Welcome to part three of a three part series on top NHL players for a fantasy hockey keeper league.
There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a backstop for your keeper league team. These include:
- Past performance
- Future potential
- The team they play for
While a goalie like Tim Thomas, for instance, fulfills many of the criteria above, he would be a poor choice in a fantasy hockey keeper league.
Don't get me wrong, if you are lucky enough to have Thomas as your netminder in any fantasy hockey league this season he will help you enormously. However, given his age and the fact that he will likely split more and more time with Tuukka Rask going forward, if you do draft Thomas you would be well advised to handcuff him to Rask.
Starting at the top of the list, here are the NHL's top 10 goalies for a keeper league.
The King of New York
At age 29, Henrik Lundqvist is already entering his seventh NHL season. He is also the only goalie in NHL history to win 30 games in each of his first six seasons.
Apart from his rookie campaign, when he recorded 30 wins in just 53 games, King Henrik has never played less than 68 games and has won at least 35 games each season. Lundqvist also has 35 career regular season shutouts, with a career high 11 of them coming last year alone.
With a career regular season goals against average (GAA) ranging from 2.23 to 2.43 and a save percentage of .912 to .923, Lundqvist is the model of consistency.
Goaltending is the one position on which you cannot afford to gamble, and if past performance is an indicator of future performance, then King Henrik is a sure bet.
Until Roberto Luongo wins a Stanley Cup, the haters will not go away. As a regular season fantasy goalie however, Luongo is a monster.
Last season alone, Lou managed 38 wins in just 60 games and posted a career-best 2.11 GAA.
At age 32, the future is now for Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks and your fantasy hockey team.
From hero to zero and back to hero again, Carey Price is proof that Bob Gainey is a genius.
After being booed by fickle Habs fans in last year's pre-season, Price went on to win a league-leading 38 games with eight shutouts in 72 starts, and posted a career-best GAA (2.35) and save percentage (.923).
At only 24, Carey Price has proven he is the real deal.
Quite simply, Pekka Rinne is a very good goalie playing for an even better defensive hockey team.
Rinne is coming off a season of career highs in wins (33), GAA (2.12) and save percentage (.930).
At age 28, Rinne is just entering his prime as an NHL netminder.
Ilya Bryzgalov recorded a combined 78 regular season wins over his past two seasons playing in the desert for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Now in Philadelphia, Bryzgalov has a heavy contract playing in a big hockey market for a team with even bigger expectations to go deep into the playoffs.
The Flyers may have finally found the goaltender who can get the job done.
Ryan Miller has never had less than 30 wins over his last five seasons back-stopping the frugal Buffalo Sabres.
With a new deep-pocketed owner in town, the Sabres should be stronger than ever, and so will their fans' expectations.
You can expect a re-energized Miller to be up to the task.
Over the past three NHL regular seasons, former first-overall draft pick Marc-Andre Fleury has recorded 35, 37 and 36 wins respectively for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
At only 26 years of age, Fleury is just entering his prime and should continue to be a solid performer for years to come.
At just 25 years old, Jonathan Quick is clearly the number one netminder for the high-powered Los Angeles Kings.
However, coming off of a 35-win regular season in just 61 games, Quick will have to share the spotlight and continue to fend off top prospect Jonathan Bernier.
If you pick Quick in your fantasy pool, you would be wise to take a flier on Bernier as well. The healthy competition between these two top-rated goalies will be fierce and will help propel the Kings and your fantasy team towards the top of the standings.
Antti Niemi became the first Finnish goaltender to win a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009-2010 NHL season. The Hawks rewarded him by walking away from his arbitration negotiations that summer.
Now as a member of the San Jose Sharks, the team many pundits have been picking to win the Cup for years, Niemi has a chance to prove his worth.
I'm going to take some heat for selecting Corey Crawford for the last spot on this list ahead of other, more experienced NHL goalies such as Cam Ward or Jaroslav Halak. However, my gut is telling me that Crawford is not going to be a one-year wonder.
After having been virtually handed the keys by Marty Turco to the high-performance sports car that is the Chicago Blackhawks, Crawford not only grabbed the wheel, he sped off and didn't look back.
Crawford won 33 games in just 57 played and posted a GAA of 2.30 with a save percentage of .917 in his rookie season. After having toiled in the minor leagues for years, you can expect Crawford to handle the increased workload and post even better numbers going forward.
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