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Buffalo Sabres May Seek Cup Success Without a Franchise Goaltender

June 25th, 2013 at 11:30 AM
By Mike Matisz

The Chicago Blackhawks became Stanley Cup champions Monday night, completing a run that started with a record-breaking point streak and ended in winning game six in Boston.

With that victory, a trend continues amongst goaltenders who have won the Stanley Cup. In each of the last ten seasons, the NHL has seen ten different goalies hoist the Cup. In that list of goalies, there may only be two Hall of Fame caliber players. 

The list below shows the winners of the last ten Stanley Cups and their starting goalie through the playoffs. 

2002-03 New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur
2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning: Nikolai Khabibulin
*2004-05 Season Cancelled
2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes: Cam Ward
2006-07 Anaheim Ducks: Jean-Sebastien Giguere
2007-08 Detroit Red Wings: Chris Osgood
2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury
2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks: Antti Niemi
2010-11 Boston Bruins: Tim Thomas
2011-12 Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick
2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford

On this list, only two goalies won the Vezina Trophy the year that they won the Cup (Brodeur 2002-03, Thomas 2010-11) and three of them won the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP (Ward 2005-06, Thomas 2010-11, Quick 2011-12).

Given the trend that great goaltending doesn't necessarily come from a premier goaltender, the Sabres may be looking in a new direction this summer as the team rebuilds around a new core. 

Starting goalie Ryan Miller has been considered one of the best in the world. His contract ends at the end of next season and unless the Sabres can show they are a playoff team, Miller wants out. 

All of the teams who won in the last 10 years have two things in common. They have shutdown defenses and at least one star scorer on the roster. That being said, the Sabres may look to mimic these winners and build a similar core. 

Since owner Terry Pegula has taken over, he has considered taking the path that his former colleagues in Pittsburgh have and starting over to build a strong, successful team. While Pittsburgh has only won once with this format, Chicago has done it twice and the Hurricanes did it once as well. 

The NHL Draft is Sunday from the Prudential Center. The Sabres have been rumored to be moving some picks and/or players during the opening round and fans could see a new roster forming right before their eyes. 

With the current trends in the NHL, the Sabres could say goodbye to Miller in an effort to rebuild. Backup Jhonas Enroth just signed a two-year extension and was just named goaltender of the tournament at the world championships. 

Whether Enroth or Miller start the season with the Sabres, Buffalo is sure to have strong goaltending if nothing else. 

Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL

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