Goaltenders in Fantasy Hockey are the equivalent to playing in a Fantasy Football league in which you can start two quarterbacks. In Fantasy Hockey, an overwhelming majority of leagues start two goalies. In rotisserie leagues, goaltenders can account for up to half of the categories, so it behooves you to get at least one top goaltender and a second one that you can trust. The good news is that while there may be no more than one or two truly elite goaltenders, the position (like QB) is very deep and runs 17-18 strong. With goal scoring at a premium in the NHL, I’m probably still taking a forward in the first round but I will look at a goaltender immediately after that. With that in mind, here’s a look at goaltenders for 2017-18
Be sure to check out George Kurtz’ other positional rankings and Top 200.
- Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: While Price is one of those truly elite goaltenders, he did struggle at times last season, and the Canadiens defense is still very much a work in progress. He may see more rubber than he is used to.
- Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals: We all know the story with Washington. They are a great regular season team but struggle in the playoffs. The Caps aren’t as deep as they have been in season’s past, so that regular season dominance could take a bit of a hit, but not enough to remove Holtby from the number two spot on this list.
- Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins: It should be interesting to see what Murray will do now that he doesn’t have a safety net behind him in Marc-Andre Fleury (Las Vegas). Murray looks like a top-notch goaltender for a top-notch team, but one must wonder how he will handle the full load of being the starter over an entire season.
- Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets: He had a career year last season for an up and coming team. I’d like to see him do it for a second consecutive season before drafting him this high, but there is little doubt that the talent is there.
- John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: Gibson plays for a team that preaches defense first and plays a strong defensive system. The only worry will be his inability to stay healthy for months at a time. The addition of Ryan Miller as the backup could scare owners as well. Miller is likely to play more games than your typical second-string net minder.
- Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: He doesn’t get the love of some other goaltenders but he is about as consistent as they come. The Hawks may not be the powerhouse they once were but they are still a formidable team, and wins should be aplenty.
- Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers: He played in a whopping 73 games last season. We haven’t seen this kind of usage of a goaltender since that was the normal thing 15-20 years ago. Fantasy owners may like this, but logic tells you that Talbot will wear down as the season moves along and the chances for injuries will increase if they maintain his workload.
- Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues: Allen had a resurgence last season after coach Ken Hitchcock was let go. That may have just been a coincidence, as Allen admits he also had a newborn at this time and wasn’t getting much sleep. Either way, he showed in the playoffs what kind of goaltender he can be.
- Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks: The Sharks are still a good team. Jones should reap the benefits of playing behind an offense that will usually give three-plus goals per game.
- Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild: When you look at Dubnyk’s final numbers over the past two seasons, you’ll see he has posted a GAA of 2.29 and a save percentage of .921. What’s worrisome is that his play has taken a drastic downturn over the last 6-8 weeks of the season each year. Perhaps the Wild need to consider giving him rest more often during the season.
- Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: This ranking doesn’t have as much to do with Quick as much as it has to do with the team. Can they score enough goals to make Quick and Los Angeles relevant in the Western Conference once again? I have my doubts.
- Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: Don’t get fooled by name value here. Yes, Lundqvist is a future Hall of Famer but his play has slipped of late. I worry that the Rangers won’t give him the rest he needs because they no longer have an A1 backup. He’s still a G1, but not one you want to take in the first couple of rounds.
- Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: Rinne may have led the Predators to the Stanley Cup finals last season, but let’s not forget that he was almost replaced as the starter during the regular season. I do hate to leave him out of G1 status, though, because that defense is legit and should make any goaltender valuable in Fantasy.
- Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars: The signing of Bishop is good for Dallas as it finally gives them a true number one goalie, but it’s bad for Fantasy owners. Dallas still has a below average defense and their run and gun style of play doesn’t bode well for your ratios when it comes to the goaltender position.
- Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: Defense is so important when it comes to goaltending and Boston is trying to build a good one, but it’s young, and may not be ready for prime time this season. You know something is wrong when you’re still relying on Zdeno Chara to be your number one shutdown defender. Rask has plenty of talent, but he’s mid-tier G2 until that defense matures.
- Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs: Andersen doesn’t have a defense like the one he had while playing in Anaheim, but this is a young and improving team that wants to win and will add the pieces it deems necessary to do so.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning believe in Vasilevskiy enough that they traded away Bishop. You should always worry about a goaltender who will be a full-time starter for the first time in his career. The talent is there, but there will likely be some bumps in the road.
- Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils: If Schneider had a better team around him, he would easily be half a dozen spots higher; but he doesn’t, and this is where he falls.
- Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators: Anderson was one of the feel-good stories of last season, as he had to deal with his wife’s cancer treatment, which caused him to leave the team several times. This season, will hopefully be a better one health-wise for the Anderson family, but it doesn’t change his ranking all that much.
- Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers: Luongo is likely to end up in the Hall of Fame once his playing career is over. Florida is a better team than they showed last season, but injuries and age are likely to slow Luongo down once again.
- Brian Elliott, Philadelphia Flyers: This will be Elliott’s third team in three seasons and also the one with the biggest question marks on defense (St. Louis/Calgary). I see Elliott as more of a goaltender who should share the number one job, and not one that should have it outright.
- Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres are an improved team but not likely to be a playoff contender, not yet anyway.
- Mike Smith, Calgary Flames: The trade from Arizona to Calgary should improve his Fantasy value and we also should find out if it was the play of the Coyotes or Smith’s talent that kept him down.
- Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders: The Islanders’ stubbornness and unwillingness to recall Halak from the AHL last season played a huge role in the team missing the playoffs. It’s not that he is the answer to their problems in net, but he’s the best they have. Thomas Greiss is nothing more than a very good backup.
- Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: The Wings were great for a long time but that is not the case now and I doubt that have seen the last of Petr Mrazek.
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