There have been only 28 seasons in NHL history in which a goaltender over the age of 35 has posted a goals-against average (GAA) better than 2.50 and a save percentage better than .915, while playing in at least 30 games. A full 18 of those seasons came from just seven goaltenders: Johnny Bower, Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, Ed Belfour, Glenn Hall and Patrick Roy.
In fact, if you lump in Hall of Famers Jacques Plante and Gump Worsley with the above group, you are left with only eight such seasons in NHL history which did not come from current residents of Toronto's Temple de la Renommée or from surefire, future first-ballot choices such as Luongo.
The remaining eight seasons consist of a pair from Tim Thomas, and one each from Jose Theodore, Mike Vernon, Craig Anderson, Nikolai Khabibulin, Miikka Kiprusoff -- plus Pekka Rinne. In fact, Rinne is on pace for his second such season this year, having already eclipsed 30 starts while holding down a .915 save percentage and a 2.43 GAA.
My point is that goaltenders who end up remaining successful after their 35th birthday are few and far between. So, as we dive into the latest update of our fantasy hockey dynasty rankings, it's clear that we are on the verge of a major "changing of the guard" at goaltender.
Within the five-year future-facing timeframe that these dynasty rankings attempt to cover, the following goaltenders will have (if they haven't already done so) eclipsed the age of 35: Rinne, Luongo, Anderson, Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick, Marc-Andre Fleury, Devan Dubnyk, Henrik Lundqvist, Jaroslav Halak, Carter Hutton, Thomas Greiss, Jimmy Howard, Brian Elliott, Mike Smith, Cory Schneider, Corey Crawford and Cam Ward -- with Carey Price and Tuukka Rask playing as 35-year-olds in the 2022-23 season. The list is basically a "who's who" of the past decade of fantasy goaltending and they are all on the verge of aging out of the league all within a few years of each other.
That means we will have a wave of new goaltenders coming onto the scene between now and 2022-23. Since this is such a shift in the talent pool, I thought I'd highlight some of the goaltenders who look like they might be part of that next wave of between-the-pipes talent. Just to clarify, the dynasty rankings are calculated as an unweighted average of each player's relative ranking based upon the rest-of-season projections, and those for each of the four seasons that follow.
Note: We have expanded the dynasty rankings to the top 300, compared to our last dynasty rankings, which were calculated in August, that stopped at No. 250.
Carter Hart, G, Philadelphia Flyers (up 68 spots to No. 65): Getting an early start often has a big influence on these rankings. Back in August, it looked more like Hart wouldn't be a factor until maybe partway through next season. But he's up now, has a fantastic pedigree, and has been performing better than any of the other six goaltenders who have tried their hand at the Flyers' crease this season. It will be interesting to watch the dynamic once Elliott returns to health this season, especially if he looks like his old self. But for next year, and maybe the next 10 years after that, Hart is locked in as a workhorse for the Flyers.
Ilya Samsonov, G, Washington Capitals (up 36 spots to No. 135): A rookie in the AHL this season, Samsonov was the Capitals' first-round pick back in 2015. He was dominant for three seasons in the KHL and shined on the international stage, but his North American debut hasn't exactly been roses. He sports a 3.40 GAA in the AHL this season -- although interestingly enough, he is currently riding a two-game shutout streak. The path isn't clear for Samsonov, as Braden Holtby stands between him and regular starts, but Holtby isn't without his blemishes. Winning the Stanley Cup went a long way towards making us all forget that Holtby forgot how to be a goaltender in the second half of last season.
Thatcher Demko, G, Vancouver Canucks (down 41 spots to No. 136): I'm not nearly as excited by Demko's fantasy potential over the next five years because of the goaltenders who are bookending him on the depth chart. On one side, Jacob Markstrom is playing much better for the Canucks right now and, as such, has already delayed Demko's ascension. On the other side, Michael DiPietro is charging hard in the OHL and could be pushing for time before the next five years are up. I still love Demko from a talent perspective and think he's going to have some phenomenal seasons in the middle of these rankings, I just think his window to have a fantasy impact is a little smaller.
Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Carolina Hurricanes (up 27 spots to No. 138): Carrying the load for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL, Nedeljkovic's ranking is mostly helped by the fact that no goaltender has really staked a claim for the Hurricanes' starting job. Nedeljkovic's ratios are fine, and he leads the AHL in wins by a healthy margin. Mostly, though, it's the clear path to starts that moves him up the rankings. He should start the year in net for the Hurricanes next season, if we don't see him sooner.
Igor Shesterkin, G, New York Rangers (up 13 spots to No. 149): Putting up crazy-good ratios in the KHL since he was a teenager, Shesterkin (sometimes referred to as Igor Shestyorkin, due to variance in Russian translation) has a three-season streak going with a GAA under 2.00. His save percentage in 22 games this season for SKA St. Petersburg is .947. Forget about the variance in translating stats from the KHL to NHL -- any goaltender, at any level, stopping 95 percent of pucks thrown his way? It's crazy. Shesterkin's contract in the KHL is up this season, so the timing is perfect for the Rangers to to coax him over as the heir to King Henrik's throne.
Ilya Sorokin, G, New York Islanders (enters ranks at No. 210): Speaking of "video game numbers" by an Ilya in the KHL who is a prospect of a New York NHL franchise, Sorokin has been equally as impressive for his club, CKSA Moscow. He's rocking a .942 save percentage this season and has posted a mark of .929 or better in the three previous seasons. Unfortunately for the Islanders, Sorokin is committed to the KHL for at least one more season after this one, so the earliest we could see him is in 2020-21.
Players on the move
Thomas Chabot, D, Ottawa Senators (up 72 spots to No. 40): The current all-time list of points-per-game leaders as a 21-year-old NHL defenseman begins with Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque -- and Chabot. He is three spots ahead of the man he replaced, Erik Karlsson. This has been an epic season for Chabot, who has cemented himself as one of the game's next great offensive talents. Just imagine if the supporting cast improves in the coming years.
Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres (up one spot to No. 43): Speaking of all-time great seasons relative to a player's age, the leaders in points-per-game for an 18-year-old defenseman are Phil Housley, Bobby Orr and Dahlin. The young Sabre has the added advantage of actually being coached by Housley and he's actually in spitting distance of overtaking Orr to finish No. 2 on this list if he can slightly pick up his pace.
Clayton Keller, C, Arizona Coyotes (down 31 spots to No. 48): Honestly, I think the Coyotes gave up on Dylan Strome too soon and I think it will impact the overall strength of this club's offense for seasons to come. I know that may seem like a reach in logic, given that Strome is hardly setting the world on fire with the Chicago Blackhawks, but he has shown enough since the trade that I think his future remains very bright. I guess I was just a lot higher on Keller when I thought the team had two future superstars on offense who could collaborate, as opposed to just one superstar surrounded by a very good supporting cast. The fact that Keller is experiencing a sophomore slump doesn't help, either. He's on pace for fewer goals, assists and points than in his rookie campaign.
Antti Raanta, G, Arizona Coyotes (down 61 spots to No. 160): When 20 percent of what is being ranked here is erased completely, it has a big impact. Raanta is done for the current campaign, but he shouldn't be ignored for the future. He is still only 29 years old, so there's time for him to retake the reins of this improving Arizona team. As I mentioned while discussing Keller above, I still think the Coyotes have a rich enough pool of talent to rise in the standings in future seasons and Raanta's knack for having an elite save percentage should make for a good overall combination once he returns.
The Tkachuk brothers: Brady Tkachuk's strong debut with the Senators vaults him up to No. 70 in the rankings, while Matthew Tkachuk's huge step forward on the power play this season has him all the way up to No. 32. Both brothers were already ranked among the NHL's elite here for the 2020-21 season and beyond, but their play this season has pushed up their rankings in the here and now. Matthew is rocking a 94-point pace in his third NHL season and has already blown past his previous career highs, while Brady is on pace to match Matthew's strong rookie debut.
Futures quick hits
Jack Hughes and Alexis Lafreniere, the early favorites to be the next two No. 1-overall picks at the draft weren't pushed down the rankings, they were just passed by other players who are currently exceeding expectations in the NHL. Hughes is still showing off his all-world skill, currently sitting with the record for all-time points-per-game with the USA Hockey National Development Team Program, eclipsing the record held by Patrick Kane which was almost broken by Auston Matthews. Lafreniere, meanwhile, is on a goals-per-game pace in the QMJHL that ranks just a fraction behind Nathan MacKinnon's pace as a 17-year-old.
Arthur Kaliyev forces his way into the mix thanks to a fantastic followup to his OHL rookie campaign. He already has 30 goals in his sophomore season with the Hamilton Bulldogs and is on a goals-per-game pace that is in the all-time OHL top 20.
Playing in the Finnish elite league as a 17-year-old, Kaapo Kakko isn't on pace to catch the monstrous statistical seasons that Mikael Granlund and Aleksander Barkov delivered at the same age, but he's outpacing what Patrik Laine did a couple seasons ago.
New to rankings
Note: Since the rankings have been expanded to 300, this list will be quite long, so I'm limiting it to players new to the rankings at No. 250 or above.
Morgan Rielly, Aleksi Heponiemi, Andreas Johnsson, Max Comtois, Tomas Hertl, Jack Campbell, Ty Smith, Jordan Greenway, Cam Atkinson, Michael Rasmussen, Tom Wilson, Mattias Ekholm, Kristian Vesalainen, Denis Gurianov, Ryan Donato, Ville Husso, Owen Tippett, Tyson Barrie, Erik Brannstrom, Evgenii Daodonov, Joel Eriksson Ek, Laurent Brossoit, Ilya Sorokin, Mikhail Grigorenko, Tyler Johnson, Arthur Kaliyev, Mark Giordano, Grigori Denisenko, Micheal Ferland, Keith Yandle, Brandon Pirri, Mikko Koskinen, Anthony Duclair, Nick Suzuki, Josh Ho-Sang and Tomas Tatar.
Jacob Markstrom, Tony DeAngelo, Nolan Foote, Anders Nilsson, Mikael Backlund, Morgan Frost, Joseph Veleno, Oscar Klefbom, Derek Stepan, Haydn Fleury, Phillip Danault, Jared Spurgeon, Justin Schultz, Saku Maenalanen, Jakob Silfverberg and Vince Dunn.
Tyler Toffoli, Nino Niederreiter, Artturi Lehkonen, Jordan Eberle, Danton Heinen, Nikita Zadorov, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Talbot, J.T. Miller, Ryan Strome, Jonathan Bernier, Cory Schneider, Tobias Rieder, James Neal, Valeri Nichushkin and Jakub Jerabek