By David Satriano
Whether you’ve already done your fantasy draft or are doing it this weekend, The Hockey Program has got all you need to know in the new weekly fantasy goalie column, “The Net Effect”. With the shortened season, it is especially critical to draft the right goalies, and to do your research and know which teams could develop into time-shares. Here’s our take on each team and it’s goalie situation:
Mike Smith, Coyotes- He never got going in Tampa Bay when given the chance, but his first year in Phoenix was a different story. Smith recorded 38 wins, eight shutouts and a .930 save percentage last season, and there’s no reason to expect a dropoff from those numbers (minus the wins obviously in the shortened season.
Jonathan Quick, Kings- The Conn Smythe winner and 2012 Vezina finalist, Quick somehow managed to play better during the Kings’ playoff run than he did during a stellar regular season. He did have off-season back surgery which would have kept him out for the start of the season had it started on time, but the lockout allowed him to rest and heal. Expect another Vezina-like season from Quick, who should see a bulk of the action for the Kings, with Jonathan Bernier only getting a handful of starts.
Pekka Rinne, Predators- He led the league in wins last season with 43 while starting 72 games. Given the shortened season, he’s probably a lock to play at least 40 games, and while the goals against may be higher than last season (2.39), Rinne is still one of the top five goalies to own.
Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers- He has always been near the top of the list of elite goalies, and winning his first Vezina helped cement his case as the league’s best netminder. His 1.97 goals against average was tied for fourth, .930 save percentage was tied for third and his 39 wins ranked third. Lunqvist also never gets injured, and adding a scorer like Rick Nash should definitely give him more of a cushion to work with on most nights. Backup Martin Biron did appear in a quarter of the teams' games last season, but a well-rested Lundqvist means maybe five starts for Biron, barring an injury to King Henrik.
Ryan Miller, Sabres- True, he played fewer games than he had in three seasons (61) and he hasn't performed at his 2009-2010 status when he was 41-18-8 with a 2.22 goals against average and a .929 save percentage winning the Vezina and the MVP of the Winter Olympics backstopping team USA to a silver medal. The shortened season should allow him to take on a bigger chunk of the work, with backup Jhonas Enroth not opening any eyes.
Tuukka Rask, Bruins- In 2009-10, Rask was 22-11-5 with a 1.97 goals against average, a .931 save percentage and five shutouts. Since then, he's played in fewer games in each season, but the numbers have been good, and he's now the No. 1 guy with Tim Thomas sitting out a year. Anton Khudobin has only played seven career NHL games in three seasons, so Rask is a great play. But then again, no one thought Rask would supplant Thomas (the reigning Vezina winner) when he took over in 2009, so anything is possible...
Martin Brodeur, Devils- The Future first ballot Hall of Famer, 40, started 59 games last season, while back up Johan Hedberg (no spring chicken either at 39) started 23 games. Brodeur led the Devils on a deep playoff run, showing he still has something left in the tank. The shutouts have dipped in each of the past three seasons, but the save percentage and goals against were adequate. With plenty of rest, Brodeur could start at a 75-25 ratio over Hedberg. New Jersey does have 10 sets of back-to-back games, so expect Brodeur to sit out many of those second-halfs.
Miikka Kiprussoff, Flames- He’s played in 70-plus games each of the last seven seasons, posting 35 or more wins in each of them. That’s the model of consistency, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is one of the top netminders this season. But the shutouts are low, and the losses are high. Still waiting for the 2005-06 Vezina winner to resurface.
Cam Ward, Hurricanes- has been a top goalie in five of his last six seasons. Sure, the 2.74 goals against average last season was high, but he always has a high save percentage and a handful of shutouts. Dan Ellis was brought in as a veteran backup but it was probably done more as an insurance policy, as I don't think he will challenge Ward for the job.
Marc Andre Fleury, Penguins- had a career-high 42 wins last season and his goals-against average (2.36) and save percentage (.913) were above his career averages. Over the last few seasons, he has shown he is a bona-fide No. 1 fantasy goalie. This season, his backup is free agent pickup Tomas Vokoun, who could steal some of those starts- reportedly between 15 and 22 games according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Jimmy Howard, Redwings- Last year he was very good (35-17-4, 2.12 GAA, .920 SV%, 6 SO). The two previous years, he won 37 games each season, had a little higher of a goals against average and five shutouts combined. But since taking over as the Wings main netminder, he has been one of the best in the league. He has a new backup in Jonas Gustavsson who has experience but has yet to prove he’s more than just a backup.
Antii Niemi, Sharks- He’s kind of been forgotten with all the other good goalies in the league, but Niemi had another fine season last year (34-22-9, 2.42 GAA, .915 SV%, 6SO). Might not be one of the top five goalies in the league, but is definitely in the top ten.
Avalanche- Semyon Varlamov was the primary backstopper for the Avs last season and was serviceable. But Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who only started 30 games put up the better numbers, including a 2.28 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. This has time share (for now) written all over it, but don’t be surprised if Giggy takes the reigns.
Blackhawks- Corey Crawford usurped Marty Turco as the teams’ starter two season ago, winning 33 games. Last year, he followed that up with 30 wins and a higher goals against average, a lower save percentage and didn’t record a shutout. Ray Emery, his backup played 34 games and did decently, so this could turn into a time-share if Crawford struggles, as he did in the middle of last season.
Blues- They were one of last seasons surprise teams and did so splitting time between Brian Elliot (38 games, 23-10-4, 1.56 GAA, .940 SV%, 9 SO) and Jaroslav Halak (46 games, 26-12-7, 1.97 GAA, .926 SV%, 6 SO). They have 10 sets of back-to-back games but that might not be a factor in how many starts each one gets. Both are solid plays, but my gut says Elliot has the better shot to put up the better numbers (in particular, shutouts and goals against average) in the shortened season, even if he gets fewer starts than Halak.
Canucks- Roberto Luongo is owned is 89% of Yahoo! leagues, and there was speculation he might be traded to Toronto, or elsewhere. But let's assume that isn't the case right away. He will be the backup to Cory Schneider, who played more down the stretch, even taking over for a faltering Luongo in the playoffs. Schneider is the guy to have. Luongo will see some time, but it might not even be 20-25 games unless he gets traded.
Capitals- An interesting situation, new head coach Adam Oates said both Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby will play a lot. Neuvirth was so-so (13-13-5, 2.82 GAA, .903 SV%), while Holtby only made six starts, but he turned it up a notch in the playoffs despite a 7-7 record (1.95 GAA, .935 SV%) and was so close to leading the Caps to the Eastern Conference finals. That being said, I think Holtby is the guy to own here, because he will probably see more action, and will probably put up the better numbers.
Carey Price, Canadiens- Price started 72 games in 2010-2011, posting a 38-28-6 record with a 2.35 goals against average, a .923 save percentage and eight shutouts. Those numbers dipped last season to 65 games, an sub-par 26-28-11 record, 2.43 goals against average, .916 save percentage and only four shutouts. I'd expect the numbers to be closer to last years totals than those of two years ago when he was
one of the better netminders in the league. And with his newly-signed six-year deal, he should definitely see most of the action even if he struggles. Backup Peter Budaj has had one good season in his career, and that was five seasons ago.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Flyers- (33-16-7, 2.48 GAA, .909 SV%) was a solid fantasy starter last season, even notching six shutouts. But his failure in the playoffs (a .887 save percentage and a 3.46 goals against average, while allowing three or more goals in ten of his 11 starts) have put him on the hot seat. The problem is, backup Michael Leighton showed how good he can be, going 16-5-2 when the Flyers made the Finals in 2010, and former Flyers stud Brian Boucher who is now with the Flyers' minor league club and could see some playing time. At this point, I think Bryzgalov will get the bulk of the starts, but none of the three should be drafted as your first or second-string options.
Evgeni Nabakov, Islanders- New York used five goalies last season, and it's a sure bet that they'll use at least three this season, since now backup Rick DiPietro is sure to find some way to get hurt. He played in eight games last season (3-2-3, 3.73 GAA, .876 SV%) and should not be drafted in ANY formats. Now that we got that out of the way, starter Nabakov (19-18-3, 2.55 GAA, .914 SV%) is a middle-of-the-pack goalie who is more of a backup goalie.
Ondrej Pavelec, Jets- Pavelec isn't the best, but he's a starter, so he has that going for him. He should only be used as a backup in fantasy leagues. His backup, Al Montoya did appear in 31 games for the Islanders last season but a goals agianst average over 3.00 and a save percentage under .900 suggest avoiding him if you want to win your leagues.
Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, Panthers- both return to man the nets for the Panthers. Theodore was the better of the two last season (22-16-11, 2.46 GAA, .917 SV%), but Clemmensen was a solid backup, and that's what he will be again this season. Theodore is a good No. 2 fantasy goalie, Clemmensen is more of an insurance policy.
Craig Anderson, Senators- will be hard-pressed to match last seasons output (33-22-6, .914SV%) but he is the starter for the Senators. Backup Ben Bishop played well in Anderson's absence last season, and could challenge him eventually. But this isn't a time share right now: It's Anderson's job to lose.
Kari Lehtonen, Stars- was solid (32-22-4, 2.33 GAA, .922 SV%, 4SO) and is set to be the Stars starter again. He’ll be a good teacher for rookie Christopher Nihlstorp, who was just named as the Stars’ backup goalie.
Niklas Backstrom, Wild– He started 71 games in 2008-09, but his highest total since is 58. This indicates he isn’t likely to play an extreme amount of games, even in the shortened season. He should pick up a few more wins with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on the team. Backup Josh Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but it shouldn’t affect his game and he’s probably one of the better backups in the league.
Draft at own risk:
Blue Jackets- Newly-acquired Sergei Bobrovsky will start the season as the main netminder, but Steve Mason is certainly lurking. Mason, the former Calder trophy winner, has been downright awful in his three seasons since, posting a goals against average over 3.00 and no save percentage above .901. He’s also only had eight combined shutouts, after having 10 his rookie season. The loss of Rick Nash certainly doesn’t help the anemic offense. Bobrovsky was with the Flyers last year (14-10-2, 3.02 GAA, .899 SV%) but his numbers make it clear he doesn’t have a stranglehold on that No. 1 job.
Ducks- Jonas Hiller has no competition right now, as backup Frederik Anderson is a rookie and may not even be on the roster for long if Anaheim signs a proven backup. Hiller started 73 games last season, which tied for the league high. As long as his health is fine (he had a vertigo scare two seasons ago), he is definitely a guy who you know will start, but he only had 29 wins last year (and 42 losses).
Lightning- Traded for Anders Lindback in the offseason. He only appeared in 16 games for the Predators, but appears to be the starter right now for the Lightning. With a good offense, Lindback could be in for some extra wins. Mathieu Garon started 44 games for the Lightning last season (23-16-4, 2.85 GAA, .901 SV%), and I wouldn't be surprised if this became a time share in the shortened season.
Maple Leafs- With no Roberto Luongo (yet?) who starts for the Leafs? The candidates are James Reimer, who was just mediocre (14-14-4, .900 SV%, 3.10 GAA) and Ben Scrivens (4-5-2, .903 SV%, 3.13 GAA). Both had almost identical stats, but reports out of Toronto are that Reimer has looked rusty and Scrivens has looked sharper in camp. The team hasn't even announced who will start its opening game this weekend. This is probably heading towards a time share, and with neither having good stats combined with the fact that the Leafs haven't made the playoff since 2004, I'd stay away from either of them.
Oilers- Devan Dubnyk was a .500 goalie last season playing in 47 games. But his backup, Nikolai Khabibulin is just 22-52-11 over the past two seasons, so he is definitely not worthy of owning. It seems as if the Oilers get new young talent every year, but still can’t get anything going during the season.
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