Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Even-Strength Save Percentage

If anyone is looking for situational save percentage data, it can be found at or at Timeonice. The data goes back to 1998-99.

I've compiled the top 20 goalies with a minimum of 4000 even strength shots against. The league average over this span is .917.

Even-Strength Save Percentage Leaders since 1998-99:

RankGoalieEV SASV%
1.Dominik Hasek7,352.931
2.Roman Cechmanek4,091.931
3.Tim Thomas5,175.929
4.Patrick Roy6,164.929
5.Roberto Luongo12,083.929
6.J.S. Giguere9,377.926
7.Tomas Vokoun11,333.926
8.Kari Lehtonen4,777.925
9.Henrik Lundqvist5,397.925
10.Manny Fernandez6,724.923
11.Sean Burke7,399.923
12.Miikka Kiprusoff7,712.923
13.Evgeni Nabokov9,576.923
14.Ilja Bryzgalov4,068.923
15.Cristobal Huet4,570.923
16.David Aebischer4,387.923
17.Guy Hebert4,104.922
18.Marty Turco8,298.922
19.Martin Brodeur14,140.921
20.Martin Biron9,184.921


Dominik Hasek's even-strength save percentage in 1998-99 was .946. That is simply fantastic, and was at least .005 clear of every other season in this period.

Tim Thomas' Vezina Trophy season was no fluke, he is a very good goalie.

Kari Lehtonen is still the most underrated goalie in the NHL. Atlanta looks like an improved team heading into next season, so he should be primed for a good season. With some better support that will help turn that terrific save percentage into more noticeable things like wins and shutouts, I think Lehtonen is capable of challenging for a Vezina Trophy.

If Miikka Kiprusoff continues his decline, he'll be falling right off this chart by the end of next season. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Sean Burke and Guy Hebert were both underrated goalies.

Roman Cechmanek shows the perils of relying on your eyes to judge goaltending, or basing your impressions of a guy on a couple of playoff series. There are thousands of hockey fans who will tell you that he was a brutal goalie. Yet somehow over 4000 even strength shots he managed to stop pucks better than almost everyone else. Must have been one fantastic streak of luck if he wasn't that good.

More evidence of Martin Brodeur's upside-down career curve:
Brodeur, 1998-2004: .918 EV SV%, .916 league average
Brodeur, 2006-2009: .926 EV SV%, .918 league average

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Situational Averages

To further illustrate the importance of special team factors, here are the league average save percentages by game situation for the regular season and playoffs for the last 10 seasons:


The difference in save percentage between facing a shot at even strength and a shot on the penalty kill has consistently been about .050. There is also very little difference between expected save percentages at even strength and when a goalie's team is on the power play.

The save percentages give evidence of a more open game after the league resumed in 2005-06, but the overall quality of goaltending in the league today is pushing the EV SV% right back up to where it was in 2003-04.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Demise of Even Strength Shot Quality

Anybody who has read my recent stuff has surely noticed the increasing usage of even strength statistics. That's because there has been a lot of good evidence presented lately that team effects at even strength are pretty minimal. I think Vic Ferrari has dealt the final blow to even strength shot quality, by demonstrating that the observed EV save percentage differences between goalies switching teams is essentially identical to what would be predicted by pure randomness.

This doesn't necessarily mean that there aren't a few teams that are outliers, but if they do exist there doesn't seem to be much room for very many of them.

I tracked some shot quality data during the playoffs using my own quick method, and have to say that I was souring a bit on shot quality already just from going through that exercise. There seemed to me to be a few systemic flaws in the metric, situations where the actual scoring percentages were consistently quite different than expected, although some of it could likely be reduced by using a superior method.

For example, as I calculated it the expected shot quality was roughly equal in all three periods (.913, .917, and .916 respectively). However, the overall save percentage was lower in the second period (.903), which is what we would expect since the teams have the long change. It was also higher in the third period (.928), which is when the playing-to-the-score effects usually become more pronounced. It seems that a goalie might face the same 20 foot wrist shot, but the second period one is more likely to be on a 2 on 1 rush after his team got caught on a bad change, while the third period one might often be taken by an opposing forward focused on defending a lead and primarily looking for a faceoff to keep the puck in the offensive zone. I've argued before that those things would even out over a large enough sample, but it seems likely that some of the situational factors are persistent enough to have more of an impact on the percentages than expected.

The now-familar scoreboard effects were once again observed in the data, but they weren't accurately predicted by my shot quality model. When goalies were on teams that were leading by 1 or 2 goals after two periods of play, I had them at an expected save percentage of .918 in the third, and they did even better that that at .920. When trailing by 1 or 2, the expected was .912 and the actual was just .905. When either team was up by 3 goals or more, the average save percentage jumped to .934 as the leading team usually just ran out the clock, even though the expected save percentage was just .908. Again, these numbers could just be from one unusual postseaon. It's also possible that a more refined model does a better job of predicting these changes. However, it does seem that scoring probabilities consistently differ from overall averages in certain strategic situations.

One thing I wonder about is that if we throw out EV shot quality as useless for evaluating today's goalies, what should we do about goalies from past eras? Can we assume that Grant Fuhr's even strength shot quality against in Edmonton in 1987 was similar to Patrick Roy's in Montreal? Or that Ken Dryden would have faced the same shot difficulty at evens playing for the California Golden Seals as he did behind Montreal's "Big Three"?

I did a similar goalies changing teams analysis for the Original Six era, and it certainly looks to me that there was a pretty major difference between playing in Montreal or Toronto and playing in Boston or New York. I expect that the 1970s had such a lack of parity that there was a similar uneven playing field. I'd guess that it is only in the last 20 years or so that even strength save percentage could be considered roughly team independent, although who knows. After all, not too long ago I thought shot quality was still an important factor at even strength in today's NHL.

We don't have official even strength save percentage numbers from before that so it's difficult to test this out, although I've looked at a couple of ways to try to estimate them. That will have to be a study for another day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Goalie of the Decade

With 2010 approaching on the horizon, the lists are starting to pop up naming various people "of the decade". James O'Brien at Cycle Like the Sedins asked me a while back about who I thought should be goalie of the decade, and he included part of our email conversation in this post.

I picked Roberto Luongo, but I didn't really argue it particularly well. In retrospect, what I wish I had sent him was the following chart. I didn't have these numbers back then, but I have since put together the even strength save percentage leaders from '99-00 to '08-09, minimum 250 GP, with the number of shots faced with their playoff numbers thrown in for good measure:

1.Patrick Roy.9294,962.9341,414
2.Roberto Luongo.92912,083.936535
3.Dominik Hasek.9275,986.9351,223
4.Tomas Vokoun.92710,510.917276
5.J.S. Giguere.9279,046.9421,129
6.Henrik Lundqvist.9255,397.926658
7.Sean Burke.9256,158.905264
8.Manny Fernandez.9236,704.944214
9.Miikka Kiprusoff.9237,712.9341,199
10.Evgeni Nabokov.9239,576.9271,368
11.Marty Turco.9228,298.9311,027
12.Martin Brodeur.92212,770.9302,356
13.Martin Biron.9219,085.927604
14.Ryan Miller.9205,902.932775
15.Dwayne Roloson.9198,136.929644

I'd like to see the goalie of the decade finish at least somewhere in the top 10, wouldn't you? Brodeur is also just 9th in playoff EV SV% among the goalies on this list. I think I'm going to stick with Bobby Lou on this one.

Roy and Hasek are old guys here yet still show up at the top of the list, just to remind us how great they were.

The race for the second team spot is pretty tight. J.S. Giguere would probably be deserving, especially if you put a heavy weighting on playoff performance. Roy and Hasek would be in the mix, although they don't have as much playing time as some of the others. I expect if I factored in shot prevention effects that Turco and Brodeur would jump up to about the Lundqvist level, and at that point if you really like durability you could argue for Brodeur. The problem is that when we start splitting hairs over a couple thousandths of save percentages, then we're certainly painting in shades of grey. It may be true that there isn't a large variance in shot quality at even strength most of the time, but outliers do exist. There are also other variables like non-save skills and scorer biases that come into play, and even a small .002 or .003 effect for each netminder could significantly reshuffle the rankings.

It's about time for Tomas Vokoun to start getting some recognition. With his great performances on a lousy Florida team, he's pretty much Roberto Luongo V2.0. With Kiprusoff's recent slide out of elite territory, Vokoun looks like a clear top-5 guy to me.

Finally, Martin Biron is another goalie that seems to get maligned by people for no good reason. Moving him out to make room for Ray Emery and Brian Boucher strikes me as an unwise gamble. I'd probably take Antero Niittymaki over either Emery or Boucher, yet Philadelphia let him walk out the door as well. We'll see how their goaltending ends up working out for them next season.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Respect for Huet

There are a few explanations being floated around to explain the surprise firing of Dale Tallon in Chicago. The failure to send out qualifying offers to the Hawks' RFAs is an obvious possible explanation, but others feel that it was the backroom machinations of Scotty Bowman or the result of some of the big-money contracts Tallon has handed out, including those to Brian Campbell, Marian Hossa, and Cristobal Huet.

The latter reason, if it is indeed the case, is a bit curious to me. I agree he overspent wildly on Campbell, but I don't think the Hossa or Huet deals were that bad. Bringing in another goalie with Khabibulin already on the roster might have struck many as strange, but Chicago had cap room to spare last season, and now that Khabibulin has moved on the question simply becomes whether or not Cristobal Huet is worth that money. I wouldn't commit $5.6 million to a goalie unless he was a top-of-the-line elite guy with some good years still on the table, which means I probably wouldn't have signed Huet. But while the deal might not have been the optimal use of cap resources for Chicago I don't think it was that out of line given comparable deals and Huet's past history.

In the wake of the first few days of free agency, many fans and media were of the opinion that the Blackhawks would have been a top Stanley Cup contender next year except for the loss of Khabibulin. In their eyes, having the goalie with the third best save percentage in the league over the last 4 seasons isn't a suitable backup plan. Cristobal Huet is a perennially underrated goalie, a guy who has always been criticized by people who focus more on how he looks making the save and not enough on whether or not the puck goes in. A think a good description of his style was made by 2009 draft pick Edward Pasquale, who called Huet a "relaxed goalie". Playing a relaxed style sometimes makes it look like all your saves are easy and that you didn't try very hard when a puck goes past you. The latter criticism ("He always lets in soft goals!") has often been targeted at Huet.

TV "analyst" Pierre McGuire called Huet a "marginal goaltender" on free agency day, and has been claiming that the league has "solved" Huet since 2007. According to him Huet is really easy to score on if you shoot high.

I don't disagree that Huet's glove hand is average at best, and probably even a bit worse than that, but since 1998-99 Cristobal Huet has the third best penalty kill save percentage of any goalie in the league (min. 4000 SA). On the power play the opponents have the time and space to take advantage of your weaknesses - why aren't they exposing Huet with the extra man? Could it be because they simply can't? Downgrading a goalie because you can beat him high glove is outdated and old-fashioned thinking. Back in the day anything aimed glove-side was a goal unless you caught it, but modern goalies can compensate for not having a terrific catching glove by relying on positioning and blocking techniques, as well as making up some ground by allowing fewer goals than average along the ice. Henrik Lundqvist is another example of a guy who succeeds despite people saying it is so easy to score on him high glove.

Huet also gets derided as not being a great pressure goalie, mainly because his team has never won a playoff series with him as the starter. That shouldn't really fall too much on Huet, though, who was a career .917 postseason save percentage. In his 10 career playoff losses, Huet had a .914 mark, and the main problem was that his team scored just 1.45 goals per 60 minutes and allowed 33.6 shots per game. Huet hasn't been particularly good in playoff OT (1-5 record), but that is again mostly the fault of his teammates, who have scored just 1 goal for him in 63 minutes and have allowed shots against at a remarkable rate of 49 shots per 60 minutes of OT. With that kind of support, blaming Huet seems unfair to me.

All this negative talk is mostly a result of a bad first impression in Chicago. Going 3-5-2, 2.97, .897 over the first 2 months of the season will generally do that, especially when at the same time Khabibulin was lighting it up. The doubters then came crawling out of the woodwork to kick Huet while he was down and get in their "I told you so"s, and the perception remained even as he raised his game over the remainder of the season.

If you look at their past recent history, there is every reason to believe that the Bulin Wall was playing over his head and Huet was having an off-year. Since 1998-99, Khabibulin's even strength save percentage has been .920, and over the last 3 seasons he's been at the same .920 mark. That's pretty good evidence of his actual skill level, so there's not a whole lot of reason to expect him to duplicate his .933 from 2008-09. If anything at the age of 36 we should expect him to be declining.

Huet has a career .923 even strength save percentage, with a .922 mark over the last three seasons. He's certainly at the very least in Khabibulin's range, and has the advantage of being 2 years younger. Because he split starts this season, Huet faced just 805 EV shots last year. Typically the smaller the sample size the larger the variance, and the difference between Huet's recent established performance and his .916 EV SV% in 2008-09 was only about 5 goals over the whole season, a handful of bounces here and there. If Huet had managed to save 5 extra goals, his seasonal numbers would improve to 2.40, .914, pretty much within spitting distance of Khabibulin's 2.33, .919. I'd guess Huet will end up in the area of .914 this coming season, while age and team factors might very well drop Khabibulin down to around the league average of .908.

I think Chicago's decision to let Khabibulin walk and bank on Huet was pretty easy. If there was a prop bet available to predict which of Khabibulin and Huet would have the higher save percentage next year, I'd bet on Huet. I think Chicago is going to be just fine in net in 2009-10.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2002 Wings vs. 2001 Devils

This topic came up in one of the comment threads a while back and I promised a post on it, so here it is.

According to one particular brand of mythology, Dominik Hasek played on a ridiculously stacked Detroit team in 2002, and his Cup win was entirely because of his fantastic teammates. In contrast Martin Brodeur, some say, played a huge role in all of his Cup wins and never had the same level of excellent team support.

I think that the best team that either Hasek or Brodeur ever played for was probably the 2001 New Jersey Devils. If you include the goalies in the analysis it's pretty close, but comparing only the 18 skaters on the 2001 Devils with the 18 skaters on the 2002 Wings I think the Devils were better. That may seem blasphemous because the Devils didn't have 10 future Hall of Famers, but here are the statistics:

'01 Devils: 48-19-12-3, 111 pts
'02 Wings: 51-17-10-4, 116 pts

Goal Differential:
'01 Devils: 3.60 G/G, 2.38 GA/G, +1.22 G/G
'02 Wings: 3.06 G/G, 2.28 GA/G, +0.78 G/G

'01 Devils: 31.6 S/G, 24.7 SA/G, +6.9 Diff, outshot opp 60 times
'02 Wings: 31.0 S/G, 26.3 SA/G, +4.7 Diff, outshot opp 50 times

5 on 5 Play:
'01 Devils: 152 GF, 127 GA, +25
'02 Wings: 149 GF, 121 GA, +28

Special Teams:
'01 Devils: PP: 22.9% (1st), PK: 84.6% (12th)
'02 Wings: PP: 20.3% (2nd), PK: 86.0% (7th)

Penalty Kill:
'01 Devils: 1.0 SA per PP, .861 PK SV%*
'02 Wings: 1.3 SA per PP, .889 PK SV%

*-Had to estimate shots faced by Brodeur's backups since they got traded midseason and combines stats for players with multiple teams.

'01 Devils: .905 save %, 2.32 GAA
'02 Wings: .914 save %, 2.22 GAA

Those very impressive New Jersey statistics seem to indicate that the Devils' skaters were remarkably effective. They were a better offensive team than Detroit, they were better at outshooting their opponents, they had a better power play and it looks like the only reason they didn't have a better penalty kill as well was because Detroit got more saves from their goalies.

There is an argument to be made that the weakest part of that New Jersey team was the goalie, given that save percentage was just about the only thing that wasn't well above average. Not that the goalie himself was weak, just that everything around him was better.

If the numbers indicate that New Jersey was better at most areas of the game, why did Detroit have a better record? It is mainly because they were either "unclutch" or unlucky in close games. The Devils were 12-10-3 in one-goal games, compared to the Red Wings' record of 20-6-4. In games decided by 2 goals or more, which tends to be a better measure of a team's strength than their record in one-goal games, the Devils were a fantastic 36-9, compared to 31-11 for the Red Wings.

In the playoffs, both teams were dominant in the early rounds against lower seeds. The successes of both teams came down to a series against the Colorado Avalanche, one of which was a Cup Final and one of which was the de facto Cup Final (no offence to the 2002 Carolina Hurricanes). Both series went 7, with New Jersey losing 3-1 and Detroit walking away with a 7-0 blowout.

That gives us a strong common opponent to measure both teams against. The NHL tracked the amount of time the puck spent in each zone back then, and those numbers show that both teams were dominant in terms of controlling puck possession, even against a powerful opponent like Colorado:

Detroit: 40% off. zone, 35% def. zone, 25% neut. zone
New Jersey: 41% off. zone, 33% def. zone, 26% neut. zone

Detroit spent 9% of the time on the power play and 11% on the penalty kill. New Jersey spent 11% of the time with the extra man and 14% on the PK. The Devils didn't have to go against Forsberg, but the Wings didn't have to go against Bourque. All things considered the Devils probably had a slight relative edge in territory although Detroit did a better job of getting shots to the net, outshooting Colorado 223-168 in their series compared to Devils' margin of 178-146.

The reason Colorado beat New Jersey and lost to Detroit was simply percentages. New Jersey scored on just 6.2% of their shots while the '01 Avs scored on 13.0% of theirs, enough to make up the shot gap. The '02 Avs held the edge in percentages right up until Patrick Roy got lit up in game 7, which turned it around so that overall Detroit shot 9.9% and Colorado just 7.7%.

If you were a goalie trying to win the Stanley Cup, would you rather have the '01 Devils or the '02 Wings in front of you? Detroit did better than New Jersey did in their respective series against Colorado, but if I was going into a postseason without knowing what teams I was going to face I'd pick the Devils because I think they were the stronger team.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why Is Josh Harding 19-27-4?

Bruce from Oil Droppings asked me if I had any thoughts on Josh Harding's poor win/loss record. Given that there are trade rumours circling around Harding, an RFA, I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look. Over the last two seasons, Harding has put up some very nice save stats, but the team has had much more success with Niklas Backstrom in net.

Backstrom: 70-37-16, 2.32, .921
Harding: 14-24-3, 2.68, .916

At first glance, it doesn't make much sense that Harding's record would be that poor and Backstrom's would be that strong given that they were just .005 apart in save percentage.

The first thing I like to look at when evaluating backups is how they did in games they started vs. relief appearances. Apparently Jacques Lemaire has a quick hook, as Harding had quite a few of those over the last two seasons. A lot of goalies do worse when they come into games but not Josh Harding, who made the most of his relief opportunities:

Starts: 13-20-3, 2.83, .912, 32.0 SA/60
Relief: 1-4-0, 1.68, .944, 29.9 SA/60

This shows that Harding's relief appearances were skewing his numbers a bit, both by making his overall numbers look better and his win/loss numbers look worse. Harding faced fewer and likely easier shots when he came in as a substitute, and yet was tagged with 4 losses. In two of those losses, Harding only let in 1 goal and in the other 2 he was only beaten twice, so it's difficult to blame him too much for those games since the main reason he "lost" them was because Backstrom had already dug the team into a hole. In Harding's relief win, he came in against the Detroit Red Wings after Backstrom gave up 4 goals in 28 minutes, and stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Wild won in a shootout. Because of Harding's relief appearances, Backstrom likely got away with 5 fewer losses on his record than he would have otherwise had if he was made to finish what he started.

The second thing to look at with backup goalies is strength of opposition. Often backups play easier opponents. That was not the case for Josh Harding, however. His average opponent as a starter had 93 points, and 22 of his 36 starts were against playoff teams. As might be expected, Harding's record was much worse against stronger opponents, 7-13-2 against playoff qualifiers compared to 6-7-1 against non-playoff teams.

Harding's goal support was 2.48 per 60 minutes. Minnesota's overall goalscoring rate was 2.62 goals per 60, meaning that Backstrom had the advantage of about 2.66 goals per 60. This difference likely partially reflects the opposition each goalie faced. Once we take out Harding's relief appearances and adjust for his relatively difficult schedule, his record makes a lot more sense relative to Backstrom's.

We can estimate what each goalie's record should be by using the Pythagorean expected points formula, which is GF^2/(GF^2+GA^2) and then modified to reflect the loser points available in the new NHL. I calculated an expected winning percentage of .625 for Backstrom and .478 for Harding, compared to their actuals of .634 and .403 respectively. We see that Backstrom's record is not unusual, especially if we take into account the losses that Harding saved him. In contrast, Harding falls well short of his projection.

This means that either Harding was unlucky with the distribution of goals for and against while he was in net, or he played poorly at key times in the game.

Part of it was the distribution. Minnesota scored 49 goals in Harding's 13 wins, and just 30 goals in his 20 regulation losses. Harding had a record of 4-8-3 in one-goal games. That can likely be partially attributed to bad luck, as winning close games is something Minnesota usually does pretty well (Backstrom was 38-13-16 in one-goal games).

Minnesota is a team that is good at locking it down when leading after 2, and struggles to come back when trailing after 2, so their record after 2 periods is likely to be a good indicator. Here is Harding's record compared to Backstrom's record when leading/trailing after 2:

Leading after 2: Harding 10-0-1 (.955), Backstrom 49-1-4 (.944)
Trailing after 2: Harding 1-13-2 (.125), Backstrom 6-33-5 (.193)
Tied after 2: Harding 2-7-0 (.222), Backstrom 14-7-7 (.625)

There are two main differences: With Backstrom in net, Minnesota was in the lead a lot more often after 2 periods, which I think reflects the difference in performance between the two goalies. Secondly, Minnesota was way more likely to come out on top when the game was tied after two periods.

Those records are so disparate that I simply had to look into how both goalies and their teammates did in the third periods and overtimes when the game was tied:

Backstrom: 21 GF, 20 GA, 8.2% SH, .930 SV%
Harding: 4 GF, 12 GA, 4.7% SH, .874 SV%

Backstrom clearly outplayed Harding here, although he did also get more support. There were quite a few games where Minnesota didn't score, yet Backstrom kept it at zeroes to earn at least a loser point. Harding nearly always let in at least one third period goal, and most of the time his team didn't bail him out.

I wouldn't be too worried about Harding's record, if I was pursuing him for my team. This is such a small sample size that I doubt it tells us much about Harding's ability to play in close games. He was likely just unfortunate to have some poor results over a few high-leverage minutes while his teammates were simultaneously shooting blanks, resulting in a poor record. There were several times when Harding was terrific late in the third, holding down the fort as Minnesota was getting heavily outshot. If Harding had managed to extend a few more of those games to overtime or a shootout, and ended up with a record of something like 3-3-3 in third period ties, then his overall win/loss record as a starter would have been about right given the goals for and against in his games.

I would downgrade Harding a bit after taking into account his performance in games he entered the game as a backup. His career stats in starts are a bit worse than his overall stats, and are likely a better indicator of what can be expected from him in the future:

Harding, career: 2.49, .920
Harding, starter only: 2.64, .917

That means Niklas Backstrom is also probably a bit better than a quick comparison vs. backups would suggest.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Look at UFA Goalies: Is Craig Anderson a Starter?

One of the most interesting free agent goaltenders this year is Craig Anderson, the Florida understudy who has put up some eye-popping stats as a backup over the last 3 seasons (24-14-7, 2.52, .928).

I don't think Anderson will continue to put up those numbers if he was given a shot at a #1 job, because they are likely at least to some degree a result of a smaller sample size. However, the evidence does suggest that he is a legitimate NHL goalie.

Even if you don't trust his most recent couple of years, his .920 save percentage over his last 3,000 shots against at the AHL level is evidence of a goalie that is very good at the minor-league level. Florida must also hold Anderson in fairly high regard, since he managed to take 27 starts away from one of the league's best goalies in Tomas Vokoun.

Two areas we have to usually be concerned about when evaluating backup goalies are whether their numbers have been impacted by their performance in relief appearances, and whether they are playing easier opponents. The first one is not an issue for Anderson as his numbers are very similar both in games he starts and games he enters. Opposition hasn't been a concern either, over the last 2 years 21 of Anderson's 40 starts have come against playoff teams, which is a decent ratio considering that only 3 of Florida's 8 divisional opponents over that time span ended up making the playoffs.

Last year Anderson actually did much better against playoff teams (4-2-0, 1.82, .949). This year he fattened his stats a bit on the weaker teams (8-1-2, 2.08, .940), and had a few rough outings against some elite opponents (7-6-2, 3.18, .913 against playoff teams). I think a team that signed him to a bargain price would be pretty happy even if he could just hold onto that .913.

Anderson just turned 28, so age is not an issue. I think I'd place my bets on him if I had a team that was up against the cap and needed goaltending help. I think Anderson should be at least capable of putting up league average numbers over an entire season. It's difficult to fully assess his ability at this point until we get more information, but what is there looks pretty promising.

Here are some of the other key UFA goalies and their salaries from last year, as well as their even-strength save percentages and number of even-strength shots faced since 1998-99:

Wade Dubielewicz ($0.500): .929, 817 SA
Ty Conklin ($0.750): .924, 2930 SA
Manny Fernandez ($4.333): .923, 6724
Martin Biron ($3.500): .921, 9184 SA
Craig Anderson ($0.575): .921, 2290 SA
Nikolai Khabibulin ($6.750): .920, 9734
Dwayne Roloson ($3.000): .920, 8506 SA
Martin Gerber ($3.700): .920, 4726 SA
Scott Clemmensen ($0.500): .920, 1364 SA
Manny Legace ($2.500): .919, 6343 SA
Mathieu Garon ($1.000): .918, 4192 SA
Kevin Weekes ($0.700): .916, 6763 SA
Brent Johnson ($0.825): .916, 4619 SA
Curtis Sanford ($0.650): .916, 1895 SA
Andrew Raycroft ($0.800): .914, 4644 SA
Jason Labarbera ($0.800): .912, 2104 SA
Brian Boucher ($0.650): .910, 4703 SA
Antero Niittymaki ($1.375): .910, 3315 SA
Joey MacDonald ($0.500): .908, 1592 SA

(Source: UFAs and salaries from HFBoards, ES SV% stats from

League average over the period has been .917, so none of the guys are close to the elite level, but a few of them are serviceable starters. I wouldn't mind too much having Roloson, Khabibulin, or Biron in my net next season, although I wouldn't sign any of them to long-term deals or pay them anything more than $2-3 million. Fernandez should also be able to provide somebody with average play.

The goalies teams might want to roll the dice on would be Dubielewicz, Conklin, Anderson, and Clemmensen (or Jonas Gustafsson, of course, but that's another discussion). Of those 4, I'd probably rate Anderson as the best bet at being able to fill a starter's role, although I wouldn't hesitate at all to sign Conklin as a backup. The other two likely got somewhat lucky over a small sample size. Dubiewelicz is intriguing, he has a .920 career AHL save percentage and has been pretty decent in some NHL spot duty, although I'd like to see more. Clemmensen was pretty ordinary in the AHL last year and doesn't have the supporting minor league numbers; I'd be very leery of him as a small sample size fluke last year playing on a team that has typically been a potential shot quality outlier.