Goaltending plays as big of a role in fantasy hockey as it does in the real life NHL. Fantasy statistics like starts, wins, goals against, shutouts, and save percentage can really add up.
Most leagues involve drafting two starting goalies and one bench goalie. Last year, I was lucky enough to draft Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas in the 11th round and Henrik Lundqvist in the second round.
My bench goaltender happened to Ilyz Bryzgalov, which worked out well since Tim Thomas appeared in under 60 games.
Nonetheless, it is always smart to build around goaltending. Picking an elite goaltender early is smart because there are so many scorers available to be selected in the later round.
This slideshow will take a look at some goalies you should draft as soon as possible.
Tomas Vokoun now has a fresh lease on life. He has left the disparaging Florida Panthers and is on a Stanley Cup contender in the Washington Capitals.
Vokoun is a goalie who was drafted in the third to fifth round in previous years due to his team standing. With the Capitals, Vokoun can easily win 35 to 40 games.
He could single-handedly be your steal of the draft. Vokoun will provide you with wins and will put up solid numbers in save percentage and goals against.
You may be skeptical in drafting him so early, but don't make the mistake because someone will be bold enough to draft him.
Overall Draft Status: First Round 15th to 20th Pick Overall
THN Season Predicitions
2.18 GAA, .925 Sv% and Four Shutouts
Before you click to another article, Roberto Luongo has been dominant during the regular season.
He has hit the 40-win mark before and often finishes in the top five for major goaltending statical categories.
This will be very rewarding as wins can earn you five to 10 points per appearance depending on your league's rules.
Luongo is a solid goalie you can depend on in your fantasy league because he will pick up points for you every week. In addition, Luongo has been ranked No. 1 by ESPN in their 2011-12 Fantasy Draft predictions.
Overall Draft Status- First Round, Tenth Pick to Twelfth Pick Overall
2.39 G.A.A., .922 Sv% and Four Shutouts
King Henrik is a goalie that I selected with my first overall pick in the draft. Call me crazy, but I was still able to scoop up players like Mike Richards, Alex Tanguay, Jaromir Jagr, John Tavares, and etc.
In fantasy hockey, Henrik is a goalie worth going all in for a few reasons.
1. Henrik is a workhorse
Henrik Lundqvist typically appears in 65 or more games a year. His career high for appearances in 73. Goalies earn points for starts, so that is a big plus.
2. Henrik is "Captain Shutout"
Lundqvist has a knack of stealing games and shutting the door of his opponents. Last year, Henrik recorded 11 shutouts. Some leagues award anywhere from 10 to 25 points per shutout. In tight contests, these extra points can help week to week.
3. Henrik averages at least 30 wins a season and finished in top 10 in stat categories
Lastly, Henrik will win anywhere from 30 to more games a year. He has a pretty solid save percentage and goals against average, and these will help you earn points week to week.
Overall Draft Status- First Round, Fourth to Eighth Pick Overall
2.35 G.A.A, .922 SV% and 10 Shutouts
Ilya Bryzgalov has joined a Philadelphia Flyers team that has had success in the past. Bryzgalov is a solid goaltender that is worth drafting.
He will win you at least 30 games and will finish high in the statistical categories, which can earn you points week to week.
He is a sleeper pick in my opinion because he has had past success, and he could increase his numbers now that he is on a legitimate playoff team.
Bryzgalov has a fighting shot to challenge for the Vezina, so he is worth drafting.
Overall Draft Status: Second Round
2.31 G.A.A. .922 Sv% and Four Shutouts
Pekka Rinne is a goalie that has really improved since entering the NHL. He is already considered to be one the league's premier goaltenders.
Rinne makes this list for a few reasons. Rinne will win 30 to 40 games, he will finish in the top five to top 10 in the major statistical categories for goaltenders, and he will stay healthy.
Rinne is also another goalie that has the chance of stealing games and recording shutouts. This is one player who is going to get a raise when his current contract is up next summer.
Drafting Rinne will be a good move that will pay off in your fantasy league.
Overall Draft Status: First Round Sixth to Ninth Pick
2.22 G.A.A., .920 Sv% and Six Shutouts
Marc-Andre Fleury was named the seventh overall in the top 25 by the Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy pre-season goalie power ranking.
If anyone feels that this is a pick out of left field, explain to me how the Penguins finished the 2010-11 season by setting a franchise record in points and wins without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal for most of the season?
Fleury's superb goaltending led the Penguins through the regular season and into the Stanley Cup quarterfinals. Had it not been for Steven Stamkos and the offensively stacked Tampa Bay Lightning, the Penguins may have been able to squeak into the later rounds of the playoffs.
In the regular season, Fleury will win around 35 games or more. He will also put up decent numbers in goals against and save percentage.
Overall Draft Status: Second to Third Round
2.43 G.A.A, .915 Sv% and Four Shutouts
This slide is left blank for now. It will be filled in once the winner has been chosen.
Check later in the slideshow for rules on how to enter the mystery slide contest.
The following goalies are gems that if still available you can pick up if you decided to draft scorers first, or if you want to add a solid No. 2.
Tim Thomas- Late First Round/ Early Second Round
Tim Thomas is a great goaltender but could show some signs of age. Can he really top or duplicate his numbers from last season? It is highly unlikely, but time will tell.
Cam Ward- Mid Second Round to Early Third Round
Cam Ward is another goalie who is a workhorse and can hit the 35 win plateau. He puts up decent numbers and will give you a shutout or two. If his still on the board in the late second round, pick him up because chances are he won't be when your pick is up next.
Carey Price- Early Second Round
Carey Price is a goaltender that always racks up a lot of wins. He also puts up decent numbers, so he is worth taking a chance on as a starter or as a No. 2 goaltender.
Ryan Miller- Mid Second Round
He is a former Vezina Trophy winner so Miller has the chance to steal the show every night. Will he perform in the clutch for a Buffalo Sabre team that underwent a remodel this offseason?
Jonas Hiller- Late Third Round
Jonas Hiller is going to be coming back symptom free from the Vertigo that ailed him this year. He is a solid goalie who puts up decent numbers and can serve as a good backup.
Jonathan Quick- Mid Third Round to Mid Fourth Round
Quick has earned the starting job in Los Angeles and has a good team behind him. With the new additions in Richards and Gagne, the Kings have added some additional scoring to give Quick goal support. Quick is a goalie that some may pick up to be their second starter
Jimmy Howard- Late Third to Late Fourth Round
Jimmy Howard comes in the later rounds because the jury is out on him. Some believe he is a solid number one goaltender who can have a dominant season and others are skeptical. Nonetheless, I attempt to pick up Jimmy Howard in the later rounds of my current fantasy draft.
Martin Broduer- Fourth to Fifth Round
Marty Brodeur is a goalie that can surprise you. He is arguably the best goalie I have seen during my lifetime. I don't doubt him the slightest and he has the potential to win 30 to 35 games. Marty is definitely a good goalie to have as a backup and has a good trade value.
Did I miss someone? Did you agree with my picks? If not, please leave a comment in the section below.
In regard to the mystery slide contest, for those readers who think you can you have what it takes, write a description for a goalie who you feel is early draft worthy and post it in the comments section.
To the reader that writes the most articulate and thought out description, it will be replaced in the slide currently marked Mystery slide.
You can choose a goalie that was named an honorable mention if you like or any other goalie not named in this slide.
The winner will be chosen based on my discretion and I will consider the number of likes the comment receives.
This site is for the readers, and I would love to hear your thoughts as it matters very much to me.
Tom Urtz is an NHL Featured Columnist.
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