|Fantasy Indicators of Success (2009): Goalies||Tweet|
|Written by Ryan Ma|
|Tuesday, 03 November 2009 11:15|
Back by popular demand, for the next four weeks we’ll run through a series of columns that will highlight players who are earmarked for success, based on a few selected criteria, along with those who should be on your list as a potential sell-high candidate. We’ll begin this series by examining the two top goalies from each of the 15 Western Conference teams.
But first some Maaaaquito Buzzings...
Players in the last seven days with the highest production in each category who are less than 50% owned in Yahoo leagues.
There are a couple of key indicators to look for in terms of predicting success for a goaltender. There’s your basic GAA, save percentage stats along with overall record. Out of the three mentioned above GAA and overall record could be directly influenced by the play of the team in front of them. For example, if a team is highly offensive (Calgary), their goalie is going to pick up more wins than a team who’s weak offensively (Carolina). On a similar scale, GAA could also be affected by the team’s selected style of play (Phoenix) versus the run-and-gun style of Washington. One true indicator to determine how well a goalie is playing is looking at save percentage. If a goalie stops nine shots in every 10 that he faces he has a .900 save percentage, if he stops 27 in every 30 he also has a .900 save percentage. Save percentage rarely lies about how well a goalie is playing. Those three stats mentioned above don’t reveal the entire story. Another vital, and possibly the most important, indicator that might not be as well known to the general public is how well defensively a team plays in front of their goalie. The easiest way to examine that indicator is by looking at how many shots a team allows to the opposition per contest. Obviously, the lower amount of shots they give up to the opposition the smaller the chance for a team to be fishing the puck out of the back of their own net. The opposite is also true, the more shots they allow their opponents to fire on their goalie, the higher the chance of puck going in. We’ll use these four indicators to give you a better outlook at 30 of the goalies from the Western Conference. NOTE: These ramblings are based on one-year leagues, and not meant for keeper/dynasty leagues.
Anaheim is in an interesting position, as they have the luxury of having two capable goalies to man the pipes. Giguere has been saddled with a leg injury which has opened the door for Hiller to temporarily run away with the number one gig, but Giggy’s six-million dollar salary will keep him in the running all season long. Expect a 50/50 maybe a 60/40 split for the rest of the season unless one of the goalies gets dealt. A positive that fantasy owners should look towards is the fact that the Ducks have pretty much nowhere to go but up in terms of team defense. As I have stated above, one of the main statistics to look at in terms of fantasy impact for goalies is the number of shots allowed as a team. The Ducks are currently sitting in second last by giving up an average of 35.5 SOG per contest to their opposition, compared to just 30.5 last season. Randy Carlyle will make adjustments in the next 10 contests, which should result in Hiller and Giguere’s numbers to settle back down to the level that most poolies expected when drafting the Duck duo. The only problem is it’s probably going to be a continuous guessing game each contest as to who’s going to start between the pipes for the Ducks.
Heading into the season, the Sutter brothers wanted to scale back Kipper’s starts to help preserve him for the playoffs, 12 contests in and it seems like they’re going back on their word. The Flames are right around the middle of the pack by giving up 30.3 SOG per contest to the opposition and I don’t really see that changing too much throughout the season. I listed Kipper as a sell-high candidate basically for all of the reasons that I listed in my previous columns, if you have been following them throughout the year. If you haven’t I’ll briefly recap them here: 1) Five consecutive seasons of declining save percentage, .933, .923, .917, .906, .903. 2) Five consecutive seasons of increasing GAA, 1.69, 2.07, 2.46, 2.69, 2.84. 3) He’s turned 33 this year. 4) He’ll get plenty of wins due to his high number of starts, but sacrificing two stats in GAA and save percentage is not worth it. 5) Finland is probably going to be heavily depending on him to backstop them to a second consecutive Olympic medal, which will add to his work load. Basically use his record to your advantage and sell-high while he fantasy value is sky-high. Stand pat on McElhinney, unless he gets more starts, he probably doesn’t have much value to be owned in fantasy leagues.
After scaring many fantasy poolies, including myself, to start the season, Huet seems to have rounded the corner with a few consecutive quality starts the last week. Chicago as a team is ranking tops in opposing shots allowed per contest, by giving up a league-low 22.7 SOG against, which is a strong indicator that the overall numbers will be just fine. I’ve listed Huet as a buy-low candidate only because of his sub 900 save percentage, use that to your advantage in trade negotiations, but expect that number to rise towards the .916 career average that he proudly owns. One thing to keep in mind regarding Huet is that he’s never started more than 43 contests in his eight-year NHL career. Granted he’s never really been a full-time number one goalie, so this year will be his true test, with that said look for Niemi to possibly get in 25-30 starts by year’s end.
Mason is off to a very slow start to the season as his numbers are definitely not anywhere near the expected numbers by the poolies that drafted him earlier this season. On a positive note, he still does own a very respectable record on the year, but his peripheral numbers just haven’t been great. I listed him as a stand pat candidate only because the Blue Jackets currently rank 21st overall in terms of team defense as they’re giving up a whopping 30.5 shots to the opposition each contest, compared to just 27.8 last season, which means that there’s a bit of room for improvement. That might be one of the main reasons why Mason has started slowly this season, and if the Blue Jackets can revert back towards their stingy defensive ways, he could once again prove to be a top 10 if not five goalie by season’s end. Also he’ll probably welcome back the services of Jan Hejda, who should be returning back into the Columbus lineup later on this week. With that said, he could also be following along the Carey Price, Andrew Raycroft and Cam Ward path and fall as another victim of the terrible sophomore slump for goalies. It’s certainly an interesting crossroad that all Mason owners will face in the next 10 or so contests. Garon has certainly been there and done that. If Mason does experience the dreaded sophomore slump, don’t discount coach Ken Hitchcock to make the swift change to Garon as his number one. If you have a free roster spot you should certainly stash away!
The Avs are off to a blazing start thanks to some solid goaltending by Anderson. The main question that is on everyone’s mind is how long is it going to last? What’s surprising that he’s accomplished most of this while being on the road and he certainly deserves plenty of props for doing so. The main thing that I found while doing some research for this article is that the Avs are currently ranked last in the league in terms of shots on goal per contest (25.1), yet they are ranked 14th in the league for goals scored (2.93). If that trend continues, don’t expect the Avs to be as lucky in picking up wins moving forward, which will surely directly affect Anderson’s win totals. Another factor that won’t act favourably towards Anderson is that fact that the Avs’ defense ranks 25th overall in the league by giving up an average of 33.1 shots to the opposition per contest, which sooner or later is are going to catch up to Anderson. If you are a smart GM, now would be the perfect time to cash in your chips in Anderson, considering you probably paid very little in a late-round draft pick for him in the first place. Peter Budaj was supposed to pick up his first start of the season, but mysteriously came down with Swine Flu. The whole Swine Flu situation was blown way out of proportion here in Australia, and it appears the same thing is happening in North America. It’s not going to kill 50 percent of the population as a few fear-mongers have stated, it’ll stay in your system a tad longer than the normal flu, and you’ll be back to normal within 10-14 days, seriously not a big deal. Budaj will probably get his first action of the season later on this week, if not early next week. His fantasy value still remains negligible.
The Stars have picked up points in 11 of their first 14 contests, which is a great start for the suddenly very deep Dallas squad. Turco was off to a very hot start before missing the last few contests with flu-like symptoms. It certainly appears that Turco’s dreadful year last season (2.81 and .898) is well and truly behind him. His 2.26 GAA currently ranks him fifth amongst all number one starters in the NHL, so if you own Turco definitely stand pat on him. What’s also on both Turco and Auld’s side is their team defense. They’re currently ranked 10th overall by giving up only 28.8 SOG per contest to the opposition, and that’s without Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen in the lineup. Turco should be back later on this week, which will devalue Auld’s fantasy value for the rest of the season.
Detroit’s near .500 start could be mainly be attributed to their shoddy goaltending. Both goalies have an above three GAA and a sub .900 save percentage, which if that trend continues the Wings could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. There are plenty of similarities between this season and last season which probably doesn’t bode well for Osgood owners. Last season the Red Wings finished with a second best team defense rating by allowing a paltry 27.7 opposing SOG per contest. This year, they’re ranked eighth overall by giving up a very similar 28.4. Osgood also finished last regular season with very similar numbers during the regular season (3.09 and .887) compared to this year (3.10 and .889). The problem is last year they had a very capable backup in Ty Conklin, this year they have to rely on an inexperienced Howard. If you are an Osgood owner, use his record as your main selling point, and see if you can get a reasonable return for his services. Take a wait and see approach with Howard.
The Oilers are also toiling around the .500 mark thanks to some mediocre goaltending by Nikolai Khabibulin. If you look at their team offensively they’re averaging 2.87 goals per contest, which sits them 16th in that department, and as a result it has given them a 7-7-1 record. If you look at the surrounding teams, Buffalo owns a very similar 2.91 goals per contest rating but has an 8-2-1 record to show, while Chicago has a 2.92 goals per contest rating but owns a 8-4-1 record and finally Colorado at 2.93 goals per contest has a 10-3-2 record. So maybe if Khabibulin actually played like he did last season, you probably would think that the Oilers would have a similar record as the three teams listed above. The fact that the Oilers also give up the fourth most opposing shots against per contest (33.9) probably doesn’t bode well for Khabibulin’s numbers in the future. If you own him as a third goalie, it might be a smart idea to trade him away or outright drop him before he destroys your goalie stats any further. Deslaurier might be someone that you might want to keep a close eye on. In two starts this season JDD has very impressive numbers, if the Bulin wall continues down this trend, you would think that coach Pat Quinn will be forced to start JDD more than the usual twice in every 15 contests. If you do have a free roster spot, you should definitely stash him away.
It has been the Quick show in LA as he’s picked up the bulk of the starts for the Kings early this season. Quick’s numbers aren’t as good as they were last season, but the Kings re-vamped offense has certainly covered up those flaws. His GAA currently ranks 13th amongst number one starters, while his save percentage is a bit slack as it ranks 21st amongst his number one peers. One thing that Quick has on his side is the fact that the Kings are ranked third overall in team defense as they only allow a modest 26.4 opposing shots per contest. If you are shopping for a goalie, definitely use his weak save percentage as a bargaining chip, and try to acquire Quick while his value is still a bit low. With the stingy defense in LA those numbers will improve as the season wears on. If you are an Ersberg owner, now might be the time to cut bait. Quick’s hot and doesn’t look like he’s going to be giving up the number one gig in LA that easily.
Minnesota ditched the defensive-minded Jacques Lemaire during the off-season and turned towards a more offensive minded Todd Richards to run the helm for the Wild. Backstrom’s numbers haven’t really slipped too much as he still maintains a decent GAA and save percentage, but his overall record has certainly taken a big hit. I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt and kept him as a stand pat candidate, but I have a sneaking suspicion that his peripheral numbers will drop as the season wears on. If you have a contending team this season, you might want to sell Backstrom while his value is still fairly high. On a positive note, the Wild still are amongst the top 10 in terms of team defense as they allow the ninth lowest opposing SOG per contest in the league. It doesn’t look like Harding will get a fair shake of the sauce bottle this year, or ever, as long as Backstrom is the number one in Minny. If you are a Harding owner and there is a better option on the waiver wire, now might be the time to jump ship.
About a week ago the Predator goaltending situation was extremely murky, but with three solid wins this past week, it appears as though the goaltending situation has worked itself out. Rinne has stopped 61 of the 63 shots he’s faced in the last three contests and is making a strong bid to become the undisputed number one goalie in Nashville. As shaky as the Preds have started the season, they’re actually right in the mix of things regarding team defense ranking 14th overall. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that no matter how untalented a team maybe, Barry Trotz always seems to get the best out of them. That’s one of the main reasons I have Rinne listed as a buy-low candidate right now.
The Coyotes have started this season red-hot, the main question is how long is it going to last? A lot of the defensive improvements this season could be mainly attributed to their new head coach Dave Tippet. In six previous years of coaching in the NHL, Tippet had the Stars ranked fifth, first, second, second, fourth and fifth in terms of team defense. Currently, Tippet has the Coyotes ranked fourth overall and it will likely stay that way for the duration of the fantasy season. As boring as it makes the games, it’s actually effective when trying to pick up wins, which is exactly what the Coyotes desperately need this season. Bryzgalov is a great fantasy own, because even though he might not pick up a huge amount of wins, his GAA and save percentage will be good enough to help you dramatically in your fantasy leagues as long as Tippet is behind the bench. A lot of owners will be trying to sell high on Bryz right about now, so if the price is reasonable, definitely take a stab at him and you won’t regret it. With Bryz picking up the majority of the starts for the Yotes, LaBarbera probably won’t see enough starts to warrant enough fantasy value to be owned in fantasy pools this season. Leave him on the waiver wire, where he belongs.
Nabokov entered the season as probably one of the top five goalies, if not top three, drafted in your fantasy pools, and so far he hasn’t disappointed. His wins, GAA and save percentage all rank amongst the top ten amongst goalies in the entire league. The high octane Sharks’ offense should help Nabby pick up plenty of wins along with decent peripheral stats, so look for him to finish the season as a top-three goalie. The fact that the Sharks rank 11th overall in terms of team defense (29.3 SA/G) probably doesn’t hurt his case either. Thomas Greiss has decent upside, but unfortunately won’t get very many starts this season to be of any fantasy value. Leave him on the waiver wire where he belongs.
Mason had awesome post-All-Star numbers last season (2.10 and .924) which helped guide the Blues to a return to the playoffs for the first time in five consecutive seasons. He’s been a bit slow out of the gate which follows his typical historical playing pattern (career 3.17 and .895 in October), so it’s nothing really to panic about. What you do need to keep in mind is his career post-ASB numbers (2.33 and .917) for the second half this year. The Blues defensive scheme is right smack in the middle of the league, so the only major hurdle that may hinder Mason is his backup, Conklin. He played spoiler last year in Detroit and could very well do the same once again this season. Conks has compiled a 45-21-7 record in the last three years, as a backup, and is desperately trying to prove that he has what it takes to be a number one in the league. If that’s not enough motivation for him to do well this season, I don’t know what is?
The big news out of Vancouver is the loss of Luongo for the next week or longer due to a hairline fracture in one of his ribs. I initially thought that this might have been a lingering injury which was the reason for his slow start to this season, but according to TSN, he suffered that injury five contests ago against the Leafs, but re-aggravated it against the Red Wings a week ago. Either way, Luongo missed nearly 20 games last season due to an injury and returned with a bang, so expect much of the same this season. While Luongo is out with the injury, look for Raycroft to be a very solid buy-low candidate. Since taking over from Luongo, Raycroft has allowed only five goals in 164 minutes of play. If Luongo’s injury proves to be a worst than first presumed, Raycroft’s fantasy value could skyrocket. Also the fifth overall ranked defense of the Canucks (27.7 SA/G) should make his life a lot easier. Once again if you have a free roster spot, or if you are looking for some help in the goalie front definitely take a flier on the Razor.
Questions or comments? Like always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them with you in the comments section below. We’ll see you next week, as we go through the Fantasy Indicators of Success 2009 for defenseman from the Western Conference.
|Last Updated on Friday, 06 November 2009 01:25|