An In-depth Analysis of Selecting a Fantasy Hockey Goalie
As we near the beginning of the 2014/2015 NHL season, many of you are beginning to prepare for your fantasy hockey draft. If you are looking for some quick last minute tips on how to draft the best team available to you, click here to read my previous article “Fantasy Hockey: Drafting 101″.
In this edition of Fantasy Hockey, we will be taking a look at various goalies throughout the NHL that could make or break your fantasy season. As highlighted in “Fantasy Hockey: Drafting 101”, the average fantasy team consists of only a handful of goalies that account for many heavily weighted categories, making them one of the most important selections of your draft. I suggested that fantasy GMs select a reputable starting goalie with an early pick; remember there are fewer valuable goalies than there are skaters.
Here is a look at my top 5 most valuable fantasy hockey goalies based on my predictions for the 2014/2015 season:
The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the best teams in the NHL. If they were to win the cup again within the next few years, the Blackhawks could be considered a modern NHL dynasty. Playing for a team of this caliber makes Corey Crawford an attractive selection for a fantasy hockey team.
In 59 games, Crawford finished with a respectable 32 wins, ranking him 10th in the NHL for this category. His GAA and SV% numbers have been rather steady throughout his career with the Blackhawks, making him a fairly safe bet for any fantasy team.
All in all, Corey Crawford is a solid goaltender, who not only puts up respectable numbers, but also plays for one of the best teams in the NHL (and only seems to be getting better). Look for both Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks to have a strong 2014/2015 campaign.
Carrying his team to the Stanley Cup Finals, Hendrik Lundqvist proved he is still one of the best goalies in the game. Unfortunately, the New York Rangers struggled for most of the 2013/2014 regular season, sending Lunqvist’s GAA to a ranking of 15th in the NHL. Although his GAA took a hit, he was able to post a very respectable SV%, and was also able to pull together an impressive 33 wins in 63 games.
The Rangers have made a few questionable moves in the off-season, losing the likes of Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, and Benoit Pouliot. Some additions were made, but the Rangers have seemed to place all hope of success in players who showed up during the playoffs. This gamble will no doubt directly influence the success of Hendrik Lundqvist’s season; however all of us hockey fans know what “The King” is capable of, making him a valuable fantasy asset.
3) Carey Price
The 2013/2014 campaign was without a doubt Carey Price’s best season by far. Many hockey fans entered the season with skepticism concerning Price’s legitimacy. Leading his team to a playoff position, and carrying them to the conference finals while wearing a 2014 Olympic Gold Medal around his neck. Price put all doubts aside to claim his spot as an elite NHL goaltender. Carey finished 4th in the NHL in SV%, and 6th in wins registered.
The Montreal Canadiens are entering the 2014/2015 NHL season after a massive transitional off-season. Losing core players Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, and Danny Briere, it is hard not to question whether the Montreal Canadiens will be able to emulate the success they experienced during both the regular season and playoffs last year. Habs management claim that these moves have opened doors for better, younger players to have their shot with the big club. A better, younger Canadiens roster could be the difference between making the playoffs, and being a contender.
Regardless of whether the moves made by General Manager Marc Bergevin have improved the Canadiens roster or not, look for Carey Price to yet again preform at an elite level, making him a valuable fantasy goaltender.
Not much of an explanation needed here. Jonathan Quick and the LA Kings prove every year that they are the real deal. Winning two of the last three Stanley Cups, the LA Kings continue to dominate the highly competitive Western Conference with Quick standing between the pipes. Last year, Quick finished 5th in GAA while earning 27 wins in only 49 games.
These are the numbers us hockey fans have come to expect from Jonathan Quick, and I do not see that changing anytime in the near future. If available, Jonathan Quick would be a huge asset to any fantasy hockey team.
1) Tuukka Rask
The Boston Bruins finish at top end of the Eastern Conference year in and year out. They are a big, strong, and talent infused team, from their depth upfront, to their oversized defense, to their elite goal-tending; the Bruins have been the best Eastern Conference team for the past several years.
The Bruins will have a similar roster to last year, with the biggest exception being Jarome Iginla (who had a fantastic season last year). Despite this loss, look for the Bruins and Tuukka Rask to have another successful season, finishing on the top end of the Eastern Conference.
Rask finished 4th in GAA, 2nd in SV%, and 5th in wins, and 1st in shutouts last season. The guy is fantasy gold. I would argue that Tuukka Rask should be a first round selection this year if the likes of Crosby, Stamkos, Getzlaf, etc. are no longer available.
(Goalies worth taking a shot on!)
Semyon Varlamov, Sergei Bobrovsky, Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, and Jonathan Bernier
The type of draft you are in should dictate which goalies you select. If your league focuses on wins, you want to select a goalie that may not necessarily be the most skilled, but that plays for a team that wins (Crawford, Niemi, Varlamov, etc.). If your league considers not only wins, but also statistics such as Goals Against Average (GAA), Save Percentage (SV%), and Shutouts (SO), then you will want to consider a goalie that not only plays for a winning team, but also puts up respectable GAA/SV %/SO numbers (Rask, Price, Quick, etc.). These goalies usually get selected early in all leagues, so do not wait too long to pull the trigger, good luck!