Fantasy Hockey – Goalie Watch
A team’s success both in fantasy hockey and on the ice weighs heavily on the netminder. Goaltending is usually a very important part of a fantasy hockey team. What usually accounts for two roster spots can sometimes be worth 40-50% of the categories in your pool. Hopefully you drafted at least a few good ones. If you didn’t, you’d better be sifting through the garbage for a hidden gem to help bring your team to the top.
There are a number of goalies in the NHL that you either already have in your line-up or they are on another team. Names like Rinne, Lundqvist, Fleury, Bryzgalov, Luongo and Price to name a few. The goalies we need to discuss are either on thin ice holding onto the #1 spot by a thread, or they are poised and ready to take over that job. Here are some things to keep an eye on.
In the Atlantic there’s not much going on except in Long Island. Brodeur, Lundqvist and Fleury have their jobs locked down. All three of them should definitely get 60+ starts barring injury. I would have to believe that Bryzgalov should do the same in Philly. He’s off to a great start with 3 wins and one SO already, a 1.67 GAA and a 940 SV%. For the Islanders there is much uncertainty. Nabokov, Dipietro and Montoya all could be expected to play games this year. I like Montoya, and thus far he has got the nod. In a keeper league Montoya could be a very good option for down the road. In a deeper pool with more than 10 teams he may be a great bench goalie option.
Price and Miller are both 70 game goalies. Craig Anderson is the better goalie in Ottawa. Alex Auld did get a start and was ripped apart already. Personally, because they play in Ottawa I would avoid having either on my roster if I could. James Reimer in Toronto is 2-0 with a S.O and should be the starter of at least 55-60 games over the monster. Gustavsson posted a terrible .890SV% and a 3.29 GAA last year. If Reimer can continue to pay the way he has he is a decent guy to have. That leaves us with the Bruins. Boston has, in my opinion, the best 1-2 punch in the league. Rask could steal the spotlight but I would bank on 50-30 with Thomas being #1. If I were Peter Chiarelli (Boston’s GM) I would want to show off Tim Thomas some more and then move him at high value before his contract is up. You should pick up Rask if he’s available in your pool, especially in a keeper situation.
In Carolina Cam Ward now has a dependable backup in Boucher. This could result in fewer games for Ward. Last year he played in a whopping 74 but I’m thinking 65-ish this season. Tampa is hoping Dwayne Roloson has the endurance to play plenty of games down the stretch but he is getting old. Garon could start around 25 to rest Roloson but he isn’t really a good fantasy option. In Winnipeg the starter is Pavelec but Chris Mason is no stranger to a #1 role. Either way the Jets are a weak team, making their keepers poor fantasy players. Pavelec in a deep pool to catch up in games could be a last resort. Jose Theodore is the best goalie in a Panthers uniform. If you need extra games played he may be available to you but don’t bank on too many wins. The most interesting situation in the Southeast has to be in Washington. Washington should be the top team in the conference, and definitely in their division. The starter here will rack up wins, and even the backup. Vokoun has started sloppily and Neuvirth is a good goalie. I wouldn’t leave Neuvirth on the FA if he was available in my pool. Remember that Vokoun only signed a one year deal as well.
Steve Mason doesn’t have much competition in Columbus but anything can happen. Curtis Sanford has played a few minutes already this year and Mark Dekanich played very well in the AHL last year and is worth keeping an eye on. Rinne and Crawford are sure bets in Nashville and the windy city. Halak is St. Louis’s #1 guy but questions of his endurance linger. I am keeping a close eye on Detroit’s situation. What should be a lock for Jimmy Howard is not due to a weak pre-season. He played well in the opener against Ottawa but finished poorly. Ty Conklin responded with a SO in the Wings next game making him a worthy starter for future games.
This division is not completely set in stone but it’s close. It’s hard to argue that Kipper, Backstrom and Luongo won’t star in most of the games for their teams. I would still suggest Cory Schneider as a good source of secondary wins, along with good stats all around. Lou has been shaky and Schneider could see as many as 25 games this year for the Canucks. Varlamov has looked stellar in an Av’s uniform and should be at the helm for the whole season. Devan Dubnyk is the lone sleeper in the division. He started game 1 for the Oilers and to me that’s an indication that Khabby will take the backup\mentor role this year. Dubnyk is a decent, well rounded goalie and he is young. Strongly consider him in a keeper or a deep league, especially if he continues to perform well. The Edmonton Oilers have a bright future ahead of them.
Last but not least is the Pacific Division. In Anaheim I should think Hiller will play around 60 games leaving Dan Ellis as a weak option unless Hiller gets hurt. Lehtonen is a lock and Dallas and so should be Niemi in San Jose. Niemi has been recovering from surgery but looks to be starting shortly at 100%. Some Question how solid the job is for Quick in L.A. Bernier has a bright future and has already played 1 game this year. He showed poorly but surely will get more chances to play. I’m thinking 50/30 in favour of Quick for the Kings this year. Bernier could be a decent bench pickup in a league with 10 or more teams. Finally the moment we’ve all been waiting for! McElhinney, LaBarbera or Smith? Yeah right like anyone cares. If you ask me it will be Labarbera in the end, but I have little faith in the Coyotes now that Bryzgalov is gone.