For today’s article I am going to focus on trying to help answer the age-old fantasy hockey question of “where do I slot a top end goalie into my draft board”. I have written before about how important the goaltending position is and also about just how unpredictable it is. With that in mind I am going to profile the best in the business at providing stability and value for your goaltending position: Henrik Lundqvist.
Let’s take a look at King Henrik’s remarkable output over the years:
You can see above that Henrik has been incredibly consistent over his career. In the past six season he has:
- Never had less than 35 wins
- Never had a GAA over 2.5
- Improved his sv% for four straight seasons
- Averaged 69 GPs per year
This kind of consistency is nearly unheard of for a goaltender.
Not only are Lundqvist’s numbers consistent, but they are consistently elite. So what kind of value does an elite goalie have in fantasy hockey and how do I go about valuing an elite goalie in comparison to elite forwards or defensemen? This is an incredibly tough question to answer as it is a very apples-to-oranges scenario (how can I compare 40 wins to 50 goals?). Thankfully we have Fantasy Hockey Geek to help us to understand the value between positions that measure different stats.
Let’s run the numbers through FHG to see what kind of value Lundqvist provided in a Yahoo! standard league last year:
(Yahoo! standard 12 team H2H league G,A,+/-,PPP,PIM,SOG, W, Sv%, GAA, SO)
From the chart above, you can see that Lundqvist was the 5th most valuable player in a league of this format last year. Even more notable are a couple of the names that he was slightly above. So why is Lundqvist’s value so high? There are a couple of reasons:
Amongst goalies with over 40 starts, Lundqvist was 3rd in wins, 2nd in shutouts, 1st in Sv% and 2nd in GAA. He was top 3 in all categories that are measured for goalies! Can you imagine how valuable a forward who was top 3 in the league in Goals, Assists, SOG and PPP would be?
Consider this: Stamkos was 1st in goals scored last year, but he was 5th in shots, 13th in PPP and 49th in assists. Stamkos is a phenomenal player and a great fantasy own but in terms of value at his position, he falls short of what Lundqvist provides.
Lundqvist’s value relative to his position more closely mirrors Malkin’s production from last year when Malkin was 2nd in goals, 3rd in assists, 1st in shots and 2nd in PPP. That comparison alone should tell you a great deal about Lundy’s value.
I know I harp on this point a lot, but goalies matter a lot. In a league of this set-up, goalies account for 40% of the scoring categories and 17% of your active roster. If your goalies are bad, you aren’t going to win your pool. It’s that simple.
Compounding goalie importance is their scarcity. Obviously each NHL team can only start one goalie at a time. There are 30 NHL teams and a fantasy league of the format above has 24 goalie roster spots, meaning that 80% of NHL starting goalies are on starting fantasy rosters. By comparison, if each NHL team starts 4 centers then there are 120 centers to choose from. A typical fantasy league might only rosters 24 centers – which equates to the top 20% of centers being used in the NHL.
Moreover, of those 30 NHL teams, only 13 had a goalie who they relied on for 60 or more starts last year which makes goalies like Lundy, who consistently get the starts, extremely important.
I alluded to this point earlier, but Lundqvist’s numbers are incredibly consistent at a position that is historically inconsistent. I don’t have to explain the numbers any further for you to know what kind of output you are getting when you draft Lundy. With other goalies, it isn’t as cut and dry: look below at some examples of recent drop-offs by some of the most elite goalies in the game in the very next season following a stellar performance:
Imagine how high these guys would have been drafted in the year following their “great season”? Now imagine how crippled your fantasy team would have been if you drafted them in the first or second round. That’s the beauty of Lundqvist, you can spend a high pick on him and know that you are getting what you paid for.
So where do I draft him?
Typically in my Geek of the Week articles, I try to identify a player who provides high end value that you can get later in the draft. With Lundqvist though, my recommendation is to take him where he is valued. FHG calculates that he was the 5th most valuable player last year and that’s where I would suggest getting him. When I am drafting, I personally never like to “chase”. If the first 4 picks are the best 4 forwards, then I don’t want to be the guy taking the 5th best. I would much rather have the best player available at another position. King Henrik is a perfect example of how you can do that. If you pull a mid-first round draft position, I would target Henrik.
What if I miss on Henrik?
Obviously, you are not going to be the only one at a draft table who wants King Henrik on your team. Whether or not you get him will largely depend on where you landed in the draft order. If you miss on Henrik then where you will want to slot other goalies into your draft order will depend on your league set-up and how the other GMs are drafting. I am in a points only league where 15 of the top 20 valued players are goalies. In most leagues, it isn’t weighted quite so heavily towards goalies but the elite, consistent goaltenders usually come out near the top.
To find out where goalies should slot in on your draft board, sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek and enter in your league settings to see how goalies’ values compares to skaters’ values. When you sign up for FHG, you can even choose an option to use Dobber’s projected stats (as opposed to last year’s stats) when determining the values. Dobber’s projections actually have a goalie not named Lundqvist as the number one most valuable player in the Yahoo! standard league I detailed above!
Previous posts from Terry Campkin: