3 goalies that represent the future of the NHL

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring's down in the NHL. With talk about potentially bigger nets, or bigger ice, what will get smaller next year is goalie equipment. But the men between the pipes are incredible athletes who have all but mastered their art. They will adapt, and they will raise the bar, again.

The future of hockey is in the crease, and below are three goaltenders who will dominate headlines for the next decade.

Connor Hellebuyck

The Winnipeg Jets finally have a goalie.

A fifth-round draft pick in 2012, 130th overall, Connor Hellebuyck has never had a save percentage below .921 in any season in pro hockey - and that includes the NHL.

Season League GP SV% SO
2011-12 NAHL 53 .930 3
2012-13 NCAA 24 .952 6
2013-14 NCAA 29 .941 6
2014-15 AHL 58 .921 6
2015-16 AHL 10 .927 1
2015-16 NHL 22 .927 2

Only 22, Hellebuyck got his chance when Ondrej Pavelec went down to injury in late November - and he's run with it. And while Hellebuyck was never a too-hyped prospect, he's the present for the Jets as they fight for a playoff spot this season, and the future.

Hellebuyck is following in the footsteps of countrymen Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick, and Cory Schneider, and is another young American goalie on the rise, like the next man on our list.

John Gibson

Anaheim Ducks phenom John Gibson is the goaltender many have never heard about. But that's going to change.

Not only was Gibson an All-Star this season, he was instrumental in helping the Pacific Division to the title in the 3-on-3 tournament. He shut the door in the second half of his team's 1-0 victory of the Atlantic Division, stopping all seven shots he faced.

Now on his third stint with the Ducks, it appears Gibson is finally done with the AHL. He's allowed only 38 goals in 21 games - his 1.91 GAA is the best in the NHL - and his .923 save percentage is in the top 20.

Season Age SV% GP SO
2013-14 20 .954 3 1
2013-14 Playoffs 20 .919 4 1
2014-15 21 .914 23 1
2015-16 22 .923 21 4

While most around hockey have appointed Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin the league's top rookie, Gibson may have something to say about that, especially if the Ducks continue to soar - all the way into the playoffs.

Braden Holtby

The Washington Capitals are the NHL's best team. A big reason for their success is the fact they employ the league's best goalie: Braden Holtby.

At 26, Holtby's the elder statesman on this list, but he's only getting better. And he's remarkably consistent, starting a whopping 72 games in 2014-15, and he's on pace to equal that mark this season - and win 55 games. No goalie's ever won more than Martin Brodeur's 48.

Season GP SV% SO
2012-13 36 .920 4
2013-14 48 .915 4
2014-15 73 .923 9
2015-16 39 .929 2

Holtby first made headlines in 2012, as a 22-year-old rookie, when he was superb in 14 postseason games for the Capitals, posting a .935 save percentage. Last season, he was even better in the playoffs, recording a remarkable .944 save percentage, as the Capitals again fell in the second round. Make no mistake: There's a Vezina Trophy in his future.

Washington's best chance to win a Stanley Cup is now. Holtby's a major reason why. He plays his best hockey when he faces the most pressure, and it's going to be a tense spring in the U.S. capital. But the Capitals are in good hands, this year and for years to come.

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