Back when Cage Match was still my weekly column, you had to wait until the summer and winter for tournaments/polls; but the good news is now you’ll get one every month! And what better way for me to kick things off than having a tournament involving goalies, which I never got a chance to cover while doing Cage Match.
The premise of this tournament/poll is deceptively simple – pick the five goalies who’ll get the most wins in the next five seasons, starting next season. But it’s more difficult than it appears, since it has as much, if not more so, to do with a netminder’s age, the team he plays for and his contract/cap situation as it does with his pure skill. Keeping those things in mind, here are the choices (in alphabetical order, along with their current age plus their contract status and cap hit). Vote for the five whom you believe will have the most cumulative wins from the 2019-20 season through the 2024-25 campaign. Although not listed below, the tournament/poll will also include a “none of the above” choice in case you think a goalie who’s not listed here and either currently playing in the NHL or not will be among the five goalies with the most wins during this period. Look for the link at the end of the column to cast your votes; but without further ado, here are the 18 contenders:
Jake Allen (age = 28; signed through 2020-21 at $4.35M per season)
Once thought to be a surefire Tier 1 goalie, Allen has instead struggled with injuries and inconsistency, to the point where for now he’s lost his hold on the starting gig to Jordan Binnington (more on him below). With what they’re paying Allen, he should continue to get chances to recapture #1 netminder status; and who knows, perhaps if he connects the dots – and assuming Binnington doesn’t just steal the starting job away from him for good – Allen could become one of those netminders who finally hits his stride in his late 20s and then excels into his 30s.
Frederick Andersen (age = 29; signed through 2020-21 at $5M per season)
If Andersen was a lock to stay in Toronto, then on paper it would be difficult not to vote for him, what with the Leafs arguably built to be one of the top teams the NHL over these next five years. But with Andersen only signed for two more seasons and the Leafs likely to be feeling a cap crunch in the coming years, it’s not impossible to think he might find himself on a new team for 2021-22; and if that happens, who knows if he’ll excel to the extent he is now.