We ended last season with one of the worst goalie matchups in recent Stanley Cup finals history. Antti Niemi was one part of a bigger picture about how a team can thrive without a superstar in net, yes, but an elite netminder can still greatly impact a team's fortunes.
Which goalies will be able to carry their teams in 2010-11? According to Puck Prospectus' VUKOTA projection system, here are the top 10 projected goalies for this coming season:
1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres: 63 GP, .916 save percentage, 18.1 GVT
After several years as a solid starting goalie in Buffalo, Miller took the leap to stardom, being voted as the league's top goalie and winning fans all across the U.S. for his exploits at the Vancouver Olympics. It is rare for goalies to have career seasons twice in a row, and Miller is perhaps unlikely to ever again hit the heights of a 35.6 GVT, but he should still be in the running to defend his Vezina Trophy. A 4-9-2 record without Miller in net last season shows the importance of the Sabres' franchise goaltender.