary Flames, but when things did not go as planned with the Flames, he returned to his junior team and reentered the draft again in 2001 where he was taken by Chicago. He played on and off with the Blackhawks’ main roster as a backup for three seasons before moving on to Florida where he spent another three seasons as a backup. He would then spend a season and a half with Colorado, before being traded to the Ottawa Senators during the 2010-11 season, the team with which he still plays for today as a number one goalie. Anderson has played in a combined 27 playoff games with both Ottawa and Colorado, earning a .933 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average, but he has not won a Stanley Cup.
14 Jonas Hiller
Unlike most of the goalies on this list, Jonas Hiller did not need to be drafted by an NHL team to make his way into the league. He started his career by playing in the professional leagues of Switzerland and then Sweden, and it was thanks to his performance in Sweden that he earned his shot in the NHL. The Anaheim Ducks signed Hiller in 2007, and by the 2009 postseason, he had become the Ducks’ starter, and he would remain in that role despite suffering from severe vertigo until 2014 when he signed with the Calgary Flames. He went on to spend two seasons with Calgary, serving as their starter as well, where in the 2014-15 season he helped bring Calgary into the playoffs. Combined, Hiller has played in the postseason four times, playing a total of 33 games with a .930 save percentage and 2.33 goals against average, but he could not win a cup with either team.
13 Ondrej Pavelec
Ondrej Pavelec is a native of the Czech Republic, and in the 2005 draft he was taken 41st overall by the Atlanta Thrashers. He made his NHL debut with the team in the 2007-08 season, and by the 2009-10 season, he became their starting goalie, a job he continues to have today with the same franchise which is now called the Jets and located in Winnipeg. Pavelec has been a number one goalie for the better part of seven seasons now, despite being in competition with backup goalie Michael Hutchison the past season, unfortunately though, he has only managed to bring his team into the postseason once. That one playoff appearance consisted of only four games where he had a save percentage below .900 and a goals against average of 3.73, which are worse than his all-time regular season numbers. In over seven seasons, Pavelec has not been able to win a cup with the Thrashers/Jets franchise, and it is likely that he might have to go somewhere else in order to do so.
12 Jimmy Howard
The Detroit Red Wings have been one of the most successful teams in the NHL for well over two decades now, which includes making the postseason 25 straight seasons, and winning four Stanley Cups in that time. Detroit is also known for being one of the better drafting teams in the league, and in 2003 they drafted Jimmy Howard who they believed could be their number one goalie for many years. In the 2009-10 season, the Howard era began as he was named Detroit’s starter, and for most of six seasons he remained the team’s undisputed number one goalie. The last two seasons however, has seen Howard get plagued by injuries and long stretches of bad play, which has forced him to now have to battle it out with youngster Petr Mrazek over the number one spot. As of now, Howard has spent his entire career with Detroit, and even though he has been to the postseason all those years, he has not won a cup yet.
11 Kari Lehtonen
It is not often that a goaltender is drafted somewhere in the top three, but Kari Lehtonen is a goalie who managed to do it. The Finnish born netminder started his professional career by playing in the Finnish Elite League, and it was his performance in Finland that led to the Atlanta Thrashers taking him second overall in 2002. Lehtonen made his debut in 2003, but it was not until the 2005-06 season that he went on to become the team’s number one goalie, a position which he held for four seasons. In the middle of the 2009-2010 season, he was traded to the Dallas Stars, the team which he continues to play for today, where he served as their number one goalie for the better part of six seasons. In his near 13 year career, Lehtonen has played in a combined 19 playoff games between both Dallas and Atlanta, but neither team has so far been able to win a cup with him in net.
10 Brian Elliott
No team really knows how good a player will be when they draft them, especially when that player is drafted in the late rounds. Brian Elliott was drafted 291st overall by Ottawa in 2003, and he quickly began to show that he was a lot better than his selection number indicated. He would not make his official debut until after finishing college in 2007, but by the next season, it became obvious that he had what it took to be a number one goalie. His time in Ottawa was short however, lasting barely three seasons before having to be traded in 2011. Elliot ended up spending the last five seasons with the St. Louis Blues where he had been mostly sharing the number one goalie spot with his goaltending partners. Elliott has been to the playoffs a combined five times with both Ottawa and St. Louis, where he has played in 37 games and earned a .911 save percentage and 2.49 goals against average. So far he has not won a cup, but maybe that will change now that he is with Calgary.
9 Cory Schneider
Sometimes, a team can be lucky enough to somehow end up having two real number one goalies on their team, and that is exactly what the Vancouver Canucks had when they had both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider on their team simultaneously. The Canucks initially selected Schneider in the first round of the 2004 draft, but it was not until the 2008-09 season that he finally made his debut with the team. He started out as Luongo’s backup, but over the four seasons that followed his debut, it became apparent that Schneider was starting goalie material. During the 2013 offseason, Vancouver decided to trade Schneider to the New Jersey Devils where he currently serves as their number one goalie. He has made the playoffs a total of three times in his career, all while with Vancouver, playing in 10 games which earned him a combined .922 save percentage with a 2.59 goals against average, but with no cup to show for it.
8 Jaroslav Halak
The Montreal Canadiens have had many goalies play for them in the over one hundred years that they have existed, and Jaroslav Halak became one of them when they drafted him in 2003. He debuted with Montreal in 2007 as a backup and continued to serve as one for most of the next three seasons, but during the 2009-10 season, he outplayed his goalie partner Carey Price and became the starter for that year’s playoff run. That stretch of time proved to be vital for Halak’s career, as it showed that he was capable of being a number one goaltender. Montreal chose to trade Halak that offseason however, sending him to St. Louis where he spent nearly four seasons sharing responsibilities with Brian Elliott. Halak now plays for the New York Islanders as their starting goalie, and in five different trips to the playoffs, he has played in 30 games but has not won a cup with any of the teams he has played for yet.
7 Ben Bishop
In every team sport, if you truly are a talented individual, your abilities will shine no matter what, even if it has to take a few years for it to happen. Ben Bishop began his NHL story when he was drafted by St. Louis in 2005, but he did not make his official debut until the 2008-09 season, and after that stint, he would not play for them again until 2010-11. The following year, Bishop was traded to Ottawa where he served as a third-string goaltender as well for nearly two seasons until he was once again traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2012-13 season. Tampa must have seen something in Bishop, as he has been one of the best goalies in the league the past three seasons that he has been with the team. As their number one goalie, Bishop has helped bring the Lightning to the playoffs the past two seasons, including an appearance in two conference finals and one cup final, but despite his performances in those postseasons, he has not won a cup yet.
6 Braden Holtby
There are times when a team is pleasantly surprised with the skill level of players they selected during the midway point of a draft, and the Washington Capitals were probably very surprised by the skills Braden Holtby possessed after they took him 93rd overall in 2008. Holtby did not make his debut with the team until the 2010-11 season where he played as a backup, a role he had for roughly three more seasons. By 2013-14, it became obvious to the Capitals that Holtby was a great goalie, and they were right as he has been one of the best three goalies in the league the past three seasons, including this past year where he won the trophy for being the league’s best goalie. He has been to the playoffs four straight years, posting a .927 save percentage and a 1.87 goals against average in 46 games, but despite being a great goalie on the offensive powerhouse that is Washington, he is yet to be a Stanley Cup champion.
5 Ryan Miller
For the better part of the past decade, Ryan Miller was one of the best goalies in the NHL, as proven by his winning the award for best goaltender in 2010. Miller was taken 138th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 1999, the team with which he spent parts of 11 seasons with. He started out as a backup goalie, but by the 2006-07 season, he became Buffalo’s number one goalie, a position that he held until the middle of the 2013-14 season when he was traded to St. Louis to serve as the Blues’ starter for the playoffs that year. That same offseason, Miller decided to go and sign with the Vancouver Canucks, where he continues to be their starter today. He has been to the playoffs a combined six times with all three teams, posting a .915 save percentage and 2.49 goals against average in 56 games, but all those games have not yet resulted in a cup.
4 Pekka Rinne
Franchise goalies do appear from time to time for NHL teams, and for the Nashville Predators, their franchise netminder turned out to be Pekka Rinne. The Finnish born Rinne was taken by Nashville in the 2004 draft with the 258th pick, and by the time the 2008-09 season came around, the Predators decided to make him their number one goalie. That turned out to be a very wise decision for the team, as Rinne, despite suffering from some lengthy injuries, has been one of the best five goalies in the NHL the past five seasons, being nominated for being the league’s best goalie three times in that span. Rinne has spent his entire 11 year career with Nashville, and in that time, he has helped lead the Predators into the playoffs five times, and in those playoff runs, he has a .912 save percentage with a 2.52 goals against average in a combined 48 games, but he and Nashville both continue to seek their first Stanley Cup.
3 Roberto Luongo
Of all the goalies on this list, Roberto Luongo is the closest to actually winning the Stanley Cup, when he was with the Vancouver Canucks and lost game seven of the 2011 cup final to the Boston Bruins. Luongo started his career with the New York Islanders in the 1999-00 season, but after only one season with them, he was traded to the Florida Panthers where he spent five seasons as their starter. In 2006, he was then traded to aforementioned Vancouver, where he also served as their number one for the better part of eight seasons before ultimately being traded back to Florida, where he continues to be the Panthers’ starter today. In his time with both Florida and Vancouver, Luongo has made the playoffs seven times, where he has played in 70 games, earning a 2.49 goals against average and .918 save percentage. At 37 years old, Luongo’s career will likely be coming to an end soon, which means his hopes of winning a cup likely rests with Florida.
2 Henrik Lundqvist
Like Nashville, the New York Rangers were extremely fortunate to find a franchise goaltender when they managed to take Henrik Lundqvist 205th overall in the 2000 draft. The Swedish born goalie continued to play in the Swedish Elite League for five years after being drafted, and when his time there was done, he entered the NHL at the start of the 2005-06 season. By the time the following season came, Lundqvist had become renowned for his work ethic and athletic ability, both of which have allowed him to remain one of the best goalies in the world for a full decade now. He has spent his entire eleven year career with the Rangers, and in that time he has won the league’s best goalie award once while being nominated for it several other times. While with New York, he has only missed the playoffs once, and has a 2.21 goals against average with a .921 save percentage in 116 games to show for it, but no Stanley Cup.
1 Carey Price
The past two and a half seasons have shown that Carey Price is without a doubt not only the best goalie currently in the NHL, but in the entire world as well. The Montreal Canadien selected Price with their 5th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and he did not begin playing for the team until the start of the 2007-08 season, and from the beginning, there seemed to be something very special in regards to his skills. As mentioned earlier, Jaroslav Halak had managed to outperform Price in the back-half of a season, but when it came time to choose, the Canadiens chose to keep Price as their number one goalie; which turned out to be the best decision. Price has been Montreal’s starting goalie since the 2010-11 season, where he has helped to lead the team into the playoffs six times, where he has so far garnered a .912 save percentage with a 2.61 goals against average in a combined 54 games. Like Halak, he still has not won a Stanley Cup, but if he is able to remain healthy, there is no doubt that at least one championship resides in his future.
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