Rinne

 

It can be difficult to find that goaltender who is going to produce big numbers without eating a big chunk of your cap space.  Generally, a goaltender who is firmly entrenched as a number one and can be counted on, year to year, for a solid GAA and SV%, is paid like one.  It's extremely important to find a balance between your first and second goaltender.  There are goalies out there who face different situations that create a more risky situation, but provide value as they tend to be paid as one.  Saving two to three million dollars on a goalie such as Kari Lehtonen, who carries baggage like a Hilton, is a big risk, but one that can pay off and be the difference between a competitive team and simply showing up.

 

Below is a list of some of the better bargains in the NHL.  Jump on them while you can as goalies aren't easy to come by and grabbing an under the radar goalie can pay large dividends in the future.

 

 

Pekka Rinne – The poster boy for bargain, Rinne excels in the defensive environment that is the Nashville Predators.  Much like the Pred's goalies before him, Rinne can be counted on each year for top production.  Arguable the best of the goalies Nashville has produced, Rinne will consistently be at the top of all the goalie categories.  Never weak in GAA and SV%, Rinne is also a perennial leader in the shutout department, averaging just over six for his career.  If Nashville can ever find the offence, Rinne immediately becomes one of the NHL's elite, if you dare to argue that he isn't already.

 

Cap Hit - $3,400,000/UFA 2012

Roto Strength – W/GAA/SV%/SO

 

Carey Price – Another one of the obvious, the 2011/12 season will be a big one in terms of the value Price will provide in the future to salary cap leagues.  As an RFA in 2012, Price's cap hit could potentially join the upper echelon of goalies.  Most likely to be worth whatever he is paid, his present day value is much higher based on his sub-$3 million dollar cap hit and the ability to play him as your number two goalie.  One of the few goalies almost guaranteed to start 70 games, Price will continue to stack up the wins.  His GAA won't be one of the best, but you can bet his SV% will be, much in part due to his game-stealing ability.  Price can be the first star on any given night, against any given team.  Look for his shutouts to once again be north of six, with the potential for ten.

 

Cap Hit - $2,750,000/RFA 2012

Roto Strength - W/SV%/SO

 

Jacob Markstrom – Even starting this year, Markstrom could be a great addition to a salary cap team as big time sleeper. Markstrom could be the starter in Florida by the end of the year.  Heck, he could unofficially be there by the quarter-mark.  At over 6'5, Markstrom has been heralded as one of the best up and comer's for years now.  It's all a matter of time before a much more consistent Steve Mason-esque season is in full production and it will pay to be a part of it.  Consider this Markstrom's breakout year, and Florida his team from then on out.  As a bonus, Markstrom's cap hit is bound to be fantastic for the next five years.  Go Panthers.

 

Cap Hit - $1,300,000/RFA 2013

Roto Strength – SV%

 

Jaroslav Halak – Not that Halak has done anything to warrant any positive attention ever since his post-playoff move to St. Louis, but the term on his cap-friendly salary adds value to Halak, who should be better than he has been.  With Brian Elliot playing much better hockey right now, Halak has his work cut out for him, but a competition has served him well in the past.  Halak is a great buy-low candidate and I think it's just a matter of time, he is only 26 after all.  St. Louis is a very young team and made some moves to bring some veteran leadership in Arnott, Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol.  Along with the team, Halak will grow into a productive goaltender, but expect roller-coaster type season(s) until that happens.

 

Cap Hit - $3,750,000/UFA 2014

Roto Strength – Lot's of starts will produce wins

 

 

Jonathan Quick – Luckkkkyyy!  THAT is what it is to be a Quick owner, and if it's in a cap league than add another 17 “y's” to the end of that.  Quick has taken the league by storm and surprised even the savviest of GM's with his, not only fantastic, but consistent production.  With super-prospect Jon Bernier now deemed as expendable, the future is bright for both LA and Quick.  A shutout streak that lasted just over three games saw Quick threaten Brian Boucher's five and a half game streak, but was cut short in a 5-3 win against the stars.  Currently the number one ranked goaltender in the game, Jon Quick is sitting pretty as LA's number one and that isn't likely to change.  Quick is hands-down the most value-based goalie to own in a cap league.

 

Cap Hit - $1,800,000/UFA 2013

Roto Strength – W/GAA/SV%/SO

 

Kari Lehtonen – How frustrating would it be, as a Jet's fan, to watch the success a now health-conscious Lehtonen is celebrating in Dallas.  It was only injuries due to poor conditioning that held Lehtonen back from reaching his potential in his early years, something Dallas was able to rectify almost immediately.  A much better commitment to conditioning must have been part of the deal when Lehtonen was signed as he received an “unearned” three-year term at over $3 million dollars.  That's a pretty big risk to take, but one that has paid off to this point.  Lehtonen has been able to show-case the talent that made him such a highly-touted prospect, but poolies continue to keep a wary eye on a situation that could go sour should Lehtonen return to his old ways.  As long as he stays focused, Lehtonen will stay healthy, and so will his production.  Look for continued improvement on his numbers as his consistent play will only make him better.  He's a big part of the recipe in Dallas and he will see a ton of playing time with perennial backup Andrew Raycroft his only competition for the short term.

 

Cap Hit - $3,550,000/UFA 2013

Roto Strength – W/SV%

 

Michael Neuvirth – A lot would have to happen in Washington this year for Neuvirth to have any more value than as a third option.  It would take one injury, though, to Tomas Vokoun for Neuvirth to seize the reins as Washington's number one.  With Brayden Holtby having played very solid hockey in both the AHL and in brief stints at the NHL level, there will be a legitimate threat to Neuvirth for the near future.  For those who can be patient, if Vokoun's “kindess of heart” move to join the Capitals at a majorly discounted price is only a one year thing, Neuvirth could instantly be one of the top keeper league goalies to own, as well as one year leagues.

 

Cap Hit - $1,150,000/RFA 2013

Roto Strength – W/SV%

 

Tomas Vokoun – I'd draft Jonathan Quick before Vokoun only because of his age and lack of risk.  Vokoun, at his age, is more of an injury risk and only has a few elite years left in him.  Vokoun hasn't ever been in elite status only due to the quality of team he's played for in the past.  This year is very different.  Joining the powerhouse Capitals at an incredibly friendly rate portrays Vokoun's commitment and desire to win.  Winning is what he'll do in Washington and this symbiotic match made in heaven could make for a big season, both for the team and Vokoun owner's alike.  Vokoun is the only real threat to Jon Quick's title as the best “bang for buck” goalie this year.

 

Cap Hit - $1,500,000/UFA 2012

Roto Strength – W/GAA/SV%/SO

 

James Reimer – Similar to Halak, a lot of Reimer's value comes in the form of his cheap, three-year deal.  While counting on Reimer as a second goalie isn't recommended, if you consider where you can draft him he makes a fantastic third option.  Capable of posting wins in bunches, Reimer will see a lot of rubber, and this isn't an x-rated movie.  Toronto is an improving team, has a self-proclaimed “top defence” and can score.  With a big rebound year from Phaneuf, it's not inconceivable that the hard working Reimer could post 30-wins and a SV% above .915.  That's quality from a late round pick.

 

Cap Hit - $1,800,000/RFA 2014

Roto Strength – W/SV%

 

Corey Crawford – Anyone who has watched Crawford knows that the talent is there.  As an added bonus he plays on  a team that is very defensively aware.  Playing behind two elite two-way players in Toews and Hossa, Crawford is in a perfect situation to succeed.  We know he can perform under pressure, as evidenced by his outstanding playoff performance in 2011, and Crawford is just entering his prime.  Expect a long tenure from him in Chicago, and three of those years will be at cap-friendly $2.5 million bucks.

 

Cap Hit - $2,666,667/UFA 2014

Roto Strength – W/GAA/SV%

 

Anti Niemi – I'm not the biggest Niemi fan, but it's hard to argue with history.  He's a winner and plays on a strong team who only improved in the off-season.  With the addition of Brent Burns, San Jose fins themselves with that special two-way defender who can minute-munch.  San Jose will once again challenge for the division title and could challenge for the President's trophy.  I'd take a chance on Ilya Bryzgalov if he played for San Jose (I yoke, I yoke – shot to you Bryz owner's), Niemi makes a great number two option, health is the only real concern.  Niemi is at the upper end of the “cheapies,” but it's the ability to draft him late and strong team that adds value.

 

Cap Hit - $3,800,000

Roto Strength – W/SV%/SO

 

Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings says it all.  The team that (arguably) made Chris Osgood a hall of fame candidate could very well do the same for Jimmy Howard.  Not generally mentioned in the same sentence as the top goaltender's in the league, his numbers can't be ignored.  Howard will never produce many shutouts, but you can count on wins by default and a solid SV% to boot.  Not my number one, but a fantastic second option.

 

Cap Hit - $2,250,000/UFA 2013

Roto Strength – W/SV%

 

Semyon Varlamov – When Varlamov was traded for a first and second round pick, the hockey world was taken aback at the risk Colorado was willing to take at the price they were willing to pay.  Generally though of as a bottom-dwelling team for the next year, Colorado has opened eyes and the play of Varlamov has been a big reason for the early success.  Where talent has never been a question, it's the injury concern that has been Varlamov's biggest issue.  With a healthy season and continued success, Varlamov and Colorado should remain on the radar as a viable fantasy option, though I could be singing a different tune come mid-season.  Expect poor stretches, but Varlamov's numbers at the end of the season should be better than first expected.  Great option as a goalie for the future.

 

Cap Hit - $2,833,000/RFA 2014

Roto Strength – SV%

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Tukka Rask – Only a matter of time

Craig Anderson – Too much up and down in Ottawa to have good numbers at the end of the season

Mike Smith – It's going to take a healthy season and more consistency for me to recommend him, but on the right track

Ondrej Pavelec – I hate headaches

 

 

 

 

 


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Comments (2)add comment

GarthButchers said:

mrgreer77
... I'm guessing Rinne saw this article and called his agent this morning...
November 03, 2011
Votes: +0

GMGates said:

GMGates
... Awesome report. Congrats Ryan!
November 03, 2011
Votes: +0
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