I honestly think goalies might be the tougher task - mainly because we, as a community know very little about goalies prior to 1950 - there are no easy stats to guide us like ther are with forwards. If we do goalies, I'm planning on starting a dedicated preliminary research thread to pre-1950 goalies that will run for some time before we start accepting lists.
But you're right - the actual list for goalies will be a lot shorter. If we split up forwards, I could see us doing both wings as separate projects this summer (back to back) since the wings will be the shortest projects, then take another long break before centers. That's if we split forwards up though.
Might I suggest this get's started now.
Even if Goal is the last position debated, (Hasek #1 baby ) adjusting for the pre 1950 period could be the most complicated dynamic to figure out.
Just for S&G's Just how valuable is The Most Unbeatable Record in Sports?
I'm putting Hall ahead of Wilt and DiMaggio, which is another debate.
I would like to know more about the goalies who were great without necessarily being a top-2 goalie in the league. If a goalie project would expand my knowledge there, it would be appreciated. For example, it would be great to see attempts at ranking the best goalies for each season, similar to seasonal ranking (for example based on votings) that was provided in the defencemen project, to see if there were guys who constantly appeared to be top-4 or so goalies in the NHL. The overall top 20-40 (or however many you rank) might be even more interesting than the overall top-10.
Goalies also are very influencial. It is being said that "the goalie is half the team", and "you cannot win the Stanley Cup without a great/good goalie". 4 of the last 10 Conn Smythe winners have been goalies.
Let's compare a goalie with save percentage of .920 with one with .880. What that actually tells us is that the latter goalie allows 3 goals for every 2 goals the former allows. That might equal 1.5 goal more per game.
It might give the "great goalie" team a goal difference of 230-210 while the "worse goalie" team gets say 230-315. The first team likely finish above average, making the playoffs, while the second probably finish at the bottom of the league.
On a single skater level, the same skater could be say 70-60=+10 or 70-90=-20 depending on having a prime Roy or having a considerably "worse" goalie.
(It's just a thought example, and in reality more things should be considered, and save percentage is in itself biased, etc. etc.)
Goalies have changed the outcome for many teams, and contributed a lot to make individual skaters get a reputation as "winners" or "non-winners".
* Would Bourque have gotten his Stanley Cup without Roy? Would he in fact have won several time if having a Roy caliber goalie on his team during the majority of his career?
* Would Boston have won last year without Tim Thomas? Would instead the Sedins, Luongo, Kesler et al have won it?
* How impressive would Bobby Clarke's prime stats defensively (GA) look without Bernie Parent? What about Philadephia overall during that time?
* What would the Summit Series of 1972 (and other international tournaments) have been without Tretiak?
* Would Czech Republic have won gold in the 1998 Olympics without Hasek?
and so on...
Having a greater understanding of goaltending, and its influence on team level success (and individual +/-) might be helpful when attempting to do a best forwards (or redo a best defencemen) list.
(A question that arises is how to treat Original 6 goalies. The 4th best goalie there might be considered "below average", while the 10th best goalie of today might be considered "above average". Being the 6th best goalie in the NHL today is considered being a top class goalie, while a goalie being the 6th best in the O6 era might not have been looked upon that way.)
It was not an option now, but eventually I would find a "best NHL teams" project interesting. Or team with best defencemen (I suppose the 1970s Montreal might rank highly), or team with best forwards, or team with best skaters.
Exhibit A as to how hockey doesn't matter on ESPN:
Last night an ESPN program was discussing how the Detroit Pistons needed a hero citing the heroes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and no mention of the Detroit Red Wings. All this despite the Red Wings probably being the most succesful team in Detroit right now.
I picked forwards, but it really doesn't matter to me. What does matter is that we rank all 3 forward positions separately...I would easily trade my vote in this poll for a second vote in the poll that makes that decision
I voted forwards. I'd like to be involved in this project, and feel that, as a novice, forwards would be much easier for me to research and provide an informed list. Something to cut my teeth on, if you will.