Before I begin with my countdown of the greatest goalies in Oilers history, I will first lay out the criteria. This isn’t simply a list of the best goaltenders that have played in Edmonton, but rather, it is a list specifically built around the contributions that were made with the Oilers organization. For example, Cam Talbot has had some strong seasons with the Rangers, Flames, and Wild during his career, but only his seasons with the Oilers were considered when constructing the list. With that out of the way, let’s get started with number 5.
5. Tommy Salo
Unlike the rest of the goalies on this list, Salo was never able to lead Edmonton to the Stanley Cup Final. In fact, Salo’s Oilers never made it out of the first round. Still, Salo got the Oilers to the playoffs four times during his six-year tenure and had excellent regular seasons in 2000 and 2002. He was also a brick wall in the playoff series against the Dallas Stars during the Western Conference Quarter-Finals in 2001. Despite his .920 SV%, the Oilers lost the series in six games to a more talented Stars club. It would have been interesting to see if Salo could backstop a better team to a deep playoff run. Still, he and the Oilers could never get over the hump in the early 2000s, thanks in part to the low budget the franchise was forced to operate under.
4. Dwayne Roloson
At the 2006 trade deadline, the Oilers decided to swing for the fences, and Kevin Lowe made a series of significant trades that gave Edmonton a boost for a playoff push. Their most key acquisition that season was Dwayne Roloson. He built a lasting legacy in Edmonton for his incredible performance that led the 8th seeded Oilers to a Cinderella Stanley Cup Final run. That year, Roloson had a .927 SV% in the playoffs and 13.1 goals saved above expected (GSAx). He was unfortunately injured in game one of the Finals against the Hurricanes, and the Oilers lost the series in seven games. Many people still believe that with Roloson between the pipes, Edmonton would have won the Stanley Cup that year. The Oilers could never ice a playoff team in front of Roloson again, which was unfortunate given his solid playoff track record. Despite the struggling teams in front of him, Roloson managed respectable numbers for the Oilers, including his final season in Edmonton, where he put up a .915 SV%.
3. Andy Moog
Before Grant Fuhr took over the starting job, Moog led the Oilers to their first Stanley Cup Final in 1983, where they ultimately lost to the New York Islanders. Moog would remain in tandem with Fuhr until 1987 when he was traded for Bill Ranford. While he was most often on the bench during the playoff runs in the 1980s, he played a substantial chunk of the regular season games and appeared in at least one playoff game in each of the first three Stanley Cup runs for the Oilers. Eventually, the Oilers decided to move on from Moog, and he was sent to Boston. Moog may have been overshadowed by Fuhr and Ranford’s postseason contributions, however, he still played a significant role on some of those early Oiler teams, and he ended up going down in the history books as one of the better goalies of the 80s and 90s.
2. Bill Ranford
In 1987, Ranford began backing up Grant Fuhr, and he was on the bench for Edmonton’s 1978-88 Stanley Cup victory. In 1990, he came into his own, leading the charge for a fifth championship in less than a decade. Ranford was absolutely amazing in the 1990 Stanley Cup playoffs and became the first and only Oilers goalie to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. When Wayne Gretzky was dealt to Los Angeles, it was uncertain whether or not the team was capable of another run, but Ranford’s stellar goaltending shut down the doubters. Without him, it’s unlikely the Oilers would have been able to win that fifth cup. Ranford would go on to backstop the Oilers until 1996 and returned briefly in 1999-2000, which would be enough to earn him the most games played by a goaltender in franchise history.
1. Grant Fuhr
During the Oilers’ 1980s dynasty, Grant Fuhr was the starting goaltender for 4 Stanley Cup wins and built up a resume that included recording the most wins by any Oilers goalie and becoming the only goalie in franchise history to win the Vezina Trophy. Fuhr is also the only goaltender to have his number hanging from the rafters at Rogers Place. When people give credit to certain players for leading the Oilers to their Stanley Cup victories, Fuhr often gets lost in the shuffle due to the numerous Hall of Fame teammates he had. While the 80s Oilers were perhaps the best offensive team in NHL history, they did have their defensive breakdowns at times, and Fuhr was there to settle things down in what were often hectic games. Grant Fuhr is by far the most accomplished goalie to suit up for this franchise, so the choice was easy.
Other noteworthy Oilers netminders that almost cracked the list include Cam Talbot, Mike Smith, and Curtis Joseph. Talbot was fantastic during the 2016-17 season and even managed to tie for the most wins in a season in Oilers history. Mike Smith played terrific during the shortened 2021 season that saw him among the league leaders in SV% and GSAx. Unfortunately, neither of these goalkeepers had very long runs of success with Edmonton, as Talbot had a mediocre tenure for the rest of his Oiler career after 2017. Smith had a decent 2019-20 season prior to his big year in 2021, but his play has since fallen off a cliff as he enters the home stretch of his career. Curtis Joseph may be one of the greatest goalies to ever play for the Oilers. Still, the vast majority of his success came in other organizations, and his numbers with the Oilers were actually pretty pedestrian by his standards. I decided to leave these keepers off the list with these criteria in mind.