Following up on my article about the 10 best fantasy hockey forwards, here's an article about the 10 best goalies.
The stat categories used to evaluate the goaltenders are: wins, GAA, save percentage, and shutouts. I would still never take a goalie in the first round of a fantasy draft, but once they start going off the board, the best will be gone quicker than you know it.
This is far from scientific, just using some educated guesses and opinions, but hopefully this helps you out in your pools. I'd love to here your thoughts on the list too.
Why is the goalie who played in, and won the most games in the regular season last year only in 10th place?
Well because his GAA, and save percentage were downright terrible. I think those numbers will improve this year, but only if Kipper starts a few less games next year. The addition of Boumeester should also help his numbers.
However, his numbers (excluding wins) have been on a steady decline the last couple of seasons, and although they should only get better this season, Kipper's best days seem to be behind him. He just beats out Marc-Andre Fleury to make the list.
I think Ryan Miller is one of the most underrated goalies in the NHL.
He had great numbers and would have had even better numbers if not for his ankle injury in the middle of the year. The definition of a reliable goaltender, next season could be his breakout year. Or it could prove to be just another great year for a great goaltender.
When you play in an offensively gifted division, you'd better hope your team is good defensively. The New York Rangers are not good defensively. Trading Gomez for Higgins doesn't help either.
This is not to slight Henrik Lundquist, however, who is one of the best goaltenders in the league. He will have to be at his very best every night for the Rangers to compete, but if anyone can do it, King Henrik can. Great win and SV percentage numbers. But his GAA and shutouts will be good to average. Good luck Hank!
Over the last two months of the regular season, Cam Ward was the best goaltender in the league. I'm still not fully sold on Carolina, however, even with their deep playoff run.
Last year was Ward's fantasy breakout year, as he was top 10 in every category, and had a far better GAA and save percentage numbers than his career averages. He should go higher than this in keeper leagues, as a higher upside than most of the goaltenders on his talent level.
Either way, Cam Ward should be a solid choice this season.
Nabokov gets the five spot this year, but I'm willing to bet that he will be lower next year. The Sharks are in "win now" mode and could have a very different roster come next August.
Regardless, Nabokov is still a lock for 30 wins, and a good GAA. Shutouts and save percentage will be decent, and the lack of a strong backup in San Jose also helps his cause.
Caveat: This ranking mainly comes from Nabokov's consistency, and the numbers he is most likely to put up; however, I would say that he doesn't have a very high potential beyond his regular 30-win, sub 2.50 GAA stats.
Backstrom would be higher if Jacques Lemaire was still coaching the Minnesota Wild, but all is not lost for the Finn.
Minnesota may claim to want to play more offensively, but change like that does not happen overnight. Especially when the group of players remains largely the same. He was the only goalie to be top five in all fantasy categories last year and could easily repeat this year; even without Lemaire (and Gaborik).
Is it the goalie or the system in Columbus?
Two years ago Pascal Leclaire had an incredible season and everyone believed he would finally live up to his hype. Last year, Leclaire faltered early, and the reins were suddenly thrust into the hands of Steve Mason.
Well Mason went on to have a better season, claiming the Calder trophy and challenging for the Vezina. All we know is that Mason is assured the starting job this year and is still playing for Hitchcock.
He will hit the sophomore slump at some point this year, but if you stick with him, he might just win you a fantasy title. He is great in all fantasy categories, but Columbus won't win any shootouts so the pressure will always be on Mason to perform.
Intuitively you will think this ranking is too high. However, Brodeur's regular seasons have always been incredible, so long as he stays healthy. If he stays healthy, he will play in front of the best defensive team in hockey, especially with the defense-first guru Jacques Lemaire at the helm.
He will challenge for the win, GAA and shutout crowns this year and could very well return to being the best fantasy goaltender in the NHL. That's if, he stays healthy of course.
Probably the best goaltender in the NHL, and likely the No. 1 goalie taken in keeper leagues, Roberto Luongo has pretty much everything going for him.
Everything except playing in the most competitive division in the league. The loss of Mattias Ohlund doesn't help things either. Despite that, Luongo should challenge for the most wins and shutouts. His save percentage and goals against will also be good, but ultimately they aren't enough to make him the best fantasy goalie option...
This will probably be the first year that Tim Thomas will be drafted in any fantasy draft, and ultimately, there's no reason that he shouldn't be the first goalie to go off of the board.
The Northeast is probably one of the weaker goal scoring divisions in the NHL, and the Bruins have great team defense. Thomas will likely get more starts this year, as well, which is a great thing for people who pick him. He will post great win and shutout numbers and looks to lead the league in goals against and save percentage.
Honorable mentions go to Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh), Chris Mason (St. Louis), Pekka Rinne (Nashville) and Chris Osgood (Detroit).