Friday, February 2, 2007

The "Incomparable" Martin Brodeur

Who is the most comparable goalie in the league to Martin Brodeur?

Hasek might seem like a reasonable choice because he has been outstanding for many years and his NHL career is roughly contemporary with Marty’s. Or maybe one could go back a few years to select Roy, the man who holds many of the records that Brodeur is currently pursuing. Others might prefer Belfour or Khabibulin or another one of the more recent Cup-winning goalies who are “winners” or “money goalies” or have some similar arbitrarily defined reputation. Some might pick Kiprusoff or Luongo because they are currently among the very best goalies in the league. Fawning analysts like TSN’s Glenn Healy might go so far as to claim that the very notion of comparing any current goalies with the legendary Martin Brodeur is grossly insulting.

Brodeur won back to back Vezinas in 2003 and 2004, and even scored a Hart Trophy nomination in 2004 as one of the three most valuable players in the entire league. Clearly the NHL general managers voting on the award were were thinking of Brodeur as a peer of Hasek and Roy (the only other two goalies to win back-to-back Vezinas since it changed to being voted on in 1982), both of whom are generally agreed upon to be among the best goalies to ever play the game.

The stats, however, tell a much different story, once you stop giving credit to Brodeur that should instead be directed to Messrs. Stevens, Niedermeyer, Madden, et al., through the use of shot-quality neutral save percentage.

Brodeur's closest comparables in shot-quality neutral save percentage in 2004 were these guys:

Brian Boucher, Dan Cloutier, Robert Esche, Martin Biron, Olaf Kolzig, and Rick DiPietro.

And in 2003:

Jose Theodore, Dan Cloutier, Marc Denis, Patrick Lalime, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Martin Biron.

Maybe that is why trade rumours are always swirling around Martin Biron – he’s as good as Martin Brodeur! NHL GMs take note, before Darcy Regier figures this out and the price goes up! (OK, not really, but that is quite an uninspiring group of goalies).

For those who might have been wondering, Luongo’s closest comparables were Patrick Roy in 2003 and Miikka Kiprusoff in 2004.

I’m just starting to begin to consider that maybe the voting went to the wrong guy. But then I remembered that Brodeur has won 3 Cups and an Olympic gold medal and my fears melted away. He must be the best.

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