Price Angus Certified

 

Who are the best goaltenders to own in fantasy hockey? The list continues to change considerably from year to year....


 

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 we place an emphasis on age, upside, and potential 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.


Here are my past lists ranking the best (fantasy) goaltenders in the NHL:


Keeping the above rule in mind, I have compiled a list of the top ten keeper league goaltenders  to own (assuming standard keeper league rules and scoring categories). Using the two or three season scope, I had to balance proven production with younger goalies who are making a name for themselves in the NHL (or elsewhere).

 

Clarifying what “standard categories” means, here is the league format that I am basing my selections on:

  • 12 to 15 teams
  • Start 4 C, 4 LW, 4 RW, 6 D, 2 G (5 Bench)
  • G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP (power play points), GWG (game winning goals), Hits, SOG (shots on goal)
  • Wins, Saves, SO, GAA, SV %

 

Goaltenders are difficult to evaluate relative to skaters (in fantasy hockey, at least). Thankfully, we have learned a lot over the years from Justin Goldman, who remains my go-to source for all goaltending information. And a keeper league scope changes things a bit (although the top goalie on my list is also the best goalie in the league in my opinion).


I also consulted the DobberHockey forums for some help in putting this list together, and you can check some other people’s thoughts and rankings right here.


1. Carey Price


Rank in 2012: 3
Rank in 2011: 2
Rank in 2010: 10

 

Price is the best goaltender in the league. He is extremely fluid and efficient in net, and he never looks rattled. Probably because he never is rattled. His calm demeanor has been a staple of his game as far back as minor hockey. He was the exact same type of goaltender in the WHL, AHL, and internationally for Canada. Montreal plays a structured defensive game, but their success starts and ends with #31 in goal. Price is young, confident, and in a great situation to post fantastic goaltending numbers for the forseeable future. A slam dunk for the top spot.



2. Tuukka Rask


Rank in 2012: 6
Rank in 2011: Honourable Mention (Tim Thomas effect)
Rank in 2010: 4

 

The rich get richer - Boston won the 2011 Stanley Cup thanks in large part to the heroics of Tim Thomas (who was deservingly rewarded with the Conn Smythe). After Thomas went MIA on Boston last year, the team gladly promoted Rask to the starter's position. The only thing holding Rask back in previous years was his lack of experience with a heavy workload - he has looked great this season as Boston's starting goalie, and the best is yet to come.

 

Here's a great read by Justin Goldman on Rask from last summer.



3. Henrik Lundqvist


Rank in 2012: 1
Rank in 2011: 1
Rank in 2010: 2

 

The King has been dethroned. Lundqvist's fall to number three isn't so much a reflection of decline in his game as it is the emergence of Price in Montreal and Rask in Boston. Lundqvist is still a phenomenal goaltender who stifles opposing shooters with his unique style. He's only 31 - there is a lot of hockey left in him. While the Rangers haven't been as stifling defensively as usual this year, injuries can be blamed. However, the team hasn't been executing as well as they have in previous seasons, which may be cause for concern. Lundqvist's numbers have taken a bit of a hit because of that.



4. Cory Schneider


Rank in 2012: 9
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked


Although the Luongo trade saga has dragged on about a year longer than most expected, Schneider has still found a way to emerge as an elite goaltender in the NHL. He is extremely proficient technically (right behind Price in that regard), and he uses his size and speed in goal to challenge opposing shooters. He isn't the best puckhandling goaltender, but he is learning to play within his limitations in that regard. The rest of his game is near-flawless.

 

Like Rask, the only concern was whether he could handle a starter's workload. Schneider's game seems to improve the more he plays, although we won't have a firm answer to this question until Luongo is finally out of Vancouver (this summer).



5. Pekka Rinne
Rank in 2012: 4
Rank in 2011: 5


Rank in 2010: Honourable Mention


If you are a value investor, this summer may be the best (and only) time to acquire Rinne. He hasn't been himself this season - sure, the Suter departure could be one factor, but Rinne hasn't been as mentally sharp as he has been in past years. His glove hand is still the best in the league (where pucks go to die), and he has zero competition from other goaltenders in the organization. Expect a strong bounceback season in 2013-14.

 

Goldman on Rinne's 'constant motion', and why that makes him a successful goaltender.



6. Kari Lehtonen


Rank in 2012: Honourable Mention
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked


Kari Lehtonen's path to elite status has been a long journey, and it took a number of injuries, setbacks, and eventually a trade to Dallas to get him on the right path. He has every attribute you want in a franchise goalie - he can steal games, he's big, aggressive, and durable (not something you would have read about him earlier on in his career).

 

On that note, he has had a few minor injuries this year (groin related). I may be looking at this wrong, but I'd blame the lockout for most of the groin injuries around the league - condensed training camp, condensed season, less time to recover and train. Lehtonen does have a track record of injuries, but it doesn't concern me too much (although you may feel differently).

 

The Stars are a team rebuilding, so Lehtonen's GAA and win total will reflect that. However, he will keep the team closer to playoff contention than they probably should be, and I expect them to be very aggressive over the next few years as they attempt to assemble a winner in Big D. Consider Kari elite, says Goldman.

 

A "mastadonic stop" indeed:


 

7. Jonathan Quick


Rank in 2012: 2
Rank in 2011: 7
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked


Quick's drop from the second spot isn't really indicative of any significant decline in his play. Let me expand on that a bit. I don't think Quick is a worse goalie than he was last season. Was his value inflated when I wrote the 2012 list? Probably, yeah. He was in the middle of a ridiculous stretch of hockey. The Kings are a great team (arguably the best in hockey on many nights), and Quick has a long-term deal that will keep him in Los Angeles for a long while.

 

His back injury is a bit of a concern (back injuries worry me, but it would be a bit hypocritical to brush off Lehtonen's injuries and then knock Quick down for his), and Jonathan Bernier has stolen a few of his starts this season (although many expect Bernier to have a new home this summer or soon after).


 

8. Craig Anderson


Rank in 2012: Not Ranked
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Honourable Mention


It has gotten to the point where it is impossible to ignore what Anderson is doing. There haven't been many goalies as dominant as he has been over the past few years. The only thing that stopped him from likely earning  Vezina nomination this season was a sprained ankle.

 

He will eventually have to battle with Robin Lehner for the starting gig in Ottawa (Lehner is the real deal), but for now, Anderson is the man for the Senators (he has two years left on his contract - an incredible cap hit of $3.1 million). Bryan Murray is the best GM in hockey.


 

9. Antti Niemi


Rank in 2012: Not Ranked
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked


I've never been a fan of Niemi's in previous years (hence him never being ranked on the list). Sure, he has a Stanley Cup ring, but that was due in large part to playing behind a dominant Chicago squad. However, over the past two seasons (and this one, in particular), he has really emerged as a viable fantasy stud. He has always had the talent to steal games, but consistency was lacking. He'd have a sensational week and then get shelled in a game or two. As a poolie (especially in a weekly league), that made it awfully tough to rely on him for consistent production.

 

The Sharks aren't nearly as good up front as they once were. Their defense has been bolstered (Brad Stuart, most notably), but the biggest difference has been Niemi's improvement. He's been their best player on more than a few nights this season.


 

10. Roberto Luongo

 

Rank in 2012: 10

Rank in 2011: 3

Rank in 2010: 1

 

Is it too early to order a Flyers "LUONGO" jersey? Kidding aside, it would not completely surprise me to see the Flyers buy out Bryzgalov and bring Luongo in. Roberto is definitely better than the 10th best goalie in the league (his consistency has been unparalleled save for Lundqvist), but right now his future status is in limbo.

 

His contract doesn't "suck."

 

At least for whatever team trades for him. The Canucks would bear the brunt of any cap penalty if (when) he retires early. Luongo's salary drops down to $1.5 million in 2019-20 - I would bet every single dollar I have that he hangs up the skates that summer. His cap hit ($5.3 million) is very manageable for a proven and elite goaltender. And an incredibly funny one, too. His durability and consistency should be commended (and quite frankly, valued, by poolies - look at the variance with goalies from year to year).

 

 

Very Honourable Menton*:


Corey Crawford


Crawford is another goalie who has taken huge strides forward over the past few years. I started to pay more attention to him after the 2011 first round series against the Canucks - he was fantastic in all of the seven games, keeping Chicago in it until the very end. He benefits from playing behind a great team, and that leads to better stats and more wins. 

 

*I realize having 11 goalies on a top 10 list is a bit of a cop out, but Crawford was on my list all year (up until a few weeks ago). However, he has looked a bit shaky (soft goals), and Ray Emery has been fantastic. A tiny seed of doubt has been planted.


Honourable Mentions:


Jacob Markstrom - A lack of experience is the only thing keeping the towering Swede off of this list


Sergei Bobrovsky - If 'Bob' can carry his stellar play over into 2013-14, he'll find a way to crack the top 10 list. Right now, his sample size is a bit small.


Ryan Miller - A change of scenery is needed for Miller, who will likely find himself playing elsewhere next season. He hasn't been the same goalie since his phenomenal 2009-10 season.


Jimmy Howard - A good goalie on a team in transition - I like Howard, but had to pick 10 goalies.


Cam Ward - Too inconsistent, and the 'Canes as a team are too inconsistent defensively for my liking.


Mike Smith - The uncertainty of free agency looms over Smith - will teams be scared off because of the Bryzgalov effect?


Marc-Andre Fleury - Good goalie, great team.


Other Top 10 Lists from 2013:

 

 


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Comments (19)add comment

Matthews said:

Matthews
Uh, Hiller? Hard to believe Jonas Hiller rarely ever gets a mention, even this season. Some points in favour of Hiller:
1) His health "issues" are long over. No more vertigo for the last 2 seasons.
2) Blame the lockout for his slow start this season, and thus, giving Fasth the chance to play. But Hiller has reclaimed his #1 status in Anaheim, getting the nod for the majority of the starts for the Ducks (except for last week due to the flu).
3) He plays for a great team with great players in front of him. Perry and Getzlaf both are signed long term. And he plays for a great coach. Ever since Boudreau has taken over, the Ducks have been one of the most winningest teams in the NHL.
4) Best for last: stats. They don't lie. Since January of last year, Hiller's stats line is: 33-19-10 / 2.20 GAA / .910 SV% / 4 SHO. If you omit his rough start to this season (6 games), his stats line looks like this: THIS SEASON: 10-3-3 / 1.94 GAA / .928 SV% / 1 SHO, SINCE JANUARY OF LAST SEASON: 30-17-9 / 2.05 GAA / .922 SV% / 3 SHO

Top 10 worthy?
April 14, 2013
Votes: +0

Mr Zizzla said:

Mr Zizzla
THE PRICE IS WRONG!! Obviously this is just your opinion Angus (especially with 2 canucks goalies on the list) but how do you anoint Price the #1 goalie and yet you leave Fleury off the list completely.

The Pens fan in me was disappointed to see that Fleury wasn't on the list but seemed to be a ho-hum honourable mention too. Have you actually compared Fleury's stats to your main man Price? Now i am a homer for the Pens but by no means do i think Fleury is #1 nor is he a top 3 option, top 5 perhaps but more likely the 6-8 range in any top 10 list.

Let's take a look at the Flower versus the Dobberhockey.com CHOSEN ONE:
2013
Price: 32GP 19-8-4 2.28GAA .915% 3SHO
Fleury: 28GP 20-6-0 2.31GAA .917% 1SHO

2011-2012
Price: 65GP 26-28-11 2.43GAA .916% 4SHO
Fleury: 67GP 42-17-4 2.36GAA .913% 3SHO

2010-2011
Price: 72GP 38-28-6 2.35GAA .923% 8SHO
Fleury: 65GP 36-20-5 2.32GAA .918% 3SHO

Now that we have analyzed the stats, HOW IS FLEURY NOT ON THE LIST AND PRICE IS #1?!
MIND = BLOWN!

Beyond the stats, would you rather play behind:
Pacioretty, Gionta, Plekanec, Ryder, Desharnais, Subban, Markov
or
Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Dupuis, Letang, Martin
?

You could argue that Fleury is 3 years older but i would take the Pens lineup over the Habs any day!

Fleury does give up the soft goal from time to time and his blood isn't icy like Price's but give credit where credit is due. Fleury is coming into the prime of his and while he won't rack up the shutouts, to say that those 10 goalies (11 if you count Crawford, another 1/2 goalie that is losing his job to Emery) are better options than Fleury in any fantasy league is very misguided.

The marijuana in BC must be REALLY REALLY good this time of year. smilies/wink.gif

Lundqvist
Rask
Rinne
Price
Fleury
Quick
Niemi
Schneider (would be higher if he wasn't a 1/2 goalie)
Bobrovsky
Crawford (would be higher if he wasn't a 1/2 goalie)

Lehtonen is close and i think he is a great goalie but as an owner of his, i NEVER start him over Fleury. Never, ever. Dallas can't figure out which way they are going and his groin is ALWAYS a concern. Not as bad as his ATL days but he is out AGAIN this year and this will always be an issue with him.

All that said, great work as it got me fired up to join the debate.

Oh yeah, Fleury's got a ring too and he EARNED that one for the Pens!
how's this for elite talent?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCOz3NmNnhk

How's this for poise?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kANbgKP6seM

i won't hold it against you if you take out one of your Canucks goalies and put in Fleury.
April 12, 2013
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
RE: Backstrom As a pending UFA who likely won't re-sign with Minnesota, I don't see the long-term fantasy value in Backstrom either.
April 11, 2013
Votes: +0

4horsemen said:

4horsemen
Q His contract doesn't suck?!? Even HE said his contract sucks. Every GM in the NHL thinks his contract sucks as evidenced by their complete and utter refusal to meet an asking price, however modest. Nope, his contract sucks! But I agree with your ranking of him inside the top 10!

Kudos to your for putting your neck out there with the young guns! I couldn't stand everyone anointing Lundy, Quick and Rinne as 'The Big Three' at the start of the year. I'm starting to view goalies the same way I do mutual funds.....be very cautious when chasing success because consistency is an incredibly rare phenomenon.
April 11, 2013
Votes: +0

reeveta said:

reeveta
... Angus, Time to change your password. Mike Gillis hacked your account and wrote the Luongo section. smilies/smiley.gif

I would have liked to see Fleury on the list. Team he plays for gives you wins and he gets a lot of starts.

April 11, 2013
Votes: +0

number54 said:

number54
Backstrom I'll agree with Angus that Backstrom isn't in the top-10 most talented list of goalies in the NHL, but we're not here to rate that. We're here to rate their fantasy numbers. From that standpoint, I would take Backstrom over Lehtonen, Niemi, Smith, Markstrom, or Ward for the next 3 years without pause. I also think you're vastly underrating Quick, given the team in front of him for the foreseeable future.
April 11, 2013
Votes: -1

angus said:

angus
... Yes he is. Not even close to a top 10 goalie (in my opinion - I've been wrong before).
April 11, 2013
Votes: +0

dubroe said:

dubroe
What about Backstrom? Isn't he leading the NHL in wins right now?
April 11, 2013
Votes: +0

MGW said:

MGW
My list, for fun I don't understand how Bobrovsky can be left over any top 10 list. I mean it's not like any goalie before him has had 1 fantastic season with the Jackets and then was a flop...jk

1- Anderson
2- Lehner
3- Bishop............ooops, I mean

1-Lundy
2-Rinne
3-Price
4-Rask
5-Schneider
6-Quick
7-Fleury
8-Smith
9-Lu
10-Lehtonen
April 11, 2013
Votes: -1

angus said:

angus
... Solid feedback - not going to please everyone with this list. Seems to be a general top four/five consensus and then a lot of differing opinions.
April 11, 2013
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
EDIT Bobrovsky should be on my HM list. He might even be top 10, but I just need more time to evaluate him and Columbus.
April 11, 2013
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
Good list My list is similar to yours but the differences are that I can't rightly put Schneider nor Luongo in my top 10 list at this time, given their tandem situation and not knowing when/if that will be resolved. In most leagues, I'm not touching either of those goalies right now. Nothing kills a goalie's value more than having to split time with another quality starter.

I also have Fleury much higher on my list. He may not be the most talented or consistent goalie in the league, but he plays for arguably the best team and because he is signed long-term, I don't see his situation changing for a long time. He is definitely someone I target in all my leagues.

My top 10 list (in order):

Rask
Price
Fleury
Lundqvist
Rinne
Anderson
Quick
Miller
Niemi
Ward

HM: Howard (UFA), Crawford (Emery), Smith (UFA), Lehtonen (Injury-prone)
April 11, 2013
Votes: -1

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Ugh. I agree with the top four, but not in that order.
Price should not be top two (Lundqvist/Rask).

Lehtonen is a terrific goalie, but the Dallas team is too young and will get shelled with shots for the foreseeable future. I called it this year, Lehtonen's numbers dropped based on the stripped-down Dallas D.

I don't have faith in Anderson either. Yes, he had a great start to the year, in the same way that Thomas Vanek did too. His 2011-2012 full season in Ottawa ranked him outside of the top 25 NHL goaltenders.

I'd probably give this list a C.
I think you are underrating Jimmy Howard & Ryan Miller.
I'd have both on my top 10.
April 11, 2013
Votes: -1

Shadow said:

Shadow
... Yea, not so sure about Price being the "slam dunk" #1 goalie.

He's good, and I respect the opinion, but I'd rather wait till like, ya know, he actually does better than Lundqvist before I slide him into the top spot. Let's not forget that, at age 31, Henrik is right in the "prime" wheelhouse for goaltenders.

Even this season, when Montreal is clearly playing quite a bit better than the Rangers, Henrik has one less win, a better GAA and a better save percentage. In fact, his GAA (2.12) and SV% (.926) are better than any numbers Price has ever put up in a single season. Ever.

Price is good, Lundqvist is better. That may very well change in the future, but the stats don't lie in the present.
April 11, 2013
Votes: -1

Shoeless said:

Shoeless
Nice! Yo can mix your top 5 around if you wish but you nailed them - I might take Schneider ahead of Rask actually.

I think you blew it with Lehtonen, he's a very good goaltender but he can't carry a mediocre team like the best can and he is just too brittle to pay for him in the 6th slot.

When it comes to tier 2 goalies the group is that much larger and so tougher to call. Niemi, Crawford, Fleury, Anderson, Loungo all belong, I think. I would have a hard time ever wanting Miller and I just don't think Quick is that good. I like Markstrom, Fasth, Bobber and Bernier as being the next echelon.

But always fun to read your list and see how you arrived at them, Angus. Thanks for the contribution to my daily fantasy bread.
April 11, 2013
Votes: -1

Grapes said:

Grapes
... Angus, how would the order change if at all without shut outs? Our stats are the same as your perameters except shut outs.smilies/grin.gif
April 10, 2013
Votes: +0

RangerFan said:

RangerFan
... Like the list Angus but have to disagree on Lundqvist not being #1. His numbers (except for shutouts which are always in flux anyway) are just as good as last years. Take out the first 7 games in January which for him were training camp and his GAA is 2 with SV% over 0.930%! You can't get better than that. As a team the Rangers are starting to find their groove and that's without Staal who is progressing well and should be ready by next season. I don't see the Rangers being a worse team next year than Montreal.
April 10, 2013
Votes: +0

davidgoodburn said:

davidgoodburn
... I'm excited to finally have a top 10 list to be able to debate. Price is a great young goalie but i struggle to see how he leapfrogged Lindqvist on the list. Price's numbers this year are not as good as Lundqvist's and Lundqvist has a better history. Montreal is an up ad coming team but at best they are not significantly better than the Rangers. Both Price and Lindqvist have no backup threatening to steal starts and no competition on the farm. Give me Lundqvist as #1 any day of the week
April 10, 2013
Votes: +0

ross10019 said:

ross10019
... Great list Angus, and I pretty much agree with everything you've got there. I especially agree that Fleury and Ward, who are so highly rated by so many fantasy GMs, actually don't belong in the top 10 from a fantasy perspective.

I assume this now means you've also changed your mind about who should be the starter for Team Canada 2014. You rightly have Price no 1 overall here, but yet on your prospective 2014 Team Canada roster you had Luongo as the putative starter. Luongo's very good but there is no way in the world he will start ahead of Price in 2014 - sure he may be the backup, and may steal the job if Price falters, but he ain't the starter.

Kudos, great job.
April 10, 2013
Votes: +0
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