Monday, September 7, 2009

The CLS Fantasy Hockey Guide Part 2: Goalies

Please note: These are based on general categories and aren't by any means scientific. They're also subject to change

Fantasy Goalies
Quick note: The value of a goalie will depend largely on how many goalie categories there are. If goalie categories are close to half of your league stats, it's almost impossible to reach. At the same time, there isn't much that differentiates good goalies from mediocre goalies once you get past the elites.


1. Roberto Luongo
Arguably the most talented goalie in the league, Luongo is in his prime. He doesn't face ANY threat from his backup, so if he stays healthy (which is a slight worry) he could see 65-70 GP.

2. Martin Brodeur
His injury plagued 2009-10 season sincerely worries me. That being said, it's rare to find a goalie as consistent who can bring you quantity in starts as well as quantity in stats.

3. Henrik Lundqvist
King Hank is a rock in net, but I don't like the changes the Rangers have made to their team. He's still one of those guys who's worth an early pick, for sure.

4. Tim Thomas
It looks like Tim Thomas will finally get his due as an elite goaltender this year. After a dominant Vezina season, Thomas is truly entrenched in Boston.

5. Miikka Kiprusoff
Kipper's gotten some heat over the years and with good reason: he might bring quantity but the quality hasn't always been there. However, with his workload (and therefore, win opportunities) and a defense that now includes Jay Bouwmeester, Kipper could be good enough to be the #1 fantasy goalie this season.

6. Evgeni Nabokov
While I think Nabby is an overrated goalie in reality, he still plays for one of the best teams in the league and should see a ton of GP. Don't forget that he's in a contract year, either.

7. Niklas Backstrom
With a $6 million cap hit, Backstrom has to be the guy in Minnesota. For years I've hesitated to draft a Minnesota goalie because they haven't had a clear starter. Even though Josh Harding is a damn good goalie, Backstrom should see big GP and should still play behind a good D even with Jacques Lemaire in NJ.

Solid workhorse guys

8. Ryan Miller
The jury seems to be out on Miller, but I think he's a true franchise goalie. As Miller goes, so does Buffalo. He's a talented goalie in a bad division. That's a solid recipe for success.

9. Cam Ward
Ward's career is on a steady climb. He tends to put up some nice numbers. I'm not crazy about their defense, though.

10. Steve Mason
It won't be a simple "sophomore slump" if Mason declines because his numbers are fudged a bit by an unrealistically quick start. I would feel pretty good about selecting a guy who's a clear No. 1 in Ken Hitchock's excellent defensive system.

11. Marc-Andre Fleury
He's had major injuries two years in a row. Some of the goals he allows are just maddening. Yet, if he plays a full season he could threaten the 40 win mark. And he has Gary Busey teeth. Not bad.

Risky but interesting

12. Marty Turco
Turco is, admittedly, a pretty big risk considering how awful his 2008-09 season was. That being said, he's playing behind a Stars team with stunning forward depth and even with an improved backup (Alex Auld) he has every opportunity to have a stellar contract year.

13. Cristobal Huet
I don't like Huet, personally, but he's in a great situation in Chicago. The team has great offensive and defensive depth and talent, which could very well improve substantially next season. If Huet sucks next year, he cannot blame anyone but himself.

14. Jonas Hiller
Hiller wowed the hockey world last year by usurping Giguere and leading the Ducks to a shocking opening series win over the San Jose Sharks, but there are some worries too. He's only done it for one season. He's losing vaunted goalie coach Francois Allaire. Giguere could get the starting job back. The Ducks sacrificed a two-headed defensive monster by trading Pronger and are now a team that should be far more offensive minded.

Yet, all that being said, it's hard not to like Jonas Hiller.

15. Ray Emery
Few players will see the wild range in rankings as much as Ray Emery. The crazy bug eater was booted out of goalie-poor Ottawa for reasons we may never fully understand and no NHL team was willing to gamble on him that summer. That being said, Emery has shown flashes of brilliance and will play on a loaded Flyers team which features (in my opinion) the best trio of defensemen in the Eastern Conference. Not bad for a guy who had to play in Russia last season.

16. Chris Osgood
As Osgood loves to remind everyone in his smarmy way, he often hits the Snooze Button during the regular season. Without a decent backup since Ty Conklin left for St. Louis, perhaps Osgood can take advantage of his ridiculously loaded team and with 30-plus by default.

17. Pekka Rinne
While Steve Mason received all the Calder trophy hype, Rinne generated a nearly identical campaign in Nashville. The problem is that Rinne is on a weak team in a division that keeps getting tougher (and let's not forget the seemingly annual tradition of a Predators backup usurping the starter).

The Granny Panties Division
aka not-so-sexy goalies

18. Tomas Vokoun
Mired in Nashville/Florida obscurity, Vokoun has quietly been a top-1o goalie for years now. Yet aside from sheer saves and save percentage, Vokoun isn't placed in a great situation to put up good numbers this year. That doesn't mean he's an all-around bad choice, though, especially as a second goalie. If only he could play on a decent team for once ...

19. Chris Mason
Steady but unspectacular, Mason helped the Blues make the playoffs before they seemed ready last season. You have to worry if he's a true starter with Ty Conklin in town, but he's an OK pick as long as you don't reach for him.


20. Jon Quick
The Kings play a nice defensive system and Quick seems to have a semi-strong hold on the starting job. Still, meh.

21. Ilya Bryzgalov
Solid goalie in a terrible nightmare of a situation. Stay away from any Phoenix Coyotes not named Shane Doan.

22. Kari Lehtonen
We're officially getting into the "do you really want this guy?" area of the goalie ranks. While Lehtonen is a genuine talent, he is a legitimate injury concern and plays on a consistently inferior Thrashers team. Meh.

23. Nikolai Khabibulin
It's pretty clear to me that the Bulin Wall is only built in contract years. Of course, at his age, it's understandable if the bricks start to fall.

The "Check Back Laters"
unranked for a reason

Mike Smith
Is he healthy?

Simeon Varlamov (and, I guess, Jose Theodore)
Is it wrong to wonder if Varlamov is ready for a full-time goalie job? Is it wrong to wonder if Theodore had a two-year deal with the devil when he won the Hart trophy?

Carey Price/Jaroslav Halak
Price could be a semi-decent pick, but many believe that Halak is the better goalie. Or at least deserves a near-even split. I wouldn't want to invest in that mess in Montreal, either way.

Vesa Toskala/Jonas "The Monster" Gustavson
This actually could be a slightly underrated pairing. The Leafs loaded up on defense this off-season and also acquired goaltending guru Francois Allaire. Don't be surprised if the Toronto starter ends up being a solid mid-season pickup.

Dwayne Roloson/Martin Biron
These guys are not much better than 1Bs in the league and they're playing on a team that is probably satisfied with watching John Tavares (and, later, some lottery balls) this season. Stay away.

Craig Anderson/Peter Budaj
Anderson's a solid goalie, but the Avalanche suffer from a severe lack of talent. Don't do it.

Pascal Leclaire/Brian Elliot
Is it even worth having one of these guys as your third goalie? My instinct is to say "no," unless Ottawa finds a way to translate the awkward Heatley energy into wins.

Clear Backups worth a gander (or FA pickup later on)

Ty Conklin
Will probably go too quickly to be a sleeper pick.

Scott Clemmensen
Not sold on him overall, but he could get some starts.

Josh Harding
One of the best backups in the NHL

Alex Auld
Probably not worth drafting, but keep an eye on him if Turco falters.

Dan Ellis
Another decent backup, though his fantasy value is questionable.

Brent Johnson
Could be worth a pickup in free agency since MAF's injury is a perennial occurrence.

Brian Boucher
If Emery's bug eating tendencies cause problems, Boucher could play behind the Pronger-Timonen-Coburn trio.

Manny Fernandez
If a team signs him, Fernandez could still have a little juice left.

Manny Legace
There are worse goalies out there.

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