Please take a look at the table above. That's four goalies' stats over the last three seasons, taken from hockey-reference.com. They all have a similar number of games played, two are from the Western Conference, and two are from the Eastern Conference. Considering all the variables, but must importantly (IMO) age, points percentage (points divided by maximum points), and save percentage, which goalie would you take from that lot?
- If you believe the old adage that money netminders don't hit their prime until age 30 or so, then the second and third goalies on that list look pretty good.
- If you believe GAA is a worthwhile state for comparing goalies across disparate systems, then you'll continue to chug the kool-aid and begin pining after Bachelor #3.
- If you enjoy pain and sorrow from a goaltending perspective, mystery man #4 looks like your cup of tea. Bland, lukewarm, English tea. No honey, no sugar.
- If you use a goalie trick called soft focus to try and see everything at once and not zero-in on any one stat/attribute, then you'd probably lead toward the guy at the top of that list.
Made your choices? I'll reveal the winners and losers after the jump.
Mystery netminder #2 is our own former Jose Benedict Theodore, aka Pimp Cane. Bachelor #3 is the hotly chased-after Cristobal "The Crystal Wall" Huet. Now the good news: #1 is our own Peter "Boots" Budaj. And now the bad: the bottom of that table is occupied by newly acquired Andrew "Razr" Raycroft.
I'm not a firm believer in GAA comparisons between teams or conferences, so Huet's numbers compared to Budaj in that category don't impress me all that much. Theo's numbers may not compare too well after a season in the East, especially the Southeast where he gets to see plenty of Mr.'s Lecavalier, Kovalchuk, Staal, St. Louis, etc., plus guys like Crosby and Malkin. At least he has Ovie on his team (which also means my man-crush on Alexander the Gr8 will be tainted by that back-stabbing, One-Night-in-Paris, hairy midget in net (I'm not bitter, I just don't have to tolerate him anymore!). But the real question in some Avs fans' minds is did the team make an error in trusting in Budaj over matching Theodore's contract demands? Here's a closer look at last season between the two goalies:
The important stats here are the Save Percentage (SPCT) and Expected Save Percentage (ESPCT). According to those numbers (taken from behindthenet.ca), Theo slightly over-performed, where Boots was consistent. The numbers guy at behindthenet.ca didn't have the same comparisons for the 2006-2007 season, but I'd bet Boots' numbers were MUCH better than Theo's across the board. As shown above (and via popular consensus on this blog and most others), Theo outperformed his historical showings last season, and Budaj STILL kept pace with him.
So to recap for all the lazy readers out there (and Joe, because he's so busy), Boot's was the silver medal winner of the four goalies in wins, points, points percentage, goals against, GAA, and save percentage. Theo finished behind Budaj in almost every category (granted, not that far behind), but most notably points percentage and GAA. But here's the real icing on the cake:
|Goaltender||Salary in Millions $|
That table, plus the second one, show why the Avs may have been REALLY smart in not coming up to Theo's terms. He and Boots had the same numbers, but Boots is much younger, and MUUUUUUUUUUUCH cheaper. The Avs fans who think our problem will be in net this season need to realize that keeping Theo wasn't any better of a solution than giving the reigns to Budaj. From a modern salary-cap standpoint, letting Theo walk was the BEST solution for moving the team forward. Also, chasing a guy like Huet would have been the WORST solution from a cap standpoint, IMO.
All that being said, I realize that this is an extremely narrow group for comparisons sake, but it's important to remember that this was the free agent pool (and let's be honest, Raycroft really wasn't a part of this pool by desire) for the Avs to pick from. All things considered, Huet priced himself out of anywhere but some of the most low-salary teams (like Chicago) and Theo priced himself out of Denver by asking for so much money compared to a goaltender who was on the books with nearly identical stats. I for one have no problems entering this season with Boots as the #1. I may be wrong, but it won't be because I went against the numbers, which as we all know, don't lie...