Price

 

I have a few general rules when it comes to building a team in a fantasy hockey keeper league. One of the more important ones is to not plan beyond a two or three year window. You are not building a real NHL club, and too often fantasy hockey poolies place an emphasis on youth and prospects over proven veterans with gas still left in the tank. So using my general rule, take a look at your team(s). Can you realistically say you will have a shot at winning the league at some point within the next two or three seasons? If not, time to scrap the rebuild and start adding proven NHL talent.

 

Keeping my rule in mind, I have compiled a list of the top 10 keeper league goalies to own (assuming standard keeper league rules and scoring categories). Using the two or three season scope, I had to balance proven production with young goaltenders on the verge of breaking out. I hope you enjoy!

 

The goaltending position is far and away the toughest to predict in terms of development, which is why this list has more veterans than any of my other previous lists. It is too risky to rely on a young goalie compared to a young forward or defenseman. Additionally, many goalies can play at an elite level well into their late 30’s and early 40’s, unlike most forwards and defensemen. How the list works – since it is “in order,” my point is that I wouldn’t trade the second ranked goalie for the third ranked goalie in a standard, non-salary cap keeper league pool.

 

I also included where each of my picks ranks on Dobber’s Top 75 Goalies list. Don’t forget that his list accounts for playoff wins and trade carry-overs. Read his full criteria by clicking the link above. The list below drops off after the top six. There were a number of contenders for the final four positions, and those that didn’t make the cut get a mention at the bottom. The second tier of goalies (those from seven to 10, the honorable mentions, and a handful of others) is quite large.

 

My draft recommendation would be to grab one of the top six goalies, and then target one or two you like in the second tier, but don’t draft them early. Even if there is a crazy run on goaltenders, they seem to be enough surprises and dark horses (Sergei Bobrovsky, for example) each season to cover for leaving a draft with only one legitimate starting goaltender.

 

2010 Top 10 Keeper League Goaltenders

 

1. Henrik Lundqvist


The 29-year-old superstar had a career season in 2010-11. His 11 shutouts was the best mark of his career, and almost triple his 2009-10 total. He played 68 games, his lowest number since 2005-06. Lundqvist hasn’t won less than 35 games in any season since 2005-06, either. Simply put, he delivers elite stats on a very consistent basis. Elite + consistent is a winning combination in the fantasy hockey world. The Brad Richards signing may give him a few extra wins too, as he still lost his share of low scoring one-goal games. My only worry with Lundqvist is regarding the youth of New York’s defense. Ryan McDonagh and Tim Erixon will likely both become very good top four defensemen, but are they there yet?

 

Age: 29

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 3

2010 Ranking: 2


2. Carey Price


Price walked in extremely tough situation in Montreal at the beginning of last season. The Habs had traded playoff hero and fan favorite Jaroslav Halak away, putting their trust in Price. The two sides then proceeded to undergo a long and drawn out contract negotiation. One or two slip ups from Price early in the season, and things would have gotten ugly in Montreal. Price was rock solid from October through April, making big saves and quickly emerging as the franchise player for the Canadiens. Like Lundqvist, he will play a lot of games (count on 68-72 starts each season). As many other teams shift towards the tandem in goal, the thoroughbred goalies that play a lot (Price, Lundqvist) will see their fantasy value increase.


Age: 23

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 1

2010 Ranking: 10


3. Roberto Luongo


Last year’s number one slips a few spots on the list. Luongo had a very good regular season playing behind the league’s best offense and the league’s best defense. He was the third Vezina nominee, beating out the likes of Price and Bryzgalov. His postseason run was full of highs (game five against San Jose, games one and five against Boston), and lows (multiple blowout losses against both Chicago and Boston). He’s become somewhat of a polarizing figure in Vancouver, but don’t let it affect how you value him in fantasy pools. Cory Schneider, at least this season, will probably steal a few more starts (25-30). Luongo is still in his prime and is an elite goaltender on a fantastic team.

 

Age: 32

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 4

2010 Ranking: 1


4. Ryan Miller


Miller must have been one of the happiest goalies in the league after seeing his team go out Ehrhoff and Regehr to the defensive group. Regehr, in particular, is still a very sound and physical defensive defenseman. Ehrhoff isn’t great in his own zone, but he supplies a lot of offense and transitional play, which equates to more wins and less time in the defensive zone. Miller will give way to Jhonas Enroth a lot more than he did with Patrick Lalime, but he should still see at least 65 starts next season. Miller has a career high in shutouts of five, a mark that will likely be improved upon with a better defensive group in front of him.

 

Age: 31

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 7

2010 Ranking: 3


5. Pekka Rinne


Rinne was far and away the best goaltender in the Western Conference last season. He’s big, incredibly agile, and possesses the best glove in the league. The Predators play a defensive system that helps him out at times, but they don’t also score a heck of a lot. With Shea Weber’s future a bit clouded, Rinne’s fantasy value is as well. Weber is a huge part of the team and he himself has a fairly large impact on Rinne’s game (as all top defensemen do on their respective goaltenders). There have been few NHL goaltenders more consistently elite than Rinne has been over the past three seasons.


Age: 28

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 9

2010 Ranking: NR


6. Ilya Bryzgalov


Ilya Bryzgalov saw many of his numbers drop a bit last year in Phoenix (the loss of Zbynek Michalek was a big part of it). He was still among the best in the league, and a move to Philadelphia will keep him in the upper echelon of fantasy ‘tenders. The Flyers are one of the best teams in the league (on paper, at least), and they made a huge financial commitment to Bryzgalov for the near future. He’ll be the guy they build around, and because of that he will likely be ranked among the best in the league in every significant stat recorded in the typical fantasy hockey pool.


Age: 31

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 2

2010 Ranking: 9


7. Jonathan Quick


Last summer, many Quick owners were worried about the potential of Jonathan Bernier stealing his starting spot with the Kings. Quick had a great 2009-10 season but ran out of gas in the playoffs. That season, Quick played 72 games, almost 30 more than the previous season. The Kings recognized their mistake and gave him a few more nights off last season (he finished with 61 games played). Bernier is a talented prospect, but Quick has a stranglehold on the number one gig. He’s still young and hasn’t reached his peak yet. The Kings improved this summer more than any other club (assuming Drew Doughty re-signs), and Quick will benefit from a better supporting cast in front of him.

 

Age: 25

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 10

2010 Ranking: NR


8. Cam Ward


After winning the cup as a rookie back in 2006, Ward has quietly cemented himself as one of the better goalies in the league. He recorded a career best 0.923 save percentage last year, playing behind a young Carolina squad. The Hurricanes upgraded from Joe Corvo to Tomas Kaberle, and the rest of the defense should largely be the same. Up front, Erik Cole left to Montreal, but the team is looking for big things from sophomore Jeff Skinner and rookie Zac Dalpe. Ward will be backed up by Brian Boucher, who will provide solid play in spot duty as he has in the past.

 

Age: 27

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 16

2010 Ranking: NR


9. Marc-Andre Fleury


Before last summer, Fleury was an overrated fantasy goalie. He won games and played for a very good team, but he seemed to struggle with consistency and his peripheral numbers reflected it. The Penguins surprised many by going out and improving an already strong defensive group with two huge signings – Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin. The moved paid off. Led by Fleury, the Penguins were a stifling group all season (as indicated by a career best 2.32 GAA). Like Miller, Fleury won’t get you a ton of shutouts. He has only 19 in his seven season NHL career.

 

Age: 26

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 6

2010 Ranking: NR


10. Tim Thomas


Tim Thomas is far and away the oldest goalie on his list, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave him off. With a three-year window to win, Thomas gives you the best chance of dominating your pool of any remaining goaltender. Last summer, he was considered chopped liver and Tuukka Rask was the next big ticket in Beantown. Thomas went out and turned in the most dominant season from a goaltender since Dominik Hasek in the late 1990’s. The Bruins have arguably the brightest future out of any team in the league, and Thomas will be a huge part of any short term success they have.

 

Age: 37

DobberHockey Keeper Ranking: 5

2010 Ranking: NR


Honorable Mentions (in no order):

 

Jaroslav Halak – first season as the legitimate starting goalie was full of ups and downs. Will likely be back on this list with a strong season.

 

Tuukka Rask – fantastic young goalie playing behind the best goalie on the planet right now.

 

Martin Brodeur – father time has caught up with Marty.

 

Tomas Vokoun – interested to see how he does on a contending team. Very skilled, but future isn’t rock solid.

 

Miikka Kiprusoff – Calgary struggled to do much last season, and lost a huge part of their defense.

 

Jonas Hiller – If his health wasn’t an issue, he’d likely be on the list.

 

 


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Comments (17)add comment

Craig K said:

csk_17
... I have to disagree with your arguments on Luongo, James. As was said, all goalies have some flaws and you're pointing out flaws on him at the expense of his talents. He is one the most positionally and technically sound goalies of his generation. No, he was never known for his reflexes, his improvisation or his scramble ability (could explain his weak glove, and trouble absorbing high pucks), but your argument he's not elite holds no weight. If you want to point out very specific things about him, point out the good and bad. There is a LOT of good about him, even more with Rollie coaching him now.

If you want to even approach the argument that he's not elite, the only place you can start and end is in his head, like Angus said. Saying a poor offensive team like NAS used a game plan of 'shoot pucks at him from all angles' is inane. So you're telling me that Trotz recognized that his team (which had trouble scoring at the best of times), would struggle against an elite goalie and elite D, so he told them to put pucks on net at every chance they got? Doesn't really scream "Lou's not elite", more like "This team's better than us, so we're gonna have to get a lucky one. The way to do that is throw pucks at the net" (I realize it was CBC that kept bringing this up during the playoffs over and over - don't worry, I complained about it then too).

Finally, we all saw Luongo fall apart a few times during the playoffs, but he also had some amazing games that he stole (finals included). All goalies struggle once in awhile, as do the defenses in front of them. For another example of such struggle, look at Thomas' ECF stats against the Lightning. He was lit up in more than one of those games and looked horrible. He also stole some games, and had a SO in gm 7 (15 GA's in the losses, another 5 GA game in a win, 2 SO's and a 1 GA win). No one is ever going to argue he isn't an elite goalie, especially since he got over that, mentally, and went onto one of the greatest finals performances ever. This just enforces the argument that Lou's problem is in his head - he can't fight through those struggles (that every goalie has) very well, which affects his team's confidence and becomes a vicious circle. His talents are all-world, he just needs to breaks through this mental wall (which I think he can), and all of this talk will go the way of TT's 09-10 season and even this year's ECF.
July 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Hek said:

87Flyer
Not my argument, but I shouldn't butt my nose into a great discussion here but I can't help myself lol. The question, who would you pick if you wanted to win in the next 3 years? That's the ONLY question that matters. Not who did what in the play-offs(unless you're in Dobber's pool of course) or who is liked or not liked or who has deteriorated over the last couple years. Personally I don't trust any tender over 35 with this criteria. For every Thomas or Roloson that comes along there are 10 Khabibulin's. At age 35 with a 3 year window it would be to risky imo to take any tender 35 or older.

Goalie #1:
Last 3 years-
34 wins, 2.59 GAA, 91.6 SV%
41 wins, 2.22 GAA, 92.9 SV%
34 wins, 2.53 GAA, 91.8 SV%
Average- 36 wins, 2.44 GAA, 92.1 SV%

Goalie #2:
Last 3 years-
33 wins, 2.12 GAA, 93.0 SV%
32 wins, 2.53 GAA, 91.1 SV%
29 wins, 2.38 GAA, 91.7 SV%
Average- 31 wins, 2.34 GAA, 91.9 SV%

Goalie #3:
Last 3 years-
38 wins, 2.11 GAA, 92.8 SV%
40 wins, 2.57 GAA, 91.3 SV%
33 wins, 2.34 GAA, 92.0 SV%
Average- 37 wins, 2.34 GAA, 92.0 SV%

Goalie #4:
Last 3 years-
36 wins, 2.28 GAA, 92.3 SV%
35 wins, 2.38 GAA, 92.1 SV%
38 wins, 2.43 GAA, 91.6 SV%
Average- 36 wins, 2.36 GAA, 92.0 SV%

Goalie #5:
Last 3 years-
36 wins, 2.48 GAA, 92.1 SV%
42 wins, 2.29 GAA, 92.0 SV%
26 wins, 2.98 GAA, 90.6 SV%
Average- 34 wins, 2.58 GAA, 91.5 SV%

Goalie #6:
Last 3 years-
37 wins, 2.63 GAA, 90.6 SV%
35 wins, 2.31 GAA, 92.0 SV%
45 wins, 2.84 GAA, 90.3 SV%
Average- 39 wins, 2.59 GAA, 90.9 SV%

So there is your statistics, you're up in the draft and decide on a tender and they're all available, who do you take?


#1- 36 wins, 2.44 GAA, 92.1 SV%
#2- 31 wins, 2.34 GAA, 91.9 SV%
#3- 37 wins, 2.34 GAA, 92.0 SV%
#4- 36 wins, 2.36 GAA, 92.0 SV%
#5- 34 wins, 2.58 GAA, 91.5 SV%
#6- 39 wins, 2.59 GAA, 90.9 SV%

All of them would be decent but of course it depends a lot on the cats used in each individual pool. Here are the goaltenders used.

#1- miller
#2- rinne
#3- luongo
#4- lundqvist
#5- bryzgalov
#6- kiprusoff
July 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... James, I agree and disagree with you at the same time. Luongo is no longer the goalie he was. He is slower (due to style change?) and his glove hand makes Edwin Encaracion's look good. But he's still a top five goalie (just maybe not a top 2 or 3). You are bang on with your comments regarding Chicago - they had him figured out.

The biggest weakness in his game is between his ears. He overthinks things and needs to rely more on his pure goaltending ability.

Some in the Canuck organization share your concern regarding him, as well. I think that is why we will see Schneider stick around for at least one more year.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +1

James Smith said:

jeamcasmith99
... Angus - obviously all goalies give up rebound goals. You know that's not what I'm arguing against.

I'm arguing that Luongo gives up more rebound goals relative to other goalies. He doesn't steer low pucks to safer areas or absorb pucks up high as well as other goalies. If you have the time, just review the tapes of Luongo this past year and compare him in this specific area to the better goalies in the league. In fact, all you need to do is compare him to Schneider. There's a noticeable difference.

There's also a reason why in the 2009-10 playoffs Chicago's coaching staff (as reported by Versus) specifically instructed their players to shoot the puck low on Luongo as often as they could, look for him to kick out those rebounds into the middle, and then pounce on them. Not sure if they continued that game plan this past post-season. They obviously saw his rebound control down low as a critical weakness.

There's also a reason why Nashville's game plan a/g the Canucks this post-season (as reported by CBC) was to shoot the puck often and from everywhere against Luongo.

You may have a point that Luongo's mistakes get more coverage b/c of the market he plays in, but I know this and my comments are based on having NHL center ice and having watched a ton of out-of-market games and goalies of other teams. His rebound control is a weakness.

In general, his skills in the areas I mentioned (glove hand, agility, rebound control) have deteriorated the past couple of years. Watch the tapes from 3-4 years ago. There has not been a corresponding drop in his stats only because the team in front of him and his defensive support has conversely improved a lot since he first joined the Canucks.

Your point about "Vancouver's defense was exposed after a few injuries and bumps and bruises from the more physical Bruins" only reinforces my argument above. Without as great a defense in front of him in the finals (due to injuries), Luongo got exposed. Do you remember how this guy played in his first year with the Canucks? That Luongo stole games for the Canucks when their defense wasn't up to par. This Luongo gets shellacked in blowout games almost without fail if the D has an off-game.

We really need to adjust our opinions about Lu. Stop thinking about him as the same goalie he once was.

Mr Sausage - yes and I agree Luongo is one of the best "fantasy" goalies out there.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +1

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... It's like Semin Washington - people look at his playoff failures and adjust their fantasy rankings. Playoff success/failure has little to do with fantasy hockey success/failure. This doesn't really address your point, but it's one I wanted to make.

Regarding Luongo - he's simply become a polarizing figure in Vancouver. He makes a ton of money. He is on a team where he doesn't need to win them games. Vancouver's defense was exposed after a few injuries and bumps and bruises from the more physical Bruins.

It is also a case of "the grass is greener." Sure, some of the goals he let in were rebounds. Name me one goalie in NHL history who didn't allow rebounds for goals? Because Luongo is in the spotlight so much, more gets made of his mistakes. And because he is a bit of an introvert and not the most likable guy in his interviews, not much gets made of his successes, either. Not making excuses for him, that is just how it is.

Mr Sausage - Price isn't #2 because of his one good season. He's number 2 because he's been a winner and an elite tender at every level. WHL/AHL, etc. His mental toughness (on display last season from day 1) is a huge reason why I like him so much.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +2

Mr Sausage said:

Mr_Sausage
@James Remember James..This is KEEPER LEAGUE for fantasy purposes. Not real life, so Luongos playoff failures have nothing to do with this list. So Luongo is where he should be imo.

Actually that is not true. I think Price is way to high on this list just because of his one good season and his "pedigree". I'd bump him down to at least 5 and move all of the other top 5's up one. I would even put Rinne ahead of Miller...but that's splitting hairs here.

Good list Angus and I think you are right in saying Hiller would be on the list if he was healthy.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

James Smith said:

jeamcasmith99
... Angus, I don't know how you can actually watch this guy play live and think he is one of the best in the league.

No goalie as inconsistent as Luongo is and who repeatedly flounders in the playoffs as much as he does should be considered an "elite" goalie.

This is not a case of one bad year. It's three playoff flops in a row now. Three straight playoffs in which he's punched in one too many awful games.

If not last year playing in front of a deep and stacked President's trophy winning team, then when? How great of a team does Luongo need to actually win it all? Does the team have to be as stacked as the Canadian Olympic team for it to finally happen for him? If that's what it takes, then what is it about Luongo that makes him better than say Niemi or Osgood?

You and I both know a goalie's stats can be aided by the team and defense in front of him. Luongo used to be an elite goalie, but so many areas of his game have slipped over the last couple of years. His stats are now propped up somewhat by playing in front of a great team.

Do you not notice how much weaker his glove hand has become? How much slower and less agile he's become? How much his rebound control has regressed over the last couple of years? Just watch the highlights of some of the goals he gave up this postseason. Big fat rebounds right into juicy areas.

I have no disagreement with you placing him 3rd on your list and I totally think he's an "elite fantasy" goalie. However, there are several goalies I'd rather have on my "real life" team than Luongo.

It's time for a market correction in terms of people's opinion about the real-life Luongo. Otherwise, we're doomed to continue suffering big letdowns post-season after post-season b/c we unjustly expect more out of Luongo than he is capable of delivering.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Ian said:

Reuben
... Constantly amazed at the fellas who can't differentiate between real-life and fantasy.

Yes, Luongo is not viewed favourably in Vancouver.

But the past five years, fantasy-wise, he's been gold. His worst year had 33 wins (and he missed a big chunk of that season due to injury) and his best is 47 wins. He gets shutouts. He has a low GAA. He has a decent save percentage.

He's 32 years old, playing on the best regular-season team in the NHL (Presidents Trophy last season), and the Canucks should be very good for the next 3,4 years.

Don't let your real-life biases get in the way of your fantasy-life choices. Luongo is fantasy gold.

Real life, of course, might be a different story.

Great list, again, Jeff.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... I don't see how you can look at his stats and come to a conclusion that doesn't have him among the best goalies in the league.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

James Smith said:

jeamcasmith99
... Angus, there are some like yourself who consider Luongo one of the best.

There are many, however, who don't.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +1

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... As I said, there could be a dozen more honorable mentions. Every list I get this. Niemi, Crawford, Howard, could be there. Personally, not sold on Niemi. Had a great stretch of a few months last season, sure. Was one of the best in the league. However, I like 10 goalies more.

James - Luongo is regarded as one of the best goaltenders in the world. Playoff meltdown(s) aside, he is in that upper echelon, both on the ice and in fantasy pools.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Molson said:

MolsonX
... No mention of Niemi at all?

Long term contract, little competition, great team, perfect situation. Deserves at least an HM, and could easily be in the 7-10 spots, in fact I would bump Ward out for him.

July 24, 2011
Votes: +1

dave k. said:

dkilburyhockey
... mmm...Niemi has a 4 year contract with a great team and little competition.

Didn't Crawford just extend with the Hawks?

Prefer them to Thomas(age + Rusk) and maybe to Quick who is faced with Bernier.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

James Smith said:

jeamcasmith99
... Luongo is not an "elite" goaltender.

Is he an "elite" fantasy goaltender? Absolutely. He's the #1 goalie on one of the best teams in the league.

There is a critical distinction here.
July 24, 2011
Votes: +1

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Nice Very solid list, good picks!
July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

GMGates said:

July 24, 2011
Votes: +0

CHR said:

CHR17
Top 10 I am trying preatty hard to find flaws in this list but i am not finding any...VERY well done. The only thing i would do is move Luongo down to 5 and move both Miller and Rinne up a spot.

Oh, and add Jack Campbell smilies/smiley.gif
July 24, 2011 | url
Votes: +0
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