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State of the Division: Breaking Down the Metro’s Goalies

The Canes may have ridded themselves of Andrei Vasilevksiy, but they’ll still face plenty of talented netminders in the Metro.

New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Five Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Canes are back in the Metro Division, gone from the goaltending powers of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Juuse Saros.

Still, there’s a lot of talented netminders in the Metro, with dynamic tandems in Columbus and on Long Island leading the charge.

We took a look at the state of the Hurricanes’ goaltending last week, and now here’s a look at how the goalie spot is set up for the other seven teams in the Metro:

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets

Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo

2021 Stats

Merzlikins: 28 GP, 8-12-5, 2.77 GAA, .916 SV%, 7.0 Goals Saved Above Average

Korpisalo: 33 GP, 9-13-7, 3.30 GAA, .894 SV%, -12.7 GSAA

A very strong tandem to start things off, the Blue Jackets have two very capable goalies in Merzlikins and Korpisalo.

Merzlikins, the 27-year old, was fantastic as a rookie in 2019-20 and was good once again in 2021. He was a top-five finisher for both the Calder and the Vezina in that rookie year with a 2.35 GAA and .923 SV%. Both numbers were a little down in 2021 but still very good, and Merzlikins is one of the best goalie talents in the entire NHL.

Korpisalo, also still only 27, had the worst year of his career by far in 2021, posting a GAA above 3.00 and a SV% below .900 for just the second time. Still, Korpisalo is a talented goalie, especially if he’s playing as a 1B in the Blue Jackets’ tandem.

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New Jersey Devils

Mackenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier

2021 Stats

Blackwood: 35 GP, 14-17-4, 3.04 GAA, .902 SV%, -6.4 GSAA

Bernier: 24 GP, 9-11-1, 2.99 GAA, .914 SV%, 4.7 GSAA

The Devils have a strong mix of youth and veteran experience, with the 24-year-old Blackwood partnering with the 33-year-old Bernier.

Blackwood, despite the team in front of him, has been solid since joining the NHL in 2018-19, with a 2.83 GAA and .911 SV% so far over his three-year career. From a numbers standpoint his 2021 season was his worst, but he could be improved in 2021-22 with a Dougie Hamilton-bolstered defense in front of him.

Bernier spent a few minutes on the Hurricanes’ radar this offseason following the Alex Nedeljkovic trade, but eventually made his way to New Jersey. He’s nothing spectacular, but he’s very solid. Playing as a clear-cut 1B behind Blackwood, Bernier should be just fine in 2021-22.

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

New York Islanders

Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin

2021 Stats

Varlamov: 36 GP, 19-11-4, 2.04 GAA, .929 SV%, 22.0 GSAA

Sorokin: 22 GP, 13-6-3, 2.17 GAA, .918 SV%, 5.9 GSAA

Another team with a good mix of young and old, the Islanders have a very stellar goaltending tandem with the 13-year NHL vet in Varlamov and the 2020-21 rookie Sorokin.

Varlamov was absolutely fantastic last season for the Islanders, posting career-best numbers in GAA and SV% while leading the NHL in goals saved above average. He finished fifth in Vezina voting.

On the other side is Sorokin, who posted really strong numbers in his first taste of NHL hockey. He finished 15th in Calder voting, and he should get even better as he has the opportunity to develop behind Varlamov.

This is a really strong goaltending duo, one that is going to keep the Islanders very competitive.

New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Rangers

Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev

2021 Stats

Shesterkin: 35 GP, 16-14-3, 2.62 GAA, .916 SV%, 7.9 GSAA

Georgiev: 19 GP, 8-7-2, 2.71 GAA, .905 SV%, -1.2 GSAA

The Rangers bring a pair of 25-year-old goalies into the 2021-22 season, with Shesterkin leading the way after a great rookie season this past year.

Shesterkin finished fifth in Calder voting thanks to a 2.62 GAA and .916 SV%, and he’s finished with more than seven goals saved above average in each of his two seasons in the NHL.

With him is Georgiev, who has a bit more NHL experience than Shesterkin but is a little behind in the talent department.

There’s a lot of room for growth and development with these two, and the ceiling is quite high on the tandem. The question is how high can the ceiling be in 2021-22?

Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Philadelphia Flyers

Carter Hart and Martin Jones

2021 Stats

Hart: 27 GP, 9-11-5, 3.67 GAA, .877 SV%, -22.6 GSAA

Jones: 34 GP, 15-13-4, 3.28 GAA, .896 SV%, -11.7 GSAA

The Flyers bring back 23-year-old Carter Hart and bring in veteran Martin Jones, looking to have better goaltending than they did in 2020-21.

Behind a very low-performing defense, Hart had an abysmal 2020-21 season with a -22.6 GSAA and GAA at 3.67. He was very good his first two years in the league, and Philadelphia will certainly hope he can return to that form.

Behind Hart is Jones, who also didn’t have a great season with the San Jose Sharks, again behind a defense that wasn’t exactly stellar.

Hart is a great young talent, but neither of Philadelphia’s goalies are coming off years worth remembering.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres

Pittsburgh Penguins

Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith

2021 Stats

Jarry: 39 GP, 25-9-3, 2.75 GAA, .909 SV%, 1.3 GSAA

DeSmith: 20 GP, 11-7-0, 2.54 GAA, .912 SV%, 2.0 GSAA

Jarry and DeSmith were decent together for Pittsburgh a season ago, each posting positive GSAAs, save percentages over .900 and GAA’s below 3.00.

Jarry is the starter, and his 2020-21 season produced 25 wins, a 2.75 GAA and .909 SV%. While those numbers were a bit down from 2019-20, they were still stellar and he’ll once again be a solid piece between the pipes. He isn’t a showstopper but he isn’t bad, something the Penguins will take.

DeSmith is entering his fourth season with the Penguins, coming off another strong year that saw his stats right where they want them. He gives more quality starts than not and keeps the Penguins in games.

This duo, while maybe not as high profile as others, has been solid for a few years.

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders Photo by Steven Ryan/NHLI via Getty Images

Washington Capitals

Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek

2021 Stats

Samsonov: 19 GP, 13-4-1, 2.69 GAA, .902 SV%, -3.0 GSAA

Vanecek: 37 GP, 21-10-4, 2.69 GAA, .908 SV%, 0.0 GSAA

One of the youngest goalie tandems in the league, Samsonov and Vanecek have combined to play just 82 games over their NHL careers.

Samsonov is entering his third season, coming into the year with a career GAA of 2.61 and SV% of .908. With him is Vanecek, who the Capitals lost to and then required this offseason from the Seattle Kraken, who started 36 games in the first season of his NHL career last year.

Vanecek’s 2.69 GAA matched Samsonov’s, but he posted better stats across the board than the other Washington netminder.

Like the duo with the Rangers, this tandem has a lot of room to develop and very high ceiling, a ceiling the Capitals will hope the pair nears in the year ahead.