The best draft-eligible goaltender - what is his fantasy value?
When the 2013 NHL Draft kicks off at the Prudential Center in New Jersey this June, chances are the first goalie to hear his name called will be Zach Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads.
NHL Central Scouting Services has Fucale ranked as the top North American goalie and many experts predicting he’ll be selected somewhere in the late first round.
Outstanding season in Halifax
While a lot of attention has been paid attention to the team in front of him, Fucale put together a solid season that showed he was an integral part of the Halifax Mooseheads success. In 55 games, he posted a 45-5-2 record. He also finished with a 0.909 save percentage, 2.35 goals against average and two shutouts.
In the playoffs he compiled 16 wins and one loss as he backstopped the Mooseheads to the President Cup. His goals against average dipped to 2.02 while his save percentage increased to 0.918. In the second round, he shutout Gatineau in games one and two and also posted a shutout in the final versus Baie-Comeau. The shutout in the final earned him a fur coat, the “award” given to the MVP of the game as voted by the Mooseheads players. In the five game final, Fucale had an average of 33.2 saves including a 43 save effort in game four.
Having top draft eligible prospects Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon along with Red Wing prospect Martin Frk certainly made wins easier to come by, but Fucale showed the same level of mental toughness and poise all season. Last season he may have looked flashier or made more saves as he was facing more shots every game. This season he learned how to stay focused when games weren’t as close or the shot clock wasn’t running as high. The 6-1 and 176 pound goalie may not make the big flashy, he makes important saves by relying on sound positioning.
But will he ever be on your fantasy team?
In a rookie-only draft, you certainly won’t be blowing an early pick on Fucale unless you have incredible patience. A look at the top three North American goalies and top three European goalies as ranked by NHL Central Scouting Services from 2005-2010 shows just how long it takes for a top ranked goalie to make it to the NHL if they even do make it.
North America: Carey Price, Peier-Olivier Pelletier, Tyler Planet
Europe: Tuuka Rask, Ondrej Pavelec, Jakub Lev
North America: Jonathan Bernier, Leland Irving, Jeff Zatkoff
Europe: Jhonas Enroth, Semyon Varlamov, Reto Berra
North America: Jeremy Smith, Trevor Cann, Antoine Lafleur
Europe: Joel Gistedt, Mark Owuya, Marek Benda
North America: Thomas McCollum, Chet Pickard, Peter Delmas
Europe: Jacob Markstrom, Harri Sateri, Anders Lindback
North America: Matthew Hackett, Olivier Roy, Edward Pasquale
Europe: Robin Lehner, Mikko Koskinen, Juraj Holy
North America: Calvin Pickard, Jack Campbell, Kent Simpson
Europe: Sami Aittokallio, Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel, Benjamin Conz
Goalies such as 2006 top ranked goalies Jonathan Bernier, Leland Irving and Jhonas Enroth are in the NHL but stuck in backup roles. Nobody from the top ranked goalies in 2007 are even fantasy relevant. A look at the 2008 draft class, Jacob Markstrom (31st) and Jake Allen (34) were both drafted early in the second round. This season saw them start games this season because of injuries to starters. 2009 top ranked European goalie Robin Lehner also found himself starting games for the Ottawa Senators because of injuries. And then you have goalies that seem to come out of nowhere like Henrik Lundqvist, a Vezina winner who wasn’t selected until the 7th round of the 2000 draft.
Accurately projecting when a goalie will start at the NHL level is next to impossible to predict. Many factors including franchise goalie depth, development, opportunity and injuries come into play when determining if a goalie is indeed worth rostering on your fantasy squad. If you draft Fucale, prepare to wait years and years before your investment pays off. He certainly has the ability to be an NHL starting goalie, but you’ll need a crystal ball to figure out exactly what will happen.
Previously from Briggins:
The 2013 DobberHockey Prospects Report will be released on June 1st. More information on all of the above players (as well as hundreds of other prospects you need to know about) will be in there. And for only $2.50 more, pick up the 2013 DobberHockey Keeper League Pack, which includes the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide and the 2013-14 Draft List.