School of Block held a fantasy forums mailbag last week and the quality of questions I answered was just outstanding. The volume was even more impressive, as I gladly spent my entire day answering…well…almost all of them.


The only question left unanswered was a request from Leafs2010. He asked me to list the Top-10 goalies for a one-year fantasy league using the common statistical categories. I realized automatically that a question of such magnitude and importance deserved more time and focus than the others, so I pondered it for the whole week. Lo and behold, my ranking of the 10 best goalies to own for this season, if you’re playing in a one-year league that uses the common scoring categories.


Although I rarely spend time discussing statistics, there’s no escaping it in a ranking such as this. So I keyed in on one stat in particular, one that I feel speaks volumes for a goalie’s fantasy value. This figure is simply the ratio of games in whicha goalie posts a .900 save percentage or higher. Divided by their total number of games played, this percentage is a strong indication of how consistent the goalie performed last season and how effective they may have been in helping their team win games.


Please keep in mind that the mission this week is to provide you with the Top-10 goalies we feel are poised to be the most valuable to own in a one-year, head-to-head fantasy league. We cannot predict injuries, trades, or free agency signings, so this is as of and up to July 26, 2010. We feel it is important to own a goaltender that effectively stops the puck and also fills you with confidence. This list reflects those factors and includes the best goalies most suited to lead you to a fantasy league title.


1.Tuukka Rask –Not only do I think Rask is the most technically sound European goalie currently in the NHL, I was also quite impressed with his mental toughness down the stretch last year. He was very durable in a rookie season where his minutes were all back loadedin the pressure-filled second half. An astonishing 77% of his games resulted in a .900 save percentage or higher (34 total games), which was the highest in the NHL for all starting goalies. And don’t forget he posted the league’s best goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931) as well.Combined with great outings in his first 10 playoff games, it was a brilliant start to his NHL career. He’s projected to start 60-65 games this season, making him that much more valuable.


Why is he #1? He’s the best combination of all three fantasy worlds – skill, situation and stats - and he’s still getting better.


2. Ryan Miller – The 2010 Vezina Trophy winner continues to improve his ability to win behind strong mental toughness and leadership skills. He gained a ton of confidence after his run in the Olympics and clearly revealed just how good he can be when it matters most for his team. Miller is an inspired goalie, a well-oiled machine with the perfect combination of quickness and solid positioning. He rarely struggled in games last season, as he posted 41 wins in 69 outings and a .929 save percentage, which was second overall in the NHL. A whopping 76 percent of his games resulted in a .900 save percentage or higher (52 total) and he also notched five shutouts while averaging a workable 28.2 shots per game.


Why is he #2? No other goalie has improved more in the last three years. It’s Miller Time more often every month.

3. Henrik Lundqvist – When you take into account his strenuous wide butterfly style, King Henrik is one of the most durable and steady goaltenders in the NHL. Those who see him mostconstantly rave about his big-save ability and he displayed tons of flair in a season plagued by frustrating one-goal losses. Owning Lundqvist brings managers so much confidence that they are rarely disappointed in a game that he loses. One reason I rank him higher than others is due to shot volume. He faced the third-most shots in the NHL last year at 2109, which was28.9 per game, but still posted a .921 save percentage (5th in NHL).


Why is he #3? Imagine his value if half of his one-goal losses from last season are converted into wins this season.

4. Martin Brodeur – Although I think the next two goalies below Brodeur play a more refined and effective style, you just can’t argue against the wizard. Behind strong team defense and potent offense, especially if Ilya Kovalchuk stays put, expect more of the same from Brodeur this season. Yes he’s a year older and a little more prone to aches and pains of a 75+ game schedule, but experience and genuine leadership counts more than skill. Just like Rask led the league in two key categories, Brodeur led the NHL in shutouts (9) and wins (45). But only 65% of his games (49 total) resulted in a .900 save percentage or better, giving him a .913 mark on the season, good enough for 13th overall.


Why is he #4? He’s on a defensive team and the most reliable, experienced and mentally tough goalie in the NHL.


5. Ilya Bryzgalov – The razor sharp Russian is coming off a true breakout season and established a dominant presence in the Phoenix crease. Behind a strong Dave Tippett defensive system, Bryzgalov cruised to many low-scoring wins on a consistent basis and posted a .900 save percentage or better in 73% of his games (50 total). Even when he was asked to stop more than 30 shots, he was there almost every single night. That compatibility is crucial in determining his fantasy value this season, as many goalies will struggle with their rhythm when facing a low volume of shots (see Cristobal Huet). Not so for Bryzgalov, as he is able to adjust and thrive in pressure-filled situations. He should experience another season of succulent statistical success.


Why is he #5? High value comes with Tippett’s territory, but he also has the elite technical skills to boot. All bases are covered.


6. Tomas Vokoun –With Miller stealing the show in the goalie department during the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vokoun (and Halak) was nipping at his heels the entire time. The silent assassin in the Southeast Division posted the NHL’s third-best save percentage (.925) and was fifth overall in shots against (2081). That averaged out to be 33 shots per game, which is a great number to pull in every 2-3 days.So he not only faces a ton of rubber and wins games single-handedly, but he’ll most likely be playing in front of a more competent team as well. I expect him to play even better in October compared to the last two seasons, as once again the elusive“strong start” is a self-proclaimed area of focus for him and his teammates.


Why is he #6? Has a very efficient shots-to-saves conversion rate and great mental toughness on a leaky defensive team.


7. Miikka Kiprusoff –Many fans might get frustrated with his nonchalant demeanor, but no matter how hard his pundits try, his fantasy value cannot be disproven. Despite Calgary’s failure to make the post-season, Kiprusoff was a bright spot for most of the season. He posted a .900 save percentage or higher in an impressive 72% of his games (51 out of 72) and in only 10 games did he post something below a .850 save percentage. That’s quite consistent for a team that missed the playoffs. With a .920 save percentage, 35 wins, four shutouts and a 2.31 goals against average, Kipper was very valuable across the fantasy board.


Why is he #7? His complacency could finally be eliminated thanks to Henrik Karlsson. Kipper should be on fire again this year.


8. Roberto Luongo –Although last season was filled with frustrating nights fighting off the puck and traffic in front of his net, Luongo persevered and still found a way to win at least 40 games. He had to hack his way through a lack of rhythm and the pressure of the Olympics, so it wasn’t always pretty to watch. Without the Olympics clouding his mind and Roli Melanson acting as his new full-time goalie coach, Luongo should have no problem shaving .25 off his goals-against average and improving on his .913 save percentage. He battled hard mentally and posted a .900 save percentage or higher in 65% of his games (43 total).


Why is he #8? The giant is under a lot less stress this season and will thrive in a more competitive tandem with Schneider.


9. Jaroslav Halak – Many of you will see Halak on this list and once discovering Jimmy Howard is not in the Top-10, instantly wonder why. But when you look at the likelihood of either goalie being more consistent or enduring more off-rhythm stretches, it’s hard to go someone who is so cool and composed under pressure. The Olympics, combined with what he had to go through in Montreal,proves Halak has been to hell and back. Solid steel is strengthened when forged in fire, so managers shouldfeel quite confident in his ability to play at least 60 games and still post similar (or better) stats as last season.


Why is he #9? Posted a .900 save percentage or higher in 29 of 45 games and flat out stole at least eight wins last year.


10. Pekka Rinne – Although he’s clearly an elite Finnish talent with great size, the question as to how he handles workhorse minutes will linger like stale firework smoke in the Nashville air. But Rinne’s potential is untapped. He was quietly very good in the playoffs against Chicago and similar to Rask in Boston, displayed mental toughness down the stretch to keep the Predators in the playoff hunt. He only posted a .900 save percentage or higher in 58% of his games, or 33 of 58. That’s well below the league average (around 65%), but 32 wins and a .911 save percentage overall can’t be overlooked heading into your draft.


Why is he #10? He still has untapped potential and a very solid combination of size, durability, skill and mental toughness.


The Next Five…


Here are the next five goalies to own, butI listed them below in alphabetical order. What do YOU think the ranking should be??


Craig Anderson – It will be extremely hard to match the same break-out run he put on display last season, but he’s still valuable in the workload, saves and save percentage categories. He is not a very polished goalie, but has great size and desire and plays the blocking style extremely well. He displayed awesome durability last season, but is expected to have a smaller workload this season. But with Brett Clark no longer blocking shots, he’ll probably face more shots per game than last year.


Marc-Andre Fleury – Although he backstops one of the most potent offenses in the league, he was very inconsistent last year. Other than logging 37 wins, the stats do not warrant Top-10 status. He only posted a .900 save percentage or better in Relies too much on skill, lacks mental toughness and is prone to inconsistency on an offensive-minded team.


Jimmy Howard –The sophomore jinx is more probably with Howard compared to Halak or Rask. As mentally tough as he is, his technique has a lot of refining to undergo and therefore doesn’t have the same untapped. Nevertheless, he still posted a .900 save percentage or better in a stunning 76% of his games, which tied Ryan Miller for second in the NHL.

Carey Price –Just like Halak is a legitimate young talent ready to play more NHL games than ever before, Price (still an RFA) is also quite capable of being a Top-10 one-year goalie as well. When you peel back the layers of all his frustrating losses, his record of 13-20-5 doesn’t explain how 63% of his games resulted in a .900 save percentage or higher (26 of 41 games).


Cam Ward–Never underestimate an elite talent with great size, plenty of experience and a Stanley Cup ring. It would help if he played in front of a better team, but if he stays healthy and continues to improve, it could easily be a Top-10 season for him. Despite his injury, he posted a .900 save percentage or higher in 65% of his games (30 of 47) and rarely had a weak outing.



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Rad64 said:

... Unfortunately, many managers overvalue Wins. Common problem when selecting goalies when using multiple categories. Big reason why Fleury is drafted way too high each year. He plain sucks in all cats except wins. Another reason why guys like Vokoun are drafted too low. Here is a tender that can win 3 of 4 cats against a guy like Fleury.
I don't believe Niemi or Nitty belong on this list...they are in a good position and would make great #2 tenders, but at this point in time they don't belong in the top 15. Both could lose starts to backups.
Loungo has also not posted the stellar stats serving of a #1 or #2 selection. Big fat contract has not paid off. He posted quite a few duds last season and still hasn't proven he can win the big games.
July 27, 2010
Votes: +0

duducks said:

... Great Article. I can't say I agree with everything, but if we all agreed it'd be hell-of-a boring.

After seeing Rask @ #1 I knew there'd be heat in the comments. My issue is more that it'd be poor draft strategy to take Rask as the first goalie in the draft, than it is a disagreement with you rating him as the best fantasy goalie.
I wouldn't give Rask consideration as being the first drafted goalie in a keeper league, let alone a one year. The chance of Rask having a poor season is greater than any other goalie in this top 10. Reasons for an off-season have been beaten already. Maybe the chance of having a great season is higher, but the top 5 goalies picked should be sure thing picks.

More of a surprise to me was Luongo way down at #8. Is my view of him as a top teir elite goalie way off? It wasn't too long ago he was a consensus top 5 pick (after big 3). Has he fallen this far down that he shouldn't even be picked in the top 2 rounds (10 team draft)??

I'd really love to hear more about Lu. I was pursuing a trade for him, but he'd probably be the most expensive goalie in my league to acquire, so I'd love to be convinced to take a cheaper option. I'm in a H2H Wins/GAA/SV% league.
July 27, 2010
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

Rask concern I'm willing to accept Rask as number one, on all the factors you raised, Justin, but for one concern: the sophomore slump.

Now, I don't believe the sophomore slump, for any player, is some kind of jinx or mystery. I think it's something explainable, and a combination of two factors.

One is that as a rookie, you fly under the radar. Teams don't prepare specifically for you. Opposing players take you for granted a little bit. But if you've had a strong rookie showing, next season opposing teams' scouts and coaches will work on how to solve you, and opposing players will be on their toes and at their sharpest playing against you.

The other is that oftentimes, without the burden of the highest expectations and the shorter leash that comes with them, rookies can just approach their games with a 'lets just enjoy the ride' attitude, which serves as a very strong psychological shield against pressures and obstacles. In your sophomore year you usually have much higher expectations (so the probability of facing adversity is heightened), and can't use that shield to protect yourself against their weight anymore (you have to face adversity eye to eye).

So my question is, what about Rask's game/mentality/situation should make us expect he can overcome both factors, or that these are non-factors in his case?
July 27, 2010
Votes: +1

Oilers rock 99 said:

Oilers rock 99
The draft Most fantasy drafts happen just before the season starts so by putting "the sharks " goalie only is to say that you have time to see who will be the guy as. Their is still some movement possible so if I were in a draft I would look at what team the guy plays for more so than the guy because the most important stat with goalies are always wins and the sharks caps and hawks are going to win their games.
July 27, 2010
Votes: +0

Vincent said:

Rask is #12 Is the stat SAVES included in the "common statistical categories" of a goalie in a H2H league?

Considering it is, my top 10 is:

1) Luongo (the safest bet)
2) Lundqvist (improved team, similar stats)
3) Miller (under Lundqvist because of change in defense)
4) Bryzgalov
5) Fleury (improved defense)
6) Brodeur
7) Kiprusoff
8-13) Anderson, Howard, Halak, Rinne, Rask, Price

If saves count, Rask is #12 because a 15-20% chance of playing only 50 games sucks!

And, Oilersrock99, I wait a little bit in the draft to pick a goalie that might play only 30-40 games, even if he starts the season in the net for one of the three best teams.
July 26, 2010
Votes: +2

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... @Oilers rock 99

If he put "Sharks goalie", "Philly goalie" and "Caps goalie" on his ranking, then it would look very amateur, like yours.
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

... You are not understanding the concept. Your list looks like the "Best 10 Goaltending Situations"

Sharks goalie... is not a specific goalie. This is a list of the top 10 GOALIES. Not top 10 teams.

July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Oilers rock 99 said:

Oilers rock 99
Just a Bit OUTSIDE!! a popular saying from a great baseball movie... just wondering if Washington has folded?? cause one would have to think that if Jose can have a record of 33 - 7 the starter there this year will probally do even better. second the wings will be healthy and lidstrom will have a bounce back season
so howard must be top 10

And correct me if I'm wrong last years 3 top teams you have ZERO goalies???

sharks, Hawks, caps, ???

Just wondering Justin when was the last time you won a hockey pool

MY list....

1. Miller
2. Brodeur
3. Caps goalie (Varly)
4. Nemmi
5. Fleury (have we forgot him?? or did sid go to the KHL)
6. Luongo
7. sharks Goalie
8. Howard
9. Philly goalie (possible the best defence in the NHL)
10.Ilya Bryzgalov ( really you could put about 3 guys here)

sorry justin you are way out on this one

July 26, 2010
Votes: -1

angus said:

... My list:

1. Luongo - entering prime, on team poised to win a lot over next 3-4 years.
2. Lundqvist - needs goal support
3. Miller - elite
4. Vokoun - once he is on a better team (when not if), you will see why. Golden second half goalie.
5. Kiprusoff
6. Brodeur
7. Rask
8. Halak
9. Rinne
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Brendan Connolly said:

Rankings Love the article Goldie, but I have to agree about Rask. While Tim Thomas is on the team I take Miller over him all day. I also would move Ward into the top ten and move Luongo up (and I'm a Flames fan). As for Rinne, I own him in my pool and would love for him to play 82 games. But Trots has never done anything to lead me believe that he plays more than 50-55 games this year. Lets not forget that Rinne and Ellis went game for game until Ellis laid a 7 goal egg. My top ten would look like this: Miller, Luongo, Brodeur, Lundquist, Rask, Bryzgalov, Ward, Kipper, Vokoun, and Fleury.
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Rad64 said:

Backstrom Any chance Backstrom rebounds from last years sub-par season?
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

mike hess said:

Price Thanks for the stats on Price. I kept wondering why some still think he is a number 1 goalie...you explained it with the stat. Thanks for the effort of giving us a tier one on goalies.
So how would you compare Price, S.Mason, Nittymaki, Elliot, Hiller, Backstrom, Vokuon and Quick; a second tier using a similiar statistical approach?
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

... Instant Classic,

That's not an out of line comment at all smilies/wink.gif I think it's fair to say that Thomas is still a great goalie, especially mentally. But I don't think Boston will have the luxury or reason to give him more than 20-25 games. Thomas is one year older and like a lot of goalies at that age, he is better when he's playing consistently.

Last year proved this perfectly, as slowly but surely he was too inconsistent, mainly because Rask was winning games and playing well enough to warrant more starts. Therefore their roles were basically flipped by the halfway point. With Rask heading into the season as the starter, Thomas just wont get enough games in to really play at his best. I'm not saying he's any less skilled of a goalie, I'm just saying that it's tough going from a starter to a backup and not getting the minutes. A perfect example of this was Chris Osgood last year behind Howard. Osgood was no less skilled, but he never got into a rhythm because Howard played so well.

I agree with you that Thomas will be the toughest to supress (Lalime, Biron, etc), but at the same time, Rask is plenty consistent enough to keep Thomas from getting 4-5 game streaks in a row. I know it's a cop-out to revert back to the 77% of games with .900 save percentage or above, but it was the best in the NHL and he has the skill to back up that consistency.

If you feel that Boston will be forced to play Thomas due to his salary and the fact Rask is still very young, then it's fair to not consider Rask as the #1. Nothing wrong with your reasoning at all! But that's why I feel Thomas won't play many games ... not because he won't get the opportunities, but because he won't obtain the rhythm needed to keep Rask on the bench =).

Hopefully that makes sense!
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

The Instant Classic said:

The Instant Classic
Rask @ #1? I feel out of line questioning your goalie ratings, since you're the expert, but I can't get past Rask at #1, to me, it seems like he has the most competition for playing time out of the top 5, with a guy like Tim Thomas waiting in the wings. It typically follows that people who are getting paid play and I know that wasn't always the case last year, but it seems reasonable to expect 35+ games from a guy getting paid that much in Boston this year, am I off base on this one? Tim Thomas is certainly more of a concern for me that any of the other backups in the top 5, for that reason, I have a hard time imagining Rask picking up the volume necessary to be the top goalie in fantasy.
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

bogans said:

Quick? Do you think that Bernier begins to take too many starts from Quick this year to put him in the top 10? If he has another year like last year, I would include him close to the top 5, that LA team is getting better and better defensively and they hve a potent offense as well.
July 26, 2010
Votes: +2

Patrick Nolan said:

... Without getting into to much detail, do you have a similar ranking but for a points only leage, 2W 3SO. Having to wait 5 more days for the guide is killing me smilies/smiley.gif
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0

GMGates / 'gatticus' said:

... Great article, another gem from the go-to goalie guy.

Goalies are my favorite part of fantasy hockey and your coverage is spot on.

Keep 'em coming!
July 26, 2010
Votes: +0
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