Fantasy hockey goalie preview

It can’t be stressed enough: in just about any fantasy league where goalie stats carry a decent amount of weight, position isn’t something to be negotiated lightly. For example, ESPN’s standard game — one that penalizes wins, saves, shutouts, and goals allowed — honors quality netminding like never before. To go back to my time-tested example, a keeper who stops 28 shots out of 30 in a 4-2 win gives you as a manager a valuable haul of 5.6 fantasy points. Conversely, allowing five goals on 31 shots in a 5-4 loss results in a -4.8-point fantasy net. A whopper of a pendulum swing, right?

In the usual summary, ESPN’s ideal fantasy goalie plays/wins most games while conceding few goals on a good number of shots. The odd shutout is a much appreciated bonus. If you manage to design these top-notch characters for launch and/or carefully make the right adjustments throughout the season, you should stay in the competition until the end of the campaign. When icing a line-up, an otherwise strong sporting weakness between the whistles is almost a guarantee for an unsuccessful run.

strategy

This year, as usual, I’m picking my #1 fantasy netminder early in the standard ESPN leagues. Depending on how the draft goes first, maybe Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy or New York’s Igor Shesterkin, if either is not spoken for later in the first round (otherwise see images below), then it secures my #2 pick not long after .

Aside from nailing my one-two as a goalkeeper, I’m more willing to fill my netminding outfit with an underrated middle-class asset and/or high sleeper, perhaps a strong member of a recognized tandem. These candidates can (I mean, preferably not, but…) fall flat without destroying a fantasy squad, knowing that a handful of under-radar candidates usually show up as prized plug-in merchandise mid-season . But including my G1 and G2 early in designs remains a priority.

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First class goalkeepers that I like

Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames (Goaltender #4)

Only Shesterkin racked up more fantasy points throughout 2021-22 in ESPN’s standard game, eventually driving away in the Vezina. Keep in mind that the league’s shutout leader in Calgary was also officially, albeit more quietly, fighting to be named the best between the whistle. Despite all the drama and shuffling negotiated by GM Brad Treliving over the summer, including winning two-way center Nazem Kadri, assists machine Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, the Flames appear in just as good Form as at the time Markstrom ripped off his best career season yet.

Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators (Goaltender #5)

No one started more competitions in 2021/22 than the No. 1 Predators, who finished fourth in overall fantasy points with 207.8. Not too shabby considering this was Pekka Rinne’s former understudy’s first run of 40-plus games in the regular season. It’s definitely durable enough. Saros might even have won the Vezina if it hadn’t been for the surging dollar in the Big Apple. Plus, Nashville’s blue line is now even better – more confident – with ex-Lightning Ryan McDonagh on board.

See also: Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes (No. 11 overall)

Mid-range goalkeeper to aim

Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild (Goaltender #25)

I’m a bit confused by this ranking, as the Vezina winner, two years away, stands as the undisputed No. 1 for a more-than-appropriate Wild team that he’s lost just two of 11 regular-season games for last spring. Especially after giving a not-so-good Blackhawks roster a fighting chance more nights than not before the pre-deadline deal sent him to Minnesota. General Manager Bill Guerin and Co. would not have signed Fleury for a two-year extension, and sent a very competent Cam Talbot to Ottawa, not believing the 37-year-old Clydesdale could make his way through this regular campaign and beyond. So why should we be so skeptical? The multi-ringed Stanley Cup champion is easily a top 15 fantasy netminder in my books.

Cam Talbot, Ottawa Senators (Goaltender #19)

Regarding Minnesota’s new goalie draft, after offering Fleury their final rose over the summer, the Wild quickly returned to their promise Not Get Talbot to absolutely sell him to the senators. I don’t know about you, but I would feel particularly inspired to let my ex do it in circumstances like this, anger/contempt and all that vengeful jazz. The 35-year-old, who has had a rollercoaster career since his Rangers debut nine years ago (2018-19 in Edmonton/Philadlephia wasn’t good), has been encouraging enough averaging 0.914 SV% over the last three campaigns . and 2.69 GAA split between Calgary and Minny. The veteran’s win record of 63-30-10 at this distance is impressive in itself. Knowing that the spirited Senators are more competitive overall with the likes of Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux on board, I’m keen on Talbot as the No. 2 fantasy netminder in the lower leagues.

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See also: Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets (Goaltender #20)


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key sleeper

Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado Avalanche (Goaltender #26)

If Georgiev doesn’t get along with the crème de la crème of the Western Conference, like Darcy Kuemper and Philipp Grubauer did before him, it’s the fault of the former Rangers goalkeeper. Being the goaltender for the reigning Stanley Cup Champ is a dream job. After playing part-time for five seasons in New York and providing glimpses of the elite game in the past, it’s now up to the 26-year-old to force his way to the starting line to outmaneuver Pavel Francouz as Colorado’s consistent top pick. The baton is his to run when the green flag waves. Worth considering as a No. 2 in lower leagues, I admire Georgiev as a No. 3 fantasy netminder in shallower competitions.


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Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights (Goaltender #31)

If anyone gets a chance to dash away with the Vegas starting job now that Robin Lehner is out for the season, what I like most is Thompson’s chances of nailing that contract. The rookie put in an admirable performance when he was called on to provide injury relief to Lehner and Laurent Brossoit in 2021-22, posting a 10-5-3 record, 2.68 GAA and 0.914 SV%. It’s worth noting that the 25-year-old’s numbers were significantly better than Brossoit, who underwent off-season surgery. (Adin Hill fills the third-deep slot through trading and appears to act as an insurance policy prematurely when things go horribly wrong.) Also encouraging is new coach Bruce Cassidy’s vocal commitment to transforming Vegas into a defensive juggernaut, a club that more than rich enough is blue line talent. If Thompson’s lack of experience is the biggest problem, remember we all have to start somewhere.

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Late-round picks to consider

Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers (Goaltender #39)

The 24-year-old is a good young goalkeeper who happens to play for a not very good team. But perhaps, having shaken off a few key injuries, the Flyers will exceed our premature, fairly low expectations. Perhaps former Hurricane Tony DeAngelo will help salvage the league’s worst power play (12.6%), which could lead to a few more wins. Perhaps new coach John Tortorella will discover the magic formula to make Philadelphia good enough again. We will see. The fact that Hart is still in fantasy black (Not a season-long commitment) with a team that has won all 25 games suggests he’s worth a dice roll in later rounds when/where there’s little to lose.

See also: Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings (goaltender #44); Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (Goaltender #52)

Avoid drafts at the time value

Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (Goaltender #12)

The Blues goalkeeper was undeniably solid last October. He then went on to win a string of games in April before enduring an admittedly impressive, albeit short, six-contest postseason. But the larger sandwich filling of 2021-22 was far less impressive. Binnington hasn’t been great or better than mediocre overall the previous season either since helping the Blues win the trophy in 2019. I don’t trust him. In fact, it might instead be worth keeping an eye on how Thomas Greiss – on a one-year deal – is faring as St. Louis’ new backup after a particularly challenging season in Detroit.

See also: John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks (No. 14 goaltender), Matt Murray, Toronto Maple Leafs (No. 16 goaltender)

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