Now I'm a little young to remember Osgood's years, but how often was he well within the top 6 for GAA/SV%. I agree about not calling Howard elite, but he provides more than solid goaltending I would say, he was 3rd in GAA and 7th in SV% last season. He's the 28th highest paid goalie, and well within the top 10 for performance. Sure it's great value, but are Vezina candidates the only goalies that provide more than solid?
Not to bag on Howard as I like the guy and think he's very good, but he's yet to fully prove himself in the post-season, whereas Osgood has, including in an outstanding 2009 run where he in many ways carried a crippled team to game 7 of the Finals before succumbing by 1 goal. Howard hasn't gotten much help though in his time, though again, in 2009, Osgood didn't either when you consider how many major injuries this team was dealing with, including to Lidstrom who actually missed games in the Playoffs.
I think Howard has what it takes to win on a team that can get the job done, but he's yet to prove he's an elite goalie when it counts most. And considering the ups and downs of many goalies careers, I still think it's a little tough to accurately judge Howard. He was great for most of the season last year before injury, but never returned to previous form once he was back in the lineup. He wasn't bad in the playoffs but he wasn't any better than the rest of the team, and the team thoroughly lost that series.
In any event, any way you shake it at this point, we're going to learn a lot about Jimmy Howard this season. Even if Holland makes some moves to strengthen the D, they're not going to be as strong as they've been the last few years. If Howard can make up for it and keep us in the playoff hunt and be a lights out post-season goalie, he'll deserve to be named among the elite. Until then, despite flashes of brilliance, it's tough to say he's among the best. The potential is obviously there, but the consistency and post-season success has yet to really surface.
But generally speaking, I think we're far too quick to throw out the term "elite goalie" in general these days. So many so-called "elite goalies" haven't had post-season success and if anything, have bombed in the post-season. Unless you're Hasek level great, I think it's tough to say a goalie is elite that hasn't taken his team deep into the playoffs. It's just too important of a part of the game to ignore. Hasek was able to give a lousy team a chance every night in his prime. He was elite despite not winning a Cup. I don't think you can say that about that many guys today.
But people didn't say that about Osgood either, and he has 3 Cup rings, 2 as a starter, was on the brink of a 3rd as well as a Conn Smythe trophy, and in his last Cup winning series, started the series by shutting out the powerhouse Penguins twice in a row.
So Luongo is elite, they say, but what is he best known for in the post-season?