Justin Cuthbert pinpoints one commonality among Stanley Cup winning teams, which is the presence and importance of homegrown netminders.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: The Rangers, though, they do have one thing for sure, which is the presence of a dominant netminder. The match-up versus Vasilevskiy and Shesterkin is the best the NHL could possibly produce in this very moment in time. They are probably the number one and number two netminders in the league, in that order, with Vasilevskiy probably still having the edge, which means, though, whoever goes through, will have the advantage in the Stanley Cup Final.
And when I was thinking about that and what that could mean against Colorado, who's been the best team in the regular season-- or in the playoffs so far with just two losses, it got me thinking about past Stanley Cup winners and what the formulas for those teams were. And one commonality I found is that starting netminders for teams that win the Stanley Cup are almost exclusively homegrown. Jean-Sébastien Giguere with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006 is really the only goaltender in the salary cap era that wasn't fully groomed by the same team in which they won the Stanley Cup with.
There were ones not drafted by the team. Tuukka Rask, of course, went from the Maple Leafs to the Boston Bruins before he could start on his developmental path. But in all cases, except for Giguere, the key developmental years were spent within that one organization. Vasilevskiy, Binnington, Holtby, Murray, Fleury, Crawford, Quick, all the way down the list to Cam Ward in 2006, they're almost exclusively homegrown. I think there's got to be something to this.
It's not that you can't win with a netminder acquired through trade or free agency. Colorado could prove to do that with Darcy Kuemper this year, or he may fail. He might come up short in a match-up versus a superior goaltender, which would support the claim that you're far more likely to win having developed your own goaltender.
I do think there are coincidental elements to this, but I do think it's kind of simple, too. You avoid overpaying, miscasting, buying up non-prime seasons when you bring up a netminder by yourself at an appropriate pace. If you find a netminder via other means, that means one team has already done the work and, more importantly, is willing to give up on that goaltender. Maybe the development has stalled.
Now there are examples of that being not so jarring. Jacob Markstrom had to go because Thatcher Demko was being developed and was ready. But for every Markstrom, who, of course, hasn't won and did come up short in these playoffs, there's a Grubauer and a Mrazek and a Nedeljkovic. There are more examples of goaltenders exchanging hands and not working out than there are ones that do work out. And, of course, the ones that do work out still tend to fall short.