Russian Goalies Highlight Lightning-Islanders Series

Ranking the NHL’s Top Russian Goalies Today: Russia has produced a number of outstanding NHL defensemen and forwards. The only notable goalies from that nation to make it to the league prior to 2010 were Nikolai Khabibulin, Evgeni Nabokov, and Ilya Bryzgalov.

But over the past ten years, a number of notable Russian goalies have established NHL careers. As the league’s top goaltender, some, including Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky, have won the Vezina Trophy.

Russian Goalies Highlight Lightning-Islanders Series

8. New York Rangers Alexandar Georgiev

Alexandar Georgiev was born in Bulgaria, but his family soon relocated to Russia. He joined the New York Rangers’ development camp after going undrafted in 2017 and was given a spot with Hartford, one of their American Hockey League affiliates.

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Georgiev finished the 2017–18 campaign with the Rangers 4–4–1, a 3.15 GAA, and a.918 save percentage after being promoted midway through the year. He performed well enough for the Blueshirts to give him a backup position as they rebuilt.

The 6’1″, 178-pounder has been largely relegated to this position, first serving as Henrik Lundqvist’s understudy and most recently, Igor Shesterkin’s. Georgiev, 25, has struggled this season.

He has a 2-1-1 record, a massive 4.08 GAA, and a.858 save percentage. Georgiev is dissatisfied with his backup position and wants out of New York, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post on November 22. However, he hasn’t yet asked for a trade.

7. Ilya Samsonov of the Washington Capitals

Ilya Samsonov, a native of Magnitogorsk, Russia, was selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round of 2015. He played for his KHL hometown team for the following three years, taking home the Gagarin Cup in 2016.

The Russian goalkeeper, who stands 6’3″ and weighs 200 pounds, spent one season with the Capitals’ AHL affiliate in Hershey becoming accustomed to the North American game before joining the big club in 2019–20.

Samsonov started out as Braden Holtby’s backup but soon began to outperform the veteran Capitals starter. In 26 games, he had a 16-6-2 record, a 2.55 GAA, a.913 save percentage, and one shutout to cap off that season.

Following Holtby’s departure via free agency in 2020, the Capitals chose Samsonov as their new starter thanks to that performance. However, two encounters with COVID-19 restricted his sophomore season, which ended with 19 games, a 13-4-1 record, a 2.69 GAA, and a.902 save percentage.

6. New York Islanders Ilya Sorokin

Ilya Sorokin, who was selected by the New York Islanders in the third round (78th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft, spent the following several seasons honing his skills in the KHL, primarily with CSKA Moscow.

The Russian native, who hails from Mezhdurechensk, supported that team to the Gagarin Cup in that year.

Sorokin has adequate size and athleticism for an NHL goaltender at 6’3″ and 190 lbs. He played in 22 games as the veteran starter Semyon Varlamov’s backup last year, compiling a 13-6-3 record with a 2.17 GAA, a.918 save percentage, and three shutouts.

5.  Dallas Stars Anton Khudobin

Anton Khudobin, who was born in Kazakhstan on May 7, 1986, when that nation was still a part of the Soviet Union, relocated to Russia to further his playing career. He has represented Russia in a number of international competitions.

Khudobin, the smallest goalkeeper on this list, made his debut with the Minnesota Wild in 2009–10 at 5’11” and 195 lbs. Before joining the Dallas Stars in 2018–19, he built a reputation as a journeyman backup with the Wild, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, and Anaheim Ducks over the course of the previous 13 years.

4. New York Rangers Igor Shesterkin

Igor Shesterkin, a Moscow native, was chosen by the New York Rangers in the fourth round (118th overall) of the 2014 draught. In 2019–20, he made his NHL debut, quickly replacing Henrik Lundqvist as the Rangers’ starting goaltender.

Shesterkin, who was promoted by the Rangers on January 6, 2020, made an immediate impression by winning 10 of his 12 starts while recording a 2.52 GAA and.932 save percentage.

His regular season was ended early due to a fractured rib sustained in a car accident on February 23 and the schedule’s early conclusion as a result of the injury.

3. New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov made his NHL debut in 2008-09 with the Washington Capitals, and over the course of eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, he advanced to the position of starting goaltender. He is currently playing for the New York Islanders in his third season.

The 33-year-old Varlamov, a native of Samara, is fourth among Russian NHL goalies with 532 games played and 251 career victories. In terms of shutouts in a career, he is tied for third with Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers (34).

The 6’2″, 210-pound Varlamov is a big-bodied goaltender who covers a lot of the net, like most of his contemporaries on this list. He also has a poised demeanour and quick reflexes. He has sustained numerous injuries, though, over the course of his career.

2. Panthers Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky

With 549 games played and 305 career victories, Sergei Bobrovsky, who is currently in his 12th season, is currently ranked third among all Russian NHL goalies. Along with Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Bryzgalov, the 33-year-old Florida Panthers starter is tied for third place in shutouts (34) with a total of 34.

He has 34 shutouts to his credit and is third among all goalies in career wins since making his NHL debut in 2010–11. Bobrovsky, who was born in Novokuznetsk, Russia, is notable for being the first Russian to receive the Vezina Trophy (2012-13).

The second time he received the honour was in 2016–17, making him the only NHL goalie in active play to do so. At his best, the 6’2″, 182-pound Bobrovsky is tough to beat because of his size, quickness, and experience.

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1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning of Tampa

Not only is Andrei Vasilevskiy the best goaltender from Russia in the NHL. The 27-year-old has made a name for himself as the top goaltender in the league over the last four seasons.

Vasilevskiy joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014–15 as a backup, and two seasons later took over as the starter. The Russian native quickly advanced to the top goalies in the league. His 225-pound, 6’3″ body fills most of the net.

Additionally, he is quite agile and skilled at stealing the bottom half of the net from rival goal scorers.