Five NHL goalies who will be better in 2022–23

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The goalie carousel has been spinning this offseason, but it looks like the ride is about to finally end. Most NHL teams have their tandems set for the 2022–23 season, and I think several goaltenders who struggled last year are in a position to bounce back.

Philipp Grubauer

Not much went right for the Seattle Kraken in the team’s first year of existence, goaltending included. What was expected to be a position of strength for the expansion franchise quickly turned into a nightmare between the pipes when Grubauer couldn’t find his game.

Grubauer has five years remaining on his contract at $5.9 million a year, which doesn’t equate to the .889 save percentage he posted in 55 games last season. Historically, Grubauer has been a .915-.920 save percentage goaltender in the NHL, and I think he can bounce back

It’s twofold. First, the Kraken will be better next season, or at least they should be. That should provide a slightly easier work environment for Grubauer.

I also think the hiring of Steve Briere as the team’s new goaltending coach is likely to make the biggest difference. After a season to forget, sometimes a goalie just needs a new set of eyes and perspective. The flaws in Grubauer’s game – excessive depth and flow – are fixable.

I don’t expect Grubauer to be at the top of the goaltending statistics leaderboard next season. Seattle won’t be good enough as a team to support that kind of performance, but I expect him to be much improved.

MacKenzie Blackwood

When the 2021-22 NHL season began, there was talk of Blackwood being in the mix for the Canadian Olympic team. Then a litany of injuries, along with a prolonged decision to vaccinate against COVID-19, culminated in a season that could best be described as disappointing for the 25-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Blackwood was only able to play in 25 games last year, and his performance wasn’t anywhere near the level expected from the Devils’ second-round draft pick in 2015. Blackwood posted an .892 save percentage and missed a significant portion of the season with a nagging heel injury.

As a team, New Jersey wasn’t very good, and it wasn’t just Blackwood who had a difficult time keeping the puck out of the Devils’ net. There wasn’t a lot of confidence in the New Jersey crease last season, no matter who had the pads on.

Despite his name being floated in trade talks, Blackwood is back for another season in New Jersey and hopefully a clean bill of health. It was obvious watching Blackwood last season that he wasn’t comfortable. It’s tough to perform when your body is fighting back.

New Jersey picked up several key pieces this offseason. The team should be better, and Blackwood is in a contract year. He should have plenty of motivation to become a true No. 1 goaltender. Blackwood just needs to stay healthy and focused.

Alexandar Georgiev

For Georgiev, there is no choice. He has to be better as a member of the Colorado Avalanche than he was for the New York Rangers, and that’s exactly the gamble Colorado took when it signed the 26-year-old from Bulgaria to a three-year contract worth $3.4 million annually.

It was 2019 when the NHL last saw the best version of Georgiev. His save percentage has dropped every year since his rookie campaign in 2017-18, hitting a career-low of .898 last season.

The belief has always been that increased playing time would benefit Georgiev. Yet he was unable to claim the Rangers’ crease over the last five seasons.

There are elements of Georgiev’s game that make him intriguing. He’s explosive and dynamic, but too often he lacks precision in his movements. Georgiev struggled noticeably with traffic last season: He’d end up deep in his crease, a tell-tale sign of a goaltender who lacks confidence.

Colorado is probably the best place Georgiev could have landed. The team is fresh off a Stanley Cup championship where goaltending wasn’t at the forefront. There isn’t much pressure on Georgiev considering the Avalanche can win just about any way.

His career needs a reboot, and I think it will be really good for Georgiev to work with Colorado goalie coach Jussi Parkkila, who’s done a fantastic job since joining the Avalanche in 2017. With a few tweaks to Georgiev’s game and a new mindset, he has the talent to turn it around.

Alex Nedeljkovic

It was a tale of two seasons for Nedeljkovic and the Red Wings last year. The first half was fantastic. The second half was miserable, and life as a goaltender reflects that.

Sure, there were a few blowup games where Nedeljkovic allowed a pile of goals, but Detroit’s defense last season — especially in the second half — was an absolute travesty. The fact that Nedeljkovic was able to post a .901 save percentage in 59 games is something of a minor miracle.

The Red Wings added considerable talent throughout their lineup and brought in Derek Lalonde as head coach. There is every reason to believe that Detroit will not only be improved next season, but the Red Wings could also make a run at the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs.

There will be competition in the crease with incoming goaltending partner Ville Husso, but never count out someone in a contract year. Nedeljkovic’s deal is up at the end of the 2022–23 season. Behind a restocked and rejuvenated team in Detroit, I fully expect his numbers to improve.

Thomas Greiss

Much like Nedeljkovic, Greiss suffered in Detroit last season. His 3.66 goals against average was the fifth-worst in the NHL among goalies who played at least 15 games. Greiss won just 10 times in 31 appearances and battled several injuries.

But if you look at his career, the 2021–22 season was an outlier. In 11 full-time NHL seasons, Greiss has had a save percentage below .900 only twice.

The days of Greiss contending for No. 1 minutes are gone, but he’s shown in the past that he can carry the mail over short stretches. Greiss has been the definition of a “1B” for the better part of seven seasons, something that is reflected in his respectable .912 career save percentage.

Greiss is joining a solid team in St. Louis with one of the NHL’s best goaltending coaches in David Alexander. He has been instrumental in developing winning goaltenders for the Blues, and his nuanced approach to the position should be a perfect fit with a veteran like Greiss.



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