Net Impact: Who Is The Best Goalie in the NLL?

There are a few metrics out there to determine the best players. From an offensive standpoint, it’s pretty easy: most goals, most assists, most points. From a defensive standpoint, we have loose balls and forced turnovers, which can give you some valuable information, but doesn’t truly give you the full picture. And goalies are kind of in the middle of those two extremes: lots of stats, but none tell the whole story.

So let’s have a look at what we’ve got this season and see if we can figure out who is the king of the goaltending mountain in 2014.

When you go to the Stats page on, you’ll see three goalie-related lists: Wins, Goals Against Average, and Saves. These are the Big Three for evaluating goaltending prowess, although there’s one more critical stat to look at  (more on that later).

As of right now, the Top 3 in Wins are:

1. Aaron Bold—14

2. Matt Vinc—11

2. Mike Poulin—11

The Top 3 in Goals Against Average are:

1. Aaron Bold—8.96

2. Matt Vinc—9.26

3. Anthony Cosmo—10.47

And the Top 3 in Saves are:

1. Anthony Cosmo—714 (a new NLL record)

2. Mike Poulin—569

3. Matt Vinc—555

Interestingly, there are only four names spread among those three categories, with just one player—the Rochester Knighthawks’ Vinc—appearing on all three lists. So chances are pretty good that we’ll find our winner in this group, although each list paints a slightly different picture of what’s going on.

Bold, of the Edmonton Rush, for example, leads two of the three categories, but he’s only sixth in the league in saves in spite of logging the second-most minutes of game time (950:45), behind the Buffalo Bandits’ Cosmo. The fact of the matter is that Bold is playing behind the best defense in the NLL, which is making his job considerably easier as he doesn’t see anywhere near as many shots per game as the other goalies in the league.

Former Goaltender of the Year winner Cosmo, on the other hand, has put in the most minutes among goalies (1,008:14), faced the most shots, and still finds himself with the third-best goals against average. Pretty impressive.

Poulin, from the Calgary Roughnecks, is also a former Goaltender of the Year and is tied for second in wins with Vinc while being third in saves. The gap in his resume is GAA where his 11.69 is only seventh-best in the league, giving him the weakest claim to the throne.

And then there’s defending Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc. Tied for the second-most wins with Mike Poulin, second in GAA and third in Saves, Vinc is having yet another outstanding season and being in the Top 3 in all three of the big stat categories has to keep him in the conversation for best of the best once again.

Which brings me to that fourth category I mentioned earlier. While you might rack up wins by virtue of playing for a good team, you might pick up saves by playing for a team with a mediocre defense and you might keep your GAA down by having a great defense in front of you, save percentage can help us by showing what you actually did with the shots you faced. Here’s our Top 3 in that category:

1. Anthony Cosmo—.802

2. Matt Vinc—.802

3. Aaron Bold—.785

Cosmo and Vinc are in a virtual dead heat in this stat, with Cosmo ahead by less than one 10th of one percent. But it also shows Bold to be a distant third and Poulin completely out of the picture (he’s fifth, at .767).

For my money, this prize has to go to Cosmo. Although Vinc has the edge in wins, Cosmo has faced 198 more shots than Vinc—that’s 11.6 more per game—and still stopped the same percentage of shots, which is some outstanding work. While Rochester is still probably a playoff-caliber team without Vinc, the Bandits would be going nowhere fast without the superb play of Cosmo between the pipes this year.

So there you have it. The numbers say that the best goalie in the league this year is Anthony Cosmo. Congrats!