Most underrated goalies

Being a former Jr. goaltender, I thought it would be cool to pay homage to some of the most underated goalies I’ve seen past and present.

I’m sure, you will have a ton of your own opinions. I’m listing the goalie and team he was on when at his most underated best:

70’s – Gilles Meloche (Seals), Dan Bouchard (Flames), Gary Smith (Canucks), Glenn Resch (Islanders), Gilles Villemure (Rangers)

80’s – Ed Mio (Rangers), Roland Melanson (Islanders), Pete Peeters (Bruins), Glen Hanlon (Rangers)

90’s – Rick Tabbaracci (Capitals), Bill Ranford (Oilers), Garth Snow (Flyers), Tom Barrassso (Penguins), Kirk McClean (Canucks)

Now – Martin Prusek (Senators), Brian Boucher (Coyotes)

95 Responses to Most underrated goalies

  1. fiveforfighting says:

    For reason of impartiality i will NOT mention any of my opinions of underated goaltenders.

    However I must mention to all of you that underrated players should be based on merit rather than preference.

    Some of the goalies that have been mentioned were not underrated, some were just plain crap.

    A pilon would have sufficed in their places.

    Thats my bit.

    Remember this is a hockey forum, ment to communicate intelligent dialogue, not conflict.

    Contribute to the quality of commentary and information. Detract from it.

  2. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    all of these, except for wregget were good additions.

  3. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    underated refers to whether or not they are WIDELY recognized as being very good. NOT about what they actually accomplished.

    Peeters, is not recognized (for example in the way Grant Fuhr is) as having been a great goalie. But he was.

    Snow is a much better goalie than ANYONE gives him credit for being. You guys look at stats and other things like that, because they are the only was you know how to judge. I WAS a Jr goalie. I know how to watcha goalies game, and know if he’s good.

    Barrasso, is (similar to Peeters) not as widely regarded as he should be, by the masses.

    Prusek is likely going to be the best goalie in the NHL. Somebody should trrade for him now, and make him there # 1 guy.

  4. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    read my reply to nyi37kes above, and you’ll understand why it IS neccessary to mention that to you guys.

    i can see things that you can’t.

  5. FlamesRock says:

    Rick Tabaracci also spent time with the Lightning and Flames in the 90s.

  6. Amcan says:

    Oh I have. You need to research better comebacks

  7. Tweek says:

    agree with yer denis claim, he’s a good one

  8. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    read what i wrote, and you will see that i said i would name THE TEAM the goalie was on, when at his best.

  9. Homunculous says:

    If Chechmanek gets his mental part down he will be right there with Boucher as the best goalies in hockey, but then agian the Kings and Coyotes have new goalies for a reason.

  10. cgolding says:

    yep… vicious cycle.

  11. cgolding says:

    read my reply to nyi37kes above, and you’ll understand why it IS neccessary to mention that to you guys.

    i can see things that you can’t.

    make correct and intelligent comments and you will gain respect, without qualifying them with “i played junior’s…” that’s like being the prick in the room name dropping every chance he gets, it’s bush league and unnecessary.

    if you make consistent comments that are accurate and inciteful, your opinions will speak for themselves. some of the stupidest people i’ve ever heard talk about sports are the ones that played the sport at a high level. just because you were a good player, does not make you a good analyst, or talent evaluator… just means you were good at playing the game.

    you THINK you can see things that i can’t, but at the same time you throw in two sub par goalies in Brian Boucher and Garth Snow(can read my comments on the two above)… you are entitled to your opinion, but the fact that you played junior hockey doesn’t make it a correct opinion, look at Don Cherry… utter moron.

    so my bit of advice is gain respect off your comments, don’t try to purchase it by throwing “i played juniors” into everything you say like it should astonish and bring about devotion to what you say.

    hell… catch a Flyers broadcast sometime and you’ll understand how idiotic former NHL players can be in their evaluation of the game… and they played NHL, so they can see things that YOU can’t.


  12. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    i was a GOALIE. that is why i can see ability in GOALIES. cherry, dornhoffer, and the others you referenced, cannot see in goalies, what a GOALIE can.

    Nor can you.

    My comments on all of them, ARE accurate. Snow and Boucher included.

  13. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    tabbaracci in some early to mid 90’s playoff games, played some of the best games i have ever seen a goaltender play

  14. cgolding says:

    My comments on all of them, ARE accurate. Snow and Boucher included.

    in YOUR opinion. you say you can look past stats, which sometimes works… but the expression, “stats don’t lie” is a pretty accurate one. ultimately hockey is a sport won and lost by numbers, as in goals.


    guy has all the physical talents in the world… but his head is horrible and his numbers have been pathetic since his first season in the league. in fact, since his first season he has a some .900 svpct which is the most important stats when it comes to goalies, and even mediocre goalies in the league have been putting up .900 svpct easily over the course of boucher’s career.

    i hope he turns it around, he’s still young. but he hasn’t been very succesfull in stopping the puck, which is really the barometer for saying how good a goalie is. if you are in the later half of the league in that pretty important facet of being a goalie… well, you aren’t underrated, you are in fact not very good compared to the rest of the NHL talent.


    as a flyer fan i still have nightmares of his years here, so saying he is a) underrated, and b) his best years were with the flyers is humorous. the flyers have TWO friggin cups in their pockets if they had a competent goalie here during snow’s tenure, we simply got destroyed by the hexy/snow tandem in the playoffs.

    back to whether or not he’s “underrated,” which is your opinion and is fine. we are talking about a guy who covers a HUGE amount of the net, being that he is 6’3″ and then adds a massive amount of padding to his body… and he did that as a flyer, he was practically wearing sails attached to his shoulders. career .902 svpct.

    isn’t the definition of underrated a guy that does a good job, but no one recognizes it? a .902 svpct is once again nothing spectacular, in the stat that judges a guys ability to stop pucks sent in his general direction(including the redline which he has had a noted problem in stopping)… he’s a good backup, but has crumbled horribly in big spots in the past… and never in his career shined when given the role to make a statement.

    but whatever man. i wasn’t attacking your opinions, just your necessity to puff yourself up with your junior goalie status. neverminding that guys who are skaters have to think about what a goalie is doing just as much as a goalie… why? cuz they are trying to score on the friggin goalies…. so it sorta innate that they have knowledge of goalies and what they do that is good and bad… just cuz someone doesn’t play a specific position doesn’t mean they don’t have to worry about another… and know just as much about it.

    for example… who are the best pitching coaches in baseball?


  15. cgolding says:

    who are some the best pitching coaches in baseball?


  16. raine_kalisz says:

    grahame lets in a lot of soft goals, a lot! However he can make spectacular saves and makes a lot of routine saves look difficult. He’s got a weak five whole and slow reaction time. The thing is he has an amazing team in front of him and if he had worse numbers then i’d question his ability to be an NHL starter. He’s too inconsistenent to be considered a top goalie.

  17. raine_kalisz says:

    toskala is incredible. He’s so fast and acrobatic as well as techniquelly sound. The only thing working against him is his size. Much the same can be said for Legace. Small goalies usually draw the short straw.

  18. raine_kalisz says:

    Biron is too inconsistent, but Moog for sure was underrated.

  19. raine_kalisz says:

    I agree, if denis was given the chance on a good team he’d be a top 5 goalie.

  20. raine_kalisz says:

    I don’t see Noronen making it. He reminds me too much of Cechmanek, and his performance at the World Champ’s where he flubbed on every shot vs. Canada doesn’t inspire much confidence.

  21. raine_kalisz says:

    Guy Hebert, Damian Rhodes and Puppa. I remember watching these guys. They were incredible but all played on medicore to baaad teams, and then were stricken with injury.

  22. berserker17 says:

    I have to agree with cgolding. I don’t think just because you were a Junior goalie makes you a better judge of goalie talent than any other positional player. A great forward with a handful of videos is in my opinion( I was a half-assed d-man in recreational league, ok there’s my qualification) is as good if not better than a junior goalie as a judge of talent. As a goalie, it’s not required to know how the opposing goalie stops puck A shooter needs to analyze any tendencies the goalie makes, to take advantage of it.

    Snow was easy to knock off his game. Get a couple pucks(maybe 3) by him & you had the game won. He wasn’t a good stopper, partly because of his temper.

  23. Pelle_Lindbergh says:

    hey man, I’m all for intelligent dialogue.

    You need to

    bust out the speak & spell before you post though!

    ment? nice try

    And I think Rich Pilon would come and beat you up for mistaking him for a PYLON.

  24. raine_kalisz says:

    Marc Denis, Vesa Toskala, Jussi Markannen and Chris Mason.

    Denis is an incredible goalie. Big with good positioning, quick relfexes, and calm demeanor. The way he plays, stance and everything reminds me so much of Patrick Roy. If his team gave him some help Colombus would be a contender.

    Toskala is a smooth goalie. He comes in after 20 games with no action and puts on performances. He has an incredible ability to play strong even after long rests. And if anyone follows the sharks they know how good this guy is. Back at the start of the year Nabokov went down and toskala came in and played incredible. It was his stint that turned the year around for the sharks. Nabokov came back and elevated his play, but i don’t think it would have happened if toskala didn’t come in and play so well first.

    Markannen is the epotime of the solid goalie. He is consistent as consistent can be. He played great this year and in previous years and has always had an at least .900 save percentage. I think if he’d been given the nod of duhnam then maybe the rangers would have done something this year. It’s too bad he’ll never get the chance to be a starter.

    Chris Mason is the backup for Nashville. I’m sure not many of you have heard of him, but he played some excellent hockey in the few starts that he saw. And this was after his long rests. It’s a very hard thing to do to come in and play a game after sitting a good 15. I watched a couple of his games and he played incredible, especially for a small guy. He was the reason that Nashville had a chance in one of their games this year versus toronto. Underrated and will probably never see more than backup duty at the NHL level.

  25. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    i’m not going to carry this debate with you guys on all year. here’s the correct answers to your key points:

    a) stats are NOT the defining issue in determining who’s good. i cite gilles meloche who i mentioned as one of the best 70’s goalies. neither of you probably are familiar with his years playing for the seals, but…the seals sucked. HE was fantastic. his stats suck.

    b) re: snow. i love how you guys are obsessed with snows size, and always use it to attack the guy. ken dryden was as big. do you have anything bad to say about him? have either of you ever even seen him play in person. doubt it.

    c) re: forwards knwoing as well as goalies, what makes a good goalie. WRONG. goaltending IS the most speciialized position in sports. that’s why only ex-GOALTENDERS work as goalie coaches. in baseball catchers can work as pitching coaches. please notify me when you can think of the forward working as a goalie coach!

    the biggest mistakes made by head coaches always involve goaltenders. they do not understand them, and make the wrong moves with them. any GOALIE reading this will know that i am correct.

  26. mojo19 says:

    I don’t know very much at all prior to the 90’s so I can only comment on those and your “Now” selections, and I have to say its a pretty weird list. Bill Ranford was not underrated, everyone knows how good he was with Edmonton and he was pretty good with Boston too. Garth Snow was veeeerry average with Philly, which is why he never made it there as a starter, why you put him on the list I have no clue, and Tom Barrasso is probably overrated if anything. Tabbarracci is a pretty good pick though, I liked him and Kidd as the goaltending tandem in Calgary.

  27. nyi37kes says:

    How can you say that Barasso was under appreciated? The guy won the rookie of the year, was named to the 1996 and 2002 olympic teams and won 2 stanley cups. Garth Snow can play in big games, but he cant handle #1 minutes. He gets rattled too easily. I just entered the CHL draft, but I didn’t get drafted. Still hoping to catch on. But Im a defensman and I can see how my goalies work. Martin Prusek spent too much time overseas, now he might lose his job to prospect Ray Emery. Honestly how long can you wait? The most underated goalie EVER is Bill Ranford. He got no credit on the Oilers dynasties because of Fuhr but he played in some of the biggest games that you never hear about

  28. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    your not seeing things as they really are.

    ranford is not highly regarded by all fans, the way for example fuhr is. the rough seasons at the end of his career hurt his rep badly. they shouldn’t have.

    barrasso also doesn’t have the high regard from fans that for example belfour has. he should though. therefore he like ranford is UNDERATED.

    snow is a much better goalie than you, or most people realize.

  29. cgolding says:

    fine… don’t carry on the debate, just know you look like a tool when you have to rely on previous experience to validate your opinion. if you opinion is inciteful and accurate it speaks for itself, a good comment doesn’t require a qualifier.

    a) an absolute truth in ALL of sports. with goalies you can throw away almost every stat except save percentage. you can ignore it if you want, but it’s a stat that allows one to compare a goalie’s ability to stop pucks with the rest of the league, that’s an important stat. GAA, Wins, Losses, etc… those are more team oriented stats. Save Percentage is the goalie alone against the other team at what his job on the ice to do… if you are subpar in that aspect of the game against the rest of the league then that tells you something of the goalie against other goalies in the league… in the only stat that has NOTHING to do with any factors that might surround a goalie, like quality of his team and other such things.

    i cite Roberto Luongo and what his save percentage says about his ability in comparison to his other stats… GAA hurts cuz he faces a bazillion shots, but his save percent is awesome cuz he’s a great goalie.

    b) i’m not attacking the guy on his size, i’m saying he’s a huge goalie that takes up a lot of the net and STILL has never managed to do a quality job of stopping the puck over stretched out period of time. with as many teams as he has been on, if he was actually underrated and deserving of a no. 1 job, someone would have given it to him and been confident in him… instead he’s blown his chances to take a firm grasp of a no. 1 job in this league because of his temper and inconsistent play. i still have nightmares of, according to you his best play, when he was in philly.

    okay. dryden v. snow. do you know how stupid you sound by using him as an example, “ken dryden was as big. do you have anything bad to say about him? have either of you ever even seen him play in person. doubt it.”

    dryden had FIVE vezina trophies as the best goalie in the league… he STOPPED the puck well enough to be voted the best goalie in the league… snow is nowhere near that… i don’t care if you are a friggin 3 foot midget, if you stop the puck you are getting a nod from me… snow doesn’t.

    c) hmm. you don’t seem to grasp the point here. forwards don’t know the technical aspects of goaltending as well as a former goalie, but they DO know what makes a good goalie very well… they are the ones trying score on them after all and, especially at the pro-level worrying about opposing goalies. i doubt Martin Brodeur is worrying over what Esche is doing at the other end that much, probably worrying about his own game.

    that’s sorta like saying a hitter doesn’t know what makes a good curveball good…

    the biggest mistakes made by head coaches always involve goaltenders. they do not understand them, and make the wrong moves with them. any GOALIE reading this will know that i am correct.

    stop the puck and the coach makes the right decision. if you are good you take your chance and force the coach to make the right decision, unless your coach is an ass, they want to win and the better player will play… which is why a guy like Garth Snow has always been a 2nd option… he’s forced the management to view him as such with his play.

    ultimately what it comes down to is i don’t think you necessarily understand what “underrated” means. to the common man it means someone that (consistently)plays above the level that the majority believe them capable of… thus their rating is below their actual level.

    back to the stats arguments, cuz i actually think it is an interesting one, especially in relation to an argument about Brian Boucher… if you want to say the guy is underrated by some in terms of talent, i agree, but talent and a quarter will buy you a 25 cent cup of coffee.

    in his first year in philly boucher posted..

    2038 min, 65 GA, 790 SOG, 725 SV, 1.91 GAA, .918 SVPCT

    which means he played very well statistically…

    since then.

    8671 min, 408 GA, 3976 SOG, 3568 SV, 2.82 GAA, .897 SVPCt

    that’s CRAP and you know it… even if you want to disregard stats, the game is utlimately about winning and losing and those numbers compared to the rest of the league over that span are abysmal, which means the Coyotes would be better off with someone else in the net… i’m sure it is comforting to yote fans that you believe that his performance there is good enough to warrant underrated status… but based on what the common definition of underrated, and what i think we agree his physical talents should produce, he’s underachieving… not being underrated. you are one or the other, not both.

    this is a guy that has played himself OUT of the team usa picture… i hope he gets back, i really like the guy from his days here in philly, but he hasn’t performed and hasn’t mentally dealt with the pressure of being the go to guy in his career… and don’t bring up that playoff run because that was the LEAST pressure any Flyer team has ever been under, no one expected anything from them.

    but i might be relying on stats too much, you’re right. you want him playing like the above on your team? or would you complain that you are losing too much because of him?


  30. cgolding says:

    snow is a much better goalie than you, or most people realize.

    yes that’s why he’s sucked when it counted throughout his career… and every team he’s been on hasn’t wanted to go to him as their clear number one… hexy was dropping WAY off in the end here and snowy still couldn’t take the job completely away from him.

    you are the ONLY person who thinks this guy is more than he is, and that includes former NHL’ers(those goalie coaches you were talking about) who are probably MORE accurate than you based on your arrogant(i’m right because i played juniors) stance, since they played in the NHL. if he was so underrated one of them would have fought for the guy to be given the role of number 1.

    as for barrasso, the guy has a vezina… fans now don’t remember him all that well because he did his damage more than 10 years ago… but clearly people thought he was pretty damn good. arguing that he was underrated, when he gets a vezina, because most fans don’t appreciate him that much is basically saying, “because most fans are hockey historians, most players that AREN’T playing right now are underrated compared to current players.”

    that’s just silly.

  31. berserker17 says:

    Ok…guess you’re right. A non-goalie can’t understand a goalies game as well as a former goalie. WRONG It’s not necessary for me to know of a non-goalie goalie coach. Here’s a scenario for you: Your a skater & about to take the nice, at the other end is a decent goalie, say Kolzig. You get suggestions from 2 players on where to shoot on Kolzig. Your backup goalie Snow says skate in & shoot top shelf. Another teammate, Brett Hull tells you to shoot 5-hole. Who would listen to?

  32. baltic_thunder says:

    I don’t believe that there has been a time in professional hockey when there were so many good young goaltenders with relatively little experience. No one can argue about Prusek and Boucher. Additionally one would have to add Luongo, Ranford, Abishcher and Kiprosoff. Gerber, Fleury and Tellqvist I’m almost certain will be following suit. This takes nothing away from the Brodeurs and Belfours of the league but does put alot more pressure on veteran goaltenders.

  33. Naslundfan says:

    Manny Legace. He could easy be a number one goaly but he has always been stuck behind bigger name guys.(cujo) (hasek)

  34. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    YOU do not know who fought for snow behind the scenes and who did not. i remind you, that when the u.s olympic team sought a goaltender in the years snow was uo for the job, they chose him. i can assure you, that is amongst the hardest jobs in sports to get, when competing with all of the division college goaltenders, one used to have to compete with to get it. i know FIRST hand.

    re: barrasso. it’s about understanding my definition of underated. 10 yrs from now, people will remember and highly regard brodeur, and hasek. they should similarly still remember and highly regard barrasso. by your own admission, they don’t.

  35. BlueOrangeWhite says:


  36. berserker17 says:

    You’re an idiot. I pick the 741 goal scoring Hull over the half-assed goon in goalies gear Snow.

  37. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    having played high level hockey, i can tell you “from the bench”, most PLAYERS would choose Snow. You demonstrate the difference between a fan and a player.

  38. cgolding says:

    this is true.

    but it is also true that brett hull probably isn’t asking anyone for advice on burying the puck.

  39. cgolding says:

    i remind you, that when the u.s olympic team sought a goaltender in the years snow was uo for the job, they chose him.

    you’re a moron.

    he played in the olympics when it remained an amateur tournament. is he a great goalie in the wider world of hockey? is he all that great in the NHL, no.

    he made the olympic team because it was an amateur event at the time and he was the best available goalie who held amateur status because he went to college and the timing was right. hasn’t played at that level since. we won’t even begin to deal with the fact that US goalie talent has been a shallow pool for the most part as well, so it isn’t necessarily the greatest accomplishment in the hockey world to make the US goalie position.

    what’s harder, making the US team, or the Canadian team?

    as Roenick said to Snow, (paraphrase)”don’t be bitter you weren’t good enough to go pro at 18.”

  40. berserker17 says:

    Yes I’m a fan but I also coach youth hockey. I also don’t need to take time to qualify myself. I can tell you “from the bench” that a good shooter can provide advice as good as a mediocre goalie/Snow. I’ll just leave this as you think Snow is a good goalie while the majority of NHL skaters had a field day with his mediocrity.

  41. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    unfortunately, no, YOUR a moron.

    re-read my post.

    i acknowledged in it, that snow made the olympic team when it was a college draft. but do you have ANY clue how hard it is to get that gig? I DO. I was up for it in 1988! Mike Richter got it that year.

    snow IS a good goaltender. PERIOD. that is coming from a goaltender who has played at a high level. ME. you are a guy who sits on a couch and think he knows what it takes to play high level hockey.

    the most valid compliments are ones that come from your peers. I AM a peer of snows. you are a fat guy in a chair. i rest my case.

  42. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    you are a “youth hockey” COACH. not a former Jr. level goaltender. your perspective v.s mine, is ill informed.

  43. cgolding says:

    you’re a 36 year old who is reminiscent of the character in the song Glory Days. you rely on the fact that you played at that level to validate your opinions, when a good opinion validates itself without irrelevant context to the statement.

    not to mention, you are so incompetent at arguing, which is amazing considering you are 36 and not 13 that you have to fall back on something so mundane and ignorant as, “you are a fat guy in a chair. i rest my case. ” that is a humorously idiotic comment.

    i acknowledged in it, that snow made the olympic team when it was a college draft. but do you have ANY clue how hard it is to get that gig? I DO. I was up for it in 1988! Mike Richter got it that year.

    yes, i understand how hard it is to get that gig. and NEVER did i argue that he isn’t a great goalie if you want to compare him to every other human that has played goalie. YOU want to call him an underrated NHL goalie and bring his olympic experience into the debate, which has absolutely ZERO to do with what he has done as an NHL goalie… in terms of relevance to a discussion of an NHL goalie i could say you are an underrated goalie at the NHL level, because you made juniors, which is very hard to make as well.

    Snow was a VERY good goalie, one of the best in the world at his age prior to going pro… THAT IS WHY HE WAS CAPABLE OF GOING PRO. But in discussing an NHL goalie, what the hell does it matter what he did prior to lacing ’em up at the NHL level… that’s right, it doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with it.

    whatever. stroke your ego with, “i used to play juniors,” all you want. just understand that it is an ignorant way to open a comment on anything, regardless of what you are talking about. good comments are good comments, bad comments are bad comments… they have nothing to do with previous experiences.

  44. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    i stand by all that i have said. you SIT by all that you have said.

    i’m out.

  45. Hockey_Fan_99 says:

    Kolzig, Weekes, and thibault

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