The goalie position
continues to be the hardest by far to predict with certainty. I can only recommend two names to be sure
winners worthy of a first round pick.
After that, you have a collections of very good options that are almost
interchangeable parts. Because of that,
if you miss out on Lundqvist or Rask, I recommend waiting until the goalie run
is over and picking the 8th or 9th goalie off the board, as there shouldn't be
much drop off from the 3rd best option.
1. Henrik Lundqvist
While he fell just
shy of another Vezina nod last season, you simply cannot get more in terms of
reliability than Hank. I suspect that the coaching change will have an overall
positive effect on his fantasy numbers. He should see significantly more shots
this season, which means more saves. And the shots that Torts dictated be
blocked out front tended to be the easier saves for a goalie. Logically, you
should see a higher save percentage, more saves, and overall total domination
for Lundqvist as this year's top goalie pick.
2. Tuukka Rask
If anyone can
challenge Lundqvist for the top spot on the goalie list, it's Rask. He had to
wait patiently for his opportunity as Boston's #1, but has proven to be worth
the wait. His dominance in the regular season even carried through the
playoffs. With Boston promising to be one of the most dominant teams this
season, he is assured of large helping of Wins. Expect 40, perhaps even 50.
Can't go wrong with Rask.
3. Sergei Bobrovsky
After a revelation
of a season, all eyes will be on Bobrovsky to see if he can repeat the magic.
The Jackets are clearly on rise and will rely on Sergei to keep them moving
that way. There is no reason to doubt he will be a solid contributor once again
fantasy wise, but expecting another Vezina may be overshooting. He is certainly
a safe #1 option in net.
4. Jimmy Howard
Howard has been a
reliable fantasy option for four years now. He stepped it up a notch last
season, arguably carrying them into the playoffs. The Wings have committing to
him for the long haul, so he won't have contract issues on his mind. Detroit's
young defensive crew is coming together nicely and ought to provide enough
support for Howard to make it 5 straight seasons as a solid fantasy keeper.
5. Jonathan Quick
Simply put, Quick
tanked last season. He showed no signs of the man who dominated the position
for the prior two years. That changed in the playoffs, as he returned to form
and carried the team for 2 rounds. That run brings hope to fantasy owners
looking for a top notch goalie that may be underrated at this year's draft. He
didn't even crack the top 20 in fantasy points by the end of last season. Look
for a rapid return to the top 5 this year.
6. Corey Crawford
If it's wins that
you crave, consider holding out for Crawford as your #1 in net. The Hawks will
surely deliver plenty in the W column again in 2013-14, and this time, assuming
he stays healthy, Crawford won't have to share the net with Emery. Khabibulin
will fill in only when Crawford needs a breather. His numbers last year were
among the best in the league. He just needs more starts to rank with the elite.
7. Antti Niemi
According to my
charts, Antti Niemi provided more fantasy points than any other player in the
league. (I'll pause while you absorb that thought). (thought you might need
more time...) Much of this came in the first 3 weeks of the season when San
Jose seemingly couldn't lose a game. He finished the season strong as well,
piling up 24 wins in 43 games. While I don't expect the Sharks to be as good
this time around, he is the undisputed #1 in net for San Jose. He will again
get his fair share of wins and will remain a viable #1 option. Just don't
expect a repeat as the top fantasy man.
8. Craig Anderson
Anderson was the best goalie in the league last season, by far. His 1.69 GAA
and .941 save percentage were silly good. He just needed to stay healthy a
little longer. He didn't show a sign of weakness all season until the 2nd round
of the playoffs, where the Pens made him look human. A full season in good
health will show whether or not he is for real as a #1 option.
9. Pekka Rinne
Rinne, along with
the entire Nashville team, took a big step backwards last season. Maybe they
missed Suter that much. Despite the slip, Rinne remains the epitome of the word
"workhorse". He will continue to own the pipes for 85% of the action in
Nashville, which means wins should continue to pile up. Look for a bounce back
in other categories, with a Preds team that just has to be better this season.
10. Marc-Andre Fleury
You'll need to focus
hard, but try and forget what happened in last year's playoffs. And the
playoffs the year before that. Focus. In the regular season (which is what we
care about in fantasy town), Fleury has been a very good option. The Pens (for
some unknown reason) insist on standing behind him as their #1, despite having
a far more stable option in Vokoun at the ready. As long as that vote of
confidence remains from the man behind the bench, Fleury will carry significant
fantasy value. The Pens promise to rack up the wins again this year, and the
Flower is the default option to gather those Ws. Because of his post-season
struggles, you will probably see Fleury slide deep come draft time, making him
a potential sleeper win.
To see the rest of
my top 50 goalie rankings, visit: http://www.landsharkhockey.com/LS/tools/DraftRankings.aspx. You can also customize your own list there.