While making note of Tom Barrasso's selection for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame last week, we kind of began comparing him with Marc-Andre Fleury in terms of who was/is the better goaltender. Given that Fleury's body of work as a Penguins is far from over, it's probably not an easy debate. For the time being, we'll give the edge to Barrasso since two Stanley Cup rings is better than one Stanley Cup ring.
But that's not the point of this post. It's pretty clear that Barrasso and Fleury are in no particular order, first and second when it comes to Penguins goaltenders.
We want to ask you, who is No. 3? After the top two, it's a pretty eclectic grab bag of goaltenders. Not one of them will ever make you forget George Hainsworth but at the same time, they had their moments when they looked unbeatable.
When we compiled this list of candidates, we basically considered one factor; longevity. You had to be with the Penguins for some sort of significant period of time and you had to be a regular starter for at least a season. Guys like Patrick Lalime, Frank Pietrangelo, Ty Conklin or Ron Tugnutt had brilliant stretches at times in between the pipes for the Penguins, but they were never regular starters.
Here's our list of candidates in alphabetical order. Feel free to vote your favorite or add another name in the comments down below:
Note: Save percentage totals are not available for all players.
Stats with Penguins - 168 games played, 63-72-11 record, 2.92 goals against average, .901 save percentage
Why him - Led all NHL rookies with 23 wins in 1999-2000 while leading the club with 51 games played. Won 20 games in 26 appearances the following season.
Why not him - Never managed to nail down a starting job with Penguins despite ample opportunities.
Stats with Penguins - 196 games played, 58-94-34 record, 3.14 goals against average
Why him - Binkley essentially was the Penguins' first starting goaltender and earned 20 wins with the expansion club in 1967-68. He was the primary starter the first two seasons of the club's existence and led it to its first playoff series win, a four-game sweep of the Oakland Seals in the 1970 playoffs. He has the third most shutouts all-time in franchise history with 11.
Why not him - He arrived at the NHL at the ripe age of 33 in 1967 and eventually platooned the position with younger guys like Al Smith and Jim Rutherford his final three seasons with the franchise.
Stats with the Penguins - 151 games played, 42-79-20 record, 4.28 goals against average, .856 save percentage
Why him - To this day, Dion remains the only Penguins goaltender ever selected to an all-star game. He appeared in the 1982 contest. In the 1982 playoffs, he nearly led the club to a monumental upset of the Islanders in the first round.
Why not him - After winning 25 games during his all-star season, Dion was never able to maintain his stellar play and only won 17 games combined over the course of the next three seasons.
Stats with the Penguins - 116 games played, 46-57-12 record, 2.88 goals against average, .901 save percentage
Why him - After being acquired from the Sharks at the 2001 trade deadline, the Moose basically took over as the team's starter late in the regular season and led it on a memorable playoff run. He remained the franchise's starter for two more seasons.
Why not him - Hedberg played well for a poor team in 2001-02, but still managed to lead the league with 34 losses. That total also stands as a single-season franchise record. He also managed to inspire a bobblehead that appears to be wearing rouge.
Stats with the Penguins - 290 games played, 88-133-44 record, 3.88 goals against average, .879 save percentage
Why him - Herron is generally considered a good goaltender who was stuck on some mostly poor teams. He had three stints with the Penguins and led them to playoff appearances in 1977 and 1979. He is second to Tom Barrasso (460) in games played by a goaltender for the franchise.
Why not him - Regardless of the talent around him, Herron's numbers with the club are simply brutal. Despite playing in 170 fewer games than Barrasso, he is only 20 losses behind him on the franchises career losses list.
Stats with the Penguins - 135 games played, 57-56-18 record, 3.83 goals against average
Why him - Millen became the team's starter at the age of 22 and led it to playoff appearances in 1980 and 1981. He is one of four goaltenders in team history who have made over 100 career appearances and have a winning record. Barrasso (226-153-53), Fleury (111-85-26) and Ken Wregget (see his number down below) are the others.
Why not him - A contract squabble cut his time in Pittsburgh short and he signed with the Whalers as a free agent in 1981. Millen led the league in losses (27) and goals allowed (258) in 1980-81.
Stats with the Penguins - 115 games played, 44-49-14 record, 3.14 goals against average
Why him - Rutherford served as the team's primary goaltender for two seasons and led it to its second playoff appearance in 1972.
Why not him - His time as a Penguins was very unremarkable in either a positive or negative sense.
Stats with the Penguins - 212 games played, 104-67-21 record, 3.29 goals against average, .898 save percentage
Why him - Despite being a backup most of his time as a Penguin, Wregget did fill in at times as a starter for the injured Barrasso and was second on the team's career wins list as recently as this past season when Fleury passed him. Wregget also led the league in wins in 1994-95 with 25 and served as the team's primary starter in three playoff appearances.
Why not him - Regardless of his success, he was never a No. 1 goaltender going into a season.
Personally, we'll give the nod to Wregget as the third-best goaltender in team history due to the fact that he did play outstanding when he was pressed into a clutch postseason situation such as the four-overtime thriller versus Washington in 1996. And there are many who feel if he were in net versus Florida that same playoff run, the Penguins would've been playing the Avalanche for the Stanley Cup.