We all are in agreement that the best goalies to own next season are Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur. We can also agree that there is a second tier that would include Miikka Kiprusoff, Marty Turco, Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist. From that point, there are a handful of goaltenders who will give you solid fantasy numbers – to the extent that they could perform just as well as anyone in that second tier. These goaltenders include Tomas Vokoun, Rick DiPietro, Ray Emery, J-S Giguere (wherever he goes), Evgeni Nabokov, Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Ward.
There is another one you should add to the list. In fact, you can stick him in the group of second-tier netminders. He’ll be that good.
Manny Legace is not heralded as one of the great goaltenders in the game. He was 19th in goals against average, 23rd in save percentage and his 23 wins were the 26th most in the league. Not exactly screaming ‘top 10 fantasy goalie’, right?
But consider, new coach Andy Murray has a reputation for his team playing solid defense. Also consider that the team’s best offensive players are Doug Weight and Brad Boyes – two guys who fell short of 60 points last year. At 36, Weight is probably not going to bounce back. While Boyes might, it is a lot to expect him to do a lot more than 65 on this team. Lee Stempniak looked good at the World Championships and is coming off a 52-point season, but again 65 points would be a stretch for him.
Granted, the Blues will add a 65-point winger to the lineup via free agency, but the bottom line is – this team will struggle to score goals and they will be one of only a handful of teams without a 70-point player.
On the other hand, their defensemen include rookie sensation Erik Johnson, Eric Brewer, Christian Backman, Barret Jackman and a finally healthy shot blocker in Jay McKee. All good coaches go with their strengths and Andy Murray is a good coach. The Blues’ strength is in their rearguards.
The entire system in which St.Louis will play this season will revolve around their defense corps. Offensive rushes will be stopped at the blue line. Rebounds will be cleared from in front of the net – and that’s assuming that a shot gets through the shot blockers. Wingers will have a difficult time planting themselves in front of the St. Louis net. All the while, the team will wait for the opponent to make a mistake and they will capitalize.
A lot of 1-0 games will be won.
Enter Manny Legace. He will be the recipient of 20 or 25 shots per game. Most of them will be seen from a mile away and few will be rebounds. His numbers will be absolutely stellar.
Will he face competition for the No.1 role from Curtis Sanford? No. Even if Sanford is healthy, which is rare, he will not threaten the No.1 job. Legace locked that up when he went 18-5-3 between December 16 and February 20.
He responded to Andy Murray’s system. During that span, he turned his 88.4 SV% to 90.7 and his 3.37 GAA to 2.59.
That is the kind of goaltending that you can expect from the 34-year-old Legace next season and those are the kinds of numbers that you will see.