In the post-lockout NHL, having a solid netminder is a must. However, especially in recent years, backup goaltenders are becoming just as valuable of a commodity. Wins are hard to come by in this league, and if a team’s No. 1 guy in the crease goes down with an injury or just needs a break, it’s important that teams have a dependable backup to fill the void.
Here is a list of five backup goalies who have not only proved their worth thus far, but in some instances, have actually taken over the starting role.
Jacob Markstrom, Florida Panthers
If you saw Jacob Markstrom on the street, you would think that he was a professional basketball player. At 6’6” and 196 pounds, it’s easy to see why. When you put him in pads, he only looks that much bigger. The 21-year-old rookie is the future of the Florida Panthers. While veteran Jose Theodore is still the No. 1 guy, expect Markstrom to see plenty of playing time this season, especially if Theodore struggles.
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks
While many in Vancouver may be clamoring for Cory Schnieder to be the No. 1 guy it net, that title still belongs to Roberto Luongo. But not for long. Luongo is off to a rough start this season (4-4, 3.41 GAA, .884 SV%) and the Canucks are off to a sluggish 6-7-1 start. The 25-year-old Schneider has been a starter everywhere else in his career and his has tremendous skills will only continue to develop with the more playing time he gets. There have been trade rumors linked to his name, but Vancouver would have to get an awful lot in return if they were to trade him.
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues
Prior to the start of the season, the St. Louis Blues needed a backup and Brian Elliott was available. After a rough 2010-11 season split between Ottawa and Colorado, not only has Elliott shined in St. Louis, he has actually taken the No. 1 role from Jaroslav Halak. Elliott has posted a tremendous 5-1 record to go along with a ridiculous 1.72 GAA and .941 SV%.
Johan Hedberg, New Jersey Devils
As long as Marty Brodeur continues to put the pads on, he will be the starter in New Jersey. However, the 38-year-old Johan Hedberg has done a great job filling in for the injured Brodeur thus far this season. Hedberg is a perfect backup who knows his role on a team. He is well liked by his teammates and can play great, even after long stretches between starts.
Mathieu Garon, Tampa Bay Lightning
With the 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson struggling to start the season, Mathieu Garon has been a stud for the Lightning. Tampa Bay hasn’t handed over the rights to the crease to him just yet, but based on Roloson’s rough start (and his age), Garon will see plenty of action between the pipes. He’s great on breakaways and shootouts, plus, he has a great relationship with Roloson, as they made a formidable duo while together in Edmonton.