Posted: Thursday April 6, 2006 12:37PM; Updated: Thursday April 6, 2006 7:05PM
Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour began his NHL career as a Blackhawk, bagging the Calder Trophy as top rookie.
Glenn Cratty/Getty Images
With all the hype surrounding Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin this season, there was little room for other rookies to garner headlines. While that pair certainly has not disappointed, other rookies, led by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, have made names for themselves.
The Swedish netminder's debut campaign in the NHL has been such that he is rightfully being considered for the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie. Since Tony Esposito netted the award in 1969-70, only three rookie goalies have done likewise. Regardless if he takes home any postseason hardware, Lundqvist has certainly authored one of the top freshman seasons for a goaltender. It should also be noted that Ottawa rookie Ray Emery has had quite a post-Olympic-break run filling in for the injured Dominik Hasek.
Below is a list of the top rookie goalies in the modern era, with a notation on how they did in the playoffs that season.
1. Tony Esposito, 1969-70 Blackhawks
"Tony O" led the league with a career-high 38 wins while posting a 2.17 GAA for the Eastern Division champs. In addition to the Vezina, Esposito won the Calder Trophy as best rookie. Most impressive were his 15 shutouts, which stands as the modern NHL mark for freshmen.
Playoffs: 4-4, 3.38
2. Terry Sawchuk, 1950-51 Red Wings
Playing all 70 games and 4,200 minutes, Sawchuk led the league with 44 wins and 11 shutouts. He compiled a 1.99 GAA, and his 13 losses were the fewest of his career for seasons in which he played at least 40 games. Sawchuk won the Calder and was the runner-up for the Vezina.
Playoffs: 2-4, 1.68, 1 SHO
3. Ken Dryden, 1971-72 Canadiens
Dryden, who had debuted late in the previous season, was already sporting a Stanley Cup ring by the start of his rookie year. He followed up his 1971 playoff effort by leading the league in wins with a startling record of 39-8-15. He posted a 2.24 goals-against with eight shutouts. But his second trip to the postseason was not as fruitful.
Playoffs: 2-4, 2.83
4. Glenn Hall, 1955-56 Red Wings
Taking over for the traded Sawchuk, Hall laid the foundation of his remarkable string of 502 consecutive games. "Mr. Goalie" went 30-24-16 with a league-best and career-high 12 shutouts while compiling a 2.10 GAA, which would also be the finest mark of his career.
Playoffs: 5-5, 2.78
5. Roger Crozier, 1964-65 Red Wings
After debuting in 1963-64, Crozier's rookie season would prove to be a career year. He played all 70 games, winning a league-high 40 and topping the NHL with six shutouts. He had a 2.42 GAA and won the Calder while being named First-Team All-Star.
Playoffs: 3-4, 3.29
6. Ed Belfour, 1990-91 Blackhawks
The Eagle had already appeared in 32 regular-season and playoff matches spread over two years, but he maintained his rookie eligibility en route to winning the Calder. He led all goalies with 74 appearances while winning a career-high and league-leading 43 games. Belfour also led the NHL with a 2.47 GAA while sporting a .910 save percentage.