One of the interesting things when it comes to hockey players salaries is how little top goalies make relative to top defenseme or forwards. I don’t think many people will argue with me when I say that goaltending is the most important position in hockey. Few teams with questionable goaltending make the playoffs. Of the top 16 teams in save %, 15 of them made the playoffs. The only team to make the playoffs and not to be 16 teams is Tampa (which interestingly had the worst save % in the NHL) and the only team in the top 16 to miss the playoffs is the Montreal Canadiens.
But, when it comes to salaries it seems goalies don’t get the credit they deserve. The Flyers paid $6.3 million for 6 years for an offensive oriented 32 year old defenseman whose small size makes him somewhat vulnerable defensively and yet a top 30 year old goalie who just won a Stanley Cup only gets $6 million a season for four years. Maybe the best goalie in NHL history and recent Vezina trophy winner Martin Brodeur is playing for $5.2 million. The top paid goalie, who is also probably the best goalie in the NHL today, Roberto Luongo makes $6.75 million a season. Is Luongo only marginally more valuable than Timonen or about the same value as Pavel Datsyuk ($6.7 million/season) or significantly less valuable than Brad Richards ($7.8 million/season)? No, of course not. Luongo is immensely more valuable than any of those guys, as is any of the elite goalies and yet teams seem to consistantly value them below what top defensemen or forwards make. It makes no sense to me because if I were a GM I would do whatever I can to get and keep a top goalie pretty much regardless of cost. In my opinion, the Islanders got it right.