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Top 10 rookie seasons by goalies in the salary cap era

Josh Elliott
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Frederik Andersen (Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Top 10 rookie seasons by goalies in the salary cap era

Josh Elliott
By:

The success of sophomore Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen this year should come as no surprise. Andersen’s stellar start to his career last year ranks among the best rookie seasons by a goaltender in the salary cap era.

Frederik Andersen is tearing it up this young season as the newly-anointed starting goaltender for the Anaheim Ducks. His stellar play has banished all thoughts of the departed Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth, and he’s stabilized the Anaheim net enough to ease the expectations placed on goalie of the future John Gibson.

The 25-year-old Dane is rocking it in every statistical category there is right now. Andersen has won all six games he’s played this season, posting a mighty .951 save percentage and a 1.32 goals-against average. He also has a shutout this season against the St. Louis Blues.

But that performance should come as little surprise after his strong rookie campaign last year, as Andersen’s 2013-14 numbers put him among some of the best rookie goalies of the salary cap era.

Check out the lofty company Andersen now keeps with his rookie numbers.

10. Ryan Miller (2005-06, Buffalo Sabres)

Ryan Miller got a taste of NHL action with the Sabres in 2002-03 and 2003-04, but he wasn’t quite ready for the big-time at that point.

Then the lockout hit, and Miller spent the season posting 41 wins in 63 games with the Buffalo Sabres’ American League affiliate in Rochester.

Miller hit the NHL ready to play after the lockout, usurping Martin Biron for the Sabres' starting job and winning 30 games in 48 appearances while posting a .914 save percentage, 2.60 goals-against average and one shutout. His play was good enough to get the Sabres back in the playoffs after three straight seasons of missing out.

Miller’s numbers ballooned a bit in the playoffs (.908 save percentage, 2.56 goals-against average), but he still backstopped the plucky Sabres to the third round.

9. Steve Mason (2008-09, Columbus Blue Jackets)

Steve Mason’s rookie year set a daunting benchmark for the rest of his career, not so much because of his numbers, but because of the Calder Trophy he took home after the season.

Mason’s 33 wins in 61 games weren’t the best in the league, but he played a huge part in getting the Columbus Blue Jackets into the post-season for the first time in franchise history.

Mason put up a .916 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average that year – numbers he’s struggled to repeat the rest of his career.

Oh, and he led all NHL goalies that year with 10 shutouts.

8. Pekka Rinne (2008-09, Nashville Predators)

Legend has it, the Nashville Predators drafted Pekka Rinne 258th overall in 2004 based largely on video they acquired of him playing in Finland.

And boy, were they happy to see him in the flesh on a regular basis in 2008-09, when the 6-foot-5, 204-pound giant of a goalie seized the Nashville net with authority.

Rinne played won 29 games in 52 appearances, posting a .923 save percentage and 2.29 goals-against average along with seven shutouts.

7. Frederik Andersen (2013-14, Anaheim Ducks)

It seemed like anyone who put on a Ducks jersey and strapped on the pads in 2013-14 was good for a few NHL wins, but Andersen proved himself to be more than just a competent goalie behind a great roster of skaters.

Andersen won 20 games in 27 appearances as backup to Jonas Hiller and got the majority of the starts in the playoffs, too.

Andersen’s .923 save percentage and 2.29 goals-against average in the regular season were better than Hiller’s (.911 SV% and 2.48 GAA), and that made Hiller expendable in the off-season. It also let the Ducks move 2012-13 backup Viktor Fasth at the trade deadline.

Andersen may have ceded the net to John Gibson as the playoffs wore on, but he still played more games (seven) than Hiller or Gibson in the post-season.

6. Cory Schneider (2010-11, Vancouver Canucks)

If you don’t know the Cory Schneider-Roberto Luongo saga, you’ve been living in a cave for the last four years.

Schneider’s .929 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average were only marginally behind starter Roberto Luongo’s in 2010-11, as the long-incubating Schneider made the jump from prospect to NHLer during the Canucks’ Presidents’ Trophy-winning season and run to the Stanley Cup final.

Schneider famously usurped Luongo for a brief spell in the playoffs that year, but the elder netminder ultimately regained the net for the deciding Game 7 showdown with the eventual champion Boston Bruins in the final round.

5. Carey Price (2007-08, Montreal Canadiens)

Highly-touted fifth overall pick from 2005 Carey Price made his NHL debut with the Habs by splitting time with Cristobal Huet in the regular season. Price edged out Huet with 41 appearances to Huet’s 39, and won 24 games to Huet’s 21 in helping the Canadiens make the playoffs after a down season.

Price’s rookie save percentage was .920, his goals-against average was 2.56 and he boasted three shutouts by season's end – enough to earn him starting goalie duties for two playoff rounds.

4. Corey Crawford (2010-11, Chicago Blackhawks)

Corey Crawford is the second name on Cristobal Huet’s list of super ex-backups to take his job.

The Blackhawks loaned Huet to Europe to get out from under his contract after their Stanley Cup win in 2010, and Crawford rose up to take the spot Huet left behind for the 2010-11 season.

Crawford posted 33 wins, a .922 save percentage, a 2.24 goals-against average and a shutout in 57 appearances as the top netminder for the Hawks, with Marty Turco serving as his veteran backup. His numbers got even better in the playoffs (.927 SV%, 2.21 GAA), but the Blackhawks still lost in the first round to Vancouver.

3. Henrik Lundqvist (2005-06, New York Rangers)

Picked 205th overall by New York in 2000, Henrik Lundqvist joined the Rangers after the first lockout and took the league by storm, winning 30 games in 53 appearances and posting a .922 save percentage, 2.24 goals-against average and two shutouts.

‘King Henrik’ had numbers to rival Dominik Hasek and Miikka Kiprusoff that year, and finished as a Vezina Trophy finalist. But in a year when Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were also making their rookie debuts, the Swedish netminder wasn’t even a finalist for the Calder.

2. Jimmy Howard (2009-10, Detroit Red Wings)

Drafted 64th overall in 2003, Jimmy Howard had to wait a long time to get a shot at sticking with the Detroit Red Wings. He had a few cups of coffee with the Wings in the years after he was drafted, but he had to wait until 2009 to get full-time work.

After losing out on the Stanley Cup the year before, the Red Wings were ready to slide Chris Osgood into the backup role, opening the door for Howard to show his stuff.

Howard played 63 games and posted 37 wins – more than anyone else on this list – behind a championship-caliber Red Wings team. He also registered a .924 save percentage, 2.26 goals-against average and three shutouts to help the Wings cruise into the playoffs.

Howard backstopped the Red Wings for two playoff rounds that year before they were eliminated.

1. Tuukka Rask (2009-10, Boston Bruins)

Tuukka Rask made his full-time NHL debut in 2009-10 as a backup to reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas in Boston. That’s a tough act to follow, but Rask proved more than up for the challenge.

Rask started 39 games that year and stepped in to finish off six other games when Thomas struggled. The younger goalie also posted better numbers than his elder in almost every statistical category.

Rask won 22 games, matched Thomas for shutouts (five each), and notched a .931 save percentage and 1.97 goals-against average. Thomas, meanwhile, had a .915 save percentage and 2.56 goals-against average.

Rask continued to usurp Thomas in the playoffs, playing all 13 games for the Bruins and putting up a .912 save percentage and 2.61 goals-against average en route to a second-round exit.

Rask grudgingly surrendered the net to Thomas again for the Bruins’ Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season, but now he’s the man again in Boston.

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Top 10 rookie seasons by goalies in the salary cap era