Fantasy Hockey Preview: Goalies

Goalies are a major part in a team’s success not only in hockey, but fantasy hockey as well. It is key to keep a close eye on goalies around the National Hockey League in case a “sleeper” becomes available.

As fantasy hockey drafts are starting to be scheduled, one has to be prepared for it so they can come out of it with the best squad. Goalies may be the most important part of a team’s success.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, gets set for an incoming puck.

Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers is the number one goalie, yet again, entering the 2012-13 fantasy hockey season. Lundqvist is surrounded by good talent and is very consistent night-in and night-out. He is one of the safest picks in fantasy hockey.

Last season, Lundqvist led is team to an incredible regular season run by finishing first in the Eastern Conference with 109 points, just two points shy of winning the President’s Trophy given out to the team with the most points in the season. Also, “King Henrik” led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals where they were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils in six games.

Lundqvist is an excellent butterfly goalie that likes to stay deep in his crease. Because of his size, he is able to get away with it.

Expect Henrik Lundqvist to play in between 60-65 games this season. Veteran back-up goalie Martin Biron will be getting playing time ever so often to allow Lundqvist to stay “fresh”.

Jonathan Quick of the LA Kings ranks second in fantasy hockey goalies.
Jonathan Quick of the reigning Stanley Cup Champions Los Angeles Kings is ranked second. Many have Quick ranked third, and even first! Quick knows what it takes to win games and stop pucks even when his team isn’t scoring. In the majority of last season, the Kings were leaving Quick out to dry every night, but he was able to stand up to the task.

Quick plays a different game than most goalies. As many noticed during the Kings’ Stanley Cup run, NBC analysts were constantly showing Quick being a “spider”, looking under defensemen’s legs and staying low to the ice surface.

That type of game doesn’t work for most goalies because it leaves their five-hole open often, but it works well for him because he is so quick, no pun intended.

Jonathan Quick will be the starter going into next season, but with Jonathan Bernier as a very capable back-up, he could surprise a lot of people. Expect to see Quick in 60-70 games this season if he plays as well as last season.

At number three in the list is Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne. For Nashville Predators fans, Rinne is a treat to watch every night. He is best-known for his incredible glove hand. Rinne is arguably the most skilled goalie in the world. 

Pekka Rinne led his team last season to a fourth place finish in the Western Conference. Afterwards, the Predators and Rinne faced-off against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarter Finals, where they won on home-ice in a surprisingly five games. However, they didn’t go far after that and lost to the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Veteran goalie Chris Mason will backup Rinne throughout the season. In signing Mason, that will limit the star goalie’s playing time in order to give him some rest. Instead of 72 games like last season, expect Rinne to play anywhere from 65-70 games this season.

Those are the top three goalies in the National Hockey League for fantasy hockey. Not surprisingly, those three were Vezina Trophy — a trophy given to the best goalie in the NHL — finalists.

The rest of the top 10 are as follows:

4. Mike Smith – Phoenix Coyotes. Projects 60-70 starts this season. Smith showed tremendous potential in the later part of the season and during the playoffs.
Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings tracks a puck in Pregame Skate.
5. Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins. Projects 60-65 starts this season. Fleury has good surrounding talent to allow him to put up nice numbers and succeed.

6. Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings. Projects 65-70 starts this season. Howard, when healthy, is a solid option to have as goalie on a fantasy hockey team. However, his injury history and the lack of a supporting cast made by the Red Wings moves him out of the top five.

7. Jaroslav Halak – St. Louis Blues. Projects 50-55 starts this season. Halak would be in the top five, but because he “shares” the net with Brian Elliot, it drops him down a bit fantasy wise.

8. Corey Schneider – Vancouver Canucks. Projects 50-55 stars this season. Schneider has basically been awarded the job in British Columbia with the Canucks trying to trade Roberto Luongo. Drafting Schneider could be a risk because fans have yet to see Schneider play night-after-night as a starter in the NHL. It is a high risk, high reward situation.

9. Cam Ward – Carolina Hurricanes. Projects 65-70 starts this season. The Carolina Hurricanes have put Ward in a comfortable situation by giving him a solid supporting cast.

10. Ryan Miller – Buffalo Sabres. Projects 60-70 starts this season. Many fantasy experts have had him ranked in the top three goalies every year, but not this season. Miller is starting to get older and it is starting to show.

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