The goaltender is probably the most important position in hockey and quite possibly in sports in general. When picking your goalie (or goalies) it is important to look at many factors, such as playing time, wins, shutouts, Save Percentages (SV%) and Goals Against Average(GAA). You need to make sure to get a top goalie in the first 5 picks of your draft in order to have a solid foundation for your pool. A great goalie can often times vault you from mediocre to dominating in a short time frame, so picking the goalie that will perform the best is key.
The issue with that position is, the performance of the goaltender is often tied to the team he plays for. So if the goaltender does well, generally so too will the team in question. Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens is probably the best example. If he does well, the Canadiens will generally be in a playoff position despite a putrid roster. When picking a goalie, always keep the team in mind, as it could often make or break your hockey pool. Let`s dive right into who you should pick for your hockey pool.¸
Choosing Your Rock
Picking your first goalie is all about picking a player that will hold down the fort. You want to look at how these goalies have done over time and how they’ve improved. At the top of my list you will find Andrei Vasilevski for Tampa Bay, Pekka Rinne for Nashville, Sergei Bobrovsky for Columbus and Frederick Andersen for Toronto. With the exception of Bobrovsky in Columbus, the other goalies here play for a powerhouse team and have a high amount of wins per season in consequence. Pekka Rinne had the highest percentage of Wins Per Games Played, as he won 71% of his games last year. These guys will be good for 50-60 starts in the year and about 40 wins, which is huge in your pool. Each has had consistent success in garnering shutouts,as each posted a minimum of 5 shutouts last year. All these netminders have a save percentage above .915, which is excellent considering the increase in goals last season. You can`t go wrong with any of these 5 goalies here.
If you are lucky enough to have a pool with more than one goalie, this is where it becomes fun. This is where you can take a gamble on an up and coming goalie that doesn’t have much experience like Connor Hellebuyck, Matt Murray or John Gibson. These are guys that have risen to the top of the mountain on their respective teams, but don’t have enough of precedence to be selected with one of the first 5 picks in your fantasy pool. These guys, in my estimation, will continue to improve on their stats, while also having a very impressive team in front of them. Keep in mind that Hellebuyck led the NHL in wins in 2017-2018, his first season as a #1 goalie.
Other goalies worth gambling on, due to lack of consistent success or injuries, are Jonathan Quick, Carey Price, Brayden Holtby and Marc-André Fleury. These are guys that can carry a team(pun intended Habs fans) on their shoulders and into the playoffs. These are goalies who, when on their game, can record wins and shutouts. Quick and Price have both had serious injuries in the past that have kept them out for seasons, so that is worth noting. Holtby was incredibly inconsistent last year, despite winning the Stanley Cup. Marc-Andre Fleury has a lot to live up to, based on his god-like play last year, but he should be up to the challenge in our opinion.
The Last Resort
These are goalies who have proven to do well in the right situation, that could provide the necessary points needed to really get you over the hump. Guys like Devan Dubnyk, Tuuka Rask, Jake Allen, Martin Jones, Ben Bishop and Antti Raanta. These are guys that can get hot at any point and go on an absolute tear. Bishop used to be a fantasy darling when he played in Tampa Bay, while Raanta had the best 2nd half of the 2017-2018 season out of all goalies in the NHL. Tuuka Rask is a former Vezina winner, while the other players all play on solid teams with good defensemen. These are certainly guys I would consider as my 2nd or 3rd picks in any pool.
The Value Picks
Now that we have discussed how to pick a goalie, the criteria changes dramatically when you start to impose a Salary Cap. As of this moment, the best value picks for goaltenders are Gibson ($2.3 million), Vasilevski ($3.5 million) and Matt Murray ($3.75 million). These three goalies will get you north of 35 wins and a few shutouts a year now that they’ve established themselves as #1 Goalies on playoff teams.
The next batch of strong, cost-effective goaltenders are Ben Bishop ($4.9 million), Antti Raanta ($4.25 million), Jake Allen ($4.35 million) and Devan Dubnyk ($4.66 million). Each of these goalies are clear-cut #1 goaltenders for their respective teams, and put up impressive numbers last season. Perhaps another darkhorse to consider is the new heir apparent in goal for the Colorado Avalanche, Filip Grubauer ($3.3 million) should be taking over full time duties from Varlamov by the end of the season.
What About Rookies?
There doesn’t appear to be any goaltending rookies ready to become full-fledged #1 goalies this year. There are a few prospects to keep your eye on for future fantasy pools like Washington’s Ilya Samsonov and Philadelphia’s Carter Hart, but they’re likely two years away from full-time duty. They could always surprise, especially Carter Hart, but they likely play in the AHL an extra year or so before making the jump full time.
That concludes our analysis of goaltenders for you folks. This should be enough for you to be able to choose the best possible goaltenders depending on the rules of your pool. If you need any other tips for forwards or defensemen, Scrimmage and Stats has you covered too. Check out these links to get the best advice on how to win your pool this year!
For a full a full Hockey Pool guide (Forwards, Defensemen and Goalies), click here!