2024 NHL goalie mask power rankings: Color schemes, pets, cartoon characters and Will Ferrell - The Athletic

By Jesse Granger, Sean Gentille and Shayna Goldman

Welcome to The Athletic’s second-annual goalie mask power rankings, in which we admire the most artistic equipment on the ice and determine which are the best of the best. hockey cage

A goalie’s mask is one of the last remaining pieces of real estate used for personal expression in pro sports. Skaters take the ice every night with corporate logos pasted on their helmets, but for now, the netminders’ masks remain works of pure expression, and that’s worth celebrating. Some goalies stick with a team-centric theme, while others use the canvas to show a bit of personality.

Our writers scoured the NHL, and ranked the best goalie masks on each team from 1 to 32.

First, the guidelines: Unlike last year — when we chose the mask of each team’s primary starter — this year we took the most interesting mask design from each team, providing that goalie has played in the NHL at some point this season.

For the overall rankings, we averaged our three-person panel’s personal rankings. In the event that there were multiple masks with the same average, the tiebreaker went to the mask with the highest individual ranking.

Without further ado, goalie mask power rankings, working up to the best:

Granger: This is a clean design, and I particularly like the way the trumpets frame the jaw line, but in a year overflowing with outstanding paint jobs, Binnington’s is a bit bland.

Gentille: Good for what it is — seriously, I don’t think there was a bad one in this year’s batch — but that’s a boilerplate Devils mask. I like leaning on the forked tail, though.

Goldman: Two details stand out for me here: the subtle Islanders logos in the blue background, and paint dripping on the lettering. It’s a fine mask, it just doesn’t have that much personality or character otherwise to rate higher.

Goldman: If anything, the design is symmetrical to a fault – there’s no need to repeat the “City of Brotherly Love” on both sides of the cage and “Flyers” below it. But I like how the logo’s wings detail each side, plus I’m a sucker for the Swedish three crowns. The black cage takes it up a notch, too.

Granger: I like the aesthetic of the blue and green “V” on the top of the mask contrasting the black and white. It gives the mask a great look from straight on. The real gem of this design, though, is Will Ferrell’s Mugatu character from “Zoolander” on the backplate. Demko likes to randomly throw his favorite movie characters onto his masks.

Gentille: I was programmed in the late 1990s to love (Kings fan) Will Ferrell. It’s not his fault that jokes from his movies were beaten to death. I cannot, however, abide by the usage of “Stay Classy” in any context. I cannot and I will not. Even if there’s a fire.

Granger: Talbot’s Senators mask came in at No. 8 in last year’s rankings thanks to a celebrity cameo from Deadpool (back when Ryan Reynolds was in the running to own the Senators). He sticks with the movie star theme here, and this time the man on the mask is usually watching him from seats along the glass.

Goldman: I think last year we were a bit more critical with Skinner’s mask because it was pretty generic. This one has a little bit more flair, which is why it landed middle-of-the-road for me. A dark blue cage would have pushed it higher.

Gentille: I did not think I’d have this higher than my counterparts. I like the aesthetic. Matching the FDNY font with the Rangers nameplate is cool. I’m a sucker for the Statue of Liberty. I dunno.

Granger: On one hand, I understand why Shayna and Sean were much lower on this mask than I was, because there are essentially no personal touches with the design being very Panthers-centric. However, I overlooked that fact because it’s an incredibly sharp paint job, and the chrome finish looks great from a distance.

Granger: There’s no lack of personal touch in this mask. There are few things Hellebuyck enjoys more than fishing with his dog Tinley, and both are prominently displayed here. Some goalies sneak small personal features within their mask. Hellebuyck moved them to the forefront, and now his Alaskan malamute can stare shooters down as they approach his crease.

Granger: To quote the great Ron Burgundy from Talbot’s mask, “I am too hurt. I am shocked and offended and hurt,” by Shayna and Sean’s rankings of Andersen’s gorgeous mask. From afar, it may look like a simple black design with the Hurricane logo, but up close, the details of this paint job are spectacular. I love everything about this design.

Granger: I’m a sucker for masks that integrate nicknames or homages to former greats, and this one has both. Not only does the majestic eagle honor Woll’s alma mater, Boston College, but it also pays tribute to former Leaf Eddie Belfour, who had one of the most iconic masks in NHL history. The brick “Woll” background completes a clean, meaningful paint job.

Goldman: I think we all generally want to see goalie masks that pop, but this one just nails it with the simplicity. It isn’t too busy and it still has some character. I think it pairs well with a relatively boring jersey.

Gentille: I think this came up for me last season – I just like cartoons. I like seeing them on masks. Not too deep. Look at Jerry! He’s on a little monster truck!

Gentille: Black is underused as a primary color on masks. I love the detail work here; mixing in some blue, maybe for Chicago’s flag, is a nice touch. Also, I’m a sucker for skyline silhouettes, and you’re not going to find a better one.

Granger: A mask design built around one of the funniest nicknames in hockey — Optimus Reim — was too good for me to keep out of my top 10. Also, the Red Wings logos on the sides aren’t unique — many Detroit goalies have gone with a similar look — but they always look great.

Granger: There’s a lot of personality crammed into this Mario Kart-themed mask. One kart is occupied by cartoons of Wedgewood’s dogs, Captain and Bucky, along with baby Peach — because Scott and his wife, Brittany, are expecting a daughter this year. The other kart is driven by two characters that are nods to nicknames of Wedgewood’s teammates, Jake “Otter” Oettinger and Jason “Robot” Robertson. The fact that they all dressed as Mario Kart characters last Halloween only makes this design better.

Granger: More than anything, I just love how the gold on this mask pops. Korpisalo looks like he’s wearing a gladiator helmet, and the details in the gold are almost too pretty to shoot pucks at. The matching gold cage is an important element that really ties the look together.

Granger: There have been so many Sharks masks over the years with shark teeth around the cage, so it takes quite a bit of creativity to come up with something fresh. I think Blackwood and Gunnarsson succeeded here, with a comic book style.

Granger: It’s a shame that Hill was injured during the Winter Classic, because this toque-style mask by Fried is spectacular. Not only is it designed to look like a beanie in the shape of a Golden Knights mask, but it’s complete with the skate lace ties near the chin, and pom-pom on top.

Goldman: I think last year we were all pretty harsh on the Canadiens’ entry on this list, but Montembeault’s mask was one I kept moving up the rankings. It gives a nice nod to the Canadiens’ history without being boring. And the worn and shredded knit element is such a nice, subtle detail.

Gentille: At some point, I’m going to stop saying, “Hey, the Kachina” every time I see the Kachina. It’s back to being the Coyotes’ primary logo. Today, though, is not that day. I feel like this would clock in higher if the motorcycle were a little more clear, but that’s easier said than done.

Goldman: The Predators’ logo is so cool and gives goaltenders a lot of room to make something as sick as this, so the bar is pretty high for these masks. This one is simply badass. Are we allowed to say that here? It’s the best way I can think to describe it. And I love that it gives that vibe while using a color that is as bright and happy as yellow. The only thing I think this is missing is more navy – maybe a darker cage would have kicked this into the top five.

Goldman: When we started looking at the masks, I knew immediately there were two netminders I wanted to find: Vasilevskiy and Saros. Vasilevskiy always does it right. Sure, he has a leg up on some other teams because he gets to incorporate lightning into every design which looks sick. But his masks just always bring exactly what you would want to see from someone who goes by the name “Big Cat.”

Gentille: If they had ditched the clunky “May the Force Be With You” on the back, this might’ve been my No. 1. The design is strong (parallel lightsabers from Darth Vader and Darth Maul); it’s a reference to the team (Sabres/sabers); and it has personal meaning (Levi assumes a Jedi-inspired pose during TV timeouts). I’m not looking for much more than that.

Gentille: Now, I figured I’d be alone on this one. Any Ken Griffey Jr. reference whatsoever puts you in my top 50 percent, and I like the rest of the design more than enough to bump it up even further. I love Seattle’s color scheme, and the mountain has Ukiyo-e/“pictures of the floating world” vibes. Also, there’s an Arizona State Sun Devil hiding in there for some cartoon bonus points.

Gentille: This isn’t my favorite skull-centric mask of the season, but the gap between that one and Prosvetov’s isn’t huge, either.

Granger: Hang this mask in the Louvre. There are so many incredible details, I can’t even write about them all. The hanging beads give the paint job movement, the lines on the skeleton faces and roses are so precise, the Blue Jackets logo looks as though it was stitched on, and the gradient paint on the cage is perfect. It’s a work of art.

Goldman: A black-and-white mask could easily lean on the boring side, but this is simplicity at its best. It’s extra appropriate for the Bruins’ centennial season. The yellow is toned down in Boston this year for more of a gold approach, and I think that could have led to a cheesier mask. Instead, this gives the perfect throwback vibes, with a subtle nod to Bruins legends past.

Granger: No current goalie puts out spectacular mask designs more consistently than Markstrom. His flaming skull design took the top spot in last year’s power rankings, and this knitted skull might be even better. The random loose strings give this paint job such a realistic look, it’s almost hard to believe it’s paint. As he usually does, Bourgeault customized the back straps to complete the look.

Goldman: This, to me, is absolute perfection. Dostál obviously has one of the best color schemes to work with here, so that helps. But they crushed it with the actual design, too. It’s a fresh take on the team’s 30th anniversary. Sometimes these makes can get too tribute-y, if that makes sense. Here, the jersey retirement detail is so subtle and smooth.

Goldman: Where to even begin here? It is so clean and perfect from a design perspective. It isn’t loud in the slightest, and yet it says so much. It is just so unique compared to every other speciality mask, and the meaning behind it (and Fleury’s insistence to wear it, despite the controversy the league created) adds that much more value.

Granger: Looking back, I could’ve had this mask even higher than I did. It’s a simple yet gorgeous design that looks as good from the upper bowl as it does up close. As Shayna pointed out, the meaning behind the mask only adds to its legend. Fleury wore the mask in part to honor his wife, Véronique, who is of Abenaki and Mi’kmaq descent. It was designed by Dakota artist Cole Redhorse Taylor, and was eventually auctioned for more than $35,000 to benefit the American Indian Family Center.

The mask features the Dakota phrase “Mni sota makoce,” which means “land of the cloudy waters or the misty waters,” according to the artist.

(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; photos: Jeff Vinnick, Bruce Kluckhohn, Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Get all-access to exclusive stories.

cheap hockey helmets Subscribe to The Athletic for in-depth coverage of your favorite players, teams, leagues and clubs. Try a week on us.