Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheets: Workhorse goalies vs. 1a/1b rotations

jonashillertakesadrink.jpgWhile Pro Hockey Talk doesn’t specialize in fantasy hockey (our Rotoworld cousins do, though), we still think that there are areas where we can help you, the budding imaginary general managers. For that reason, we’re going to discuss different philosophies, strategies and cheat sheets as fantasy drafts begin to increase around North America.

Previous entries: Penalty Minutes, Faceoff winners, Shots on Goal leaders, Hits leaders, Blocked shots.

Today’s entry: Goalie tandems vs. workhorse goalies

Drafting a goalie is trickier than most people think. One of the biggest reasons why it’s a tough choice is because the position is often very fluid. Not every netminder can approach Martin Brodeur’s mind blowing consistency; just look at Steve Mason’s about-face in the 2009-10 season for an example of the volatility in net.

Ultimately, it’s all about bang for the buck. If you’re going to draft a goalie early, make sure that person will be likely to keep the starting job and be worth the pick. Much like running backs in the NFL, 1a/1b situations often benefit their teams but hurt fantasy owners. To clear up these problems, I thought I’d give my best guess on which duos are near-equal and which goalies should rack up the games played.

Keep in mind this is subjective and subject to change.

Anaheim: Jonas Hiller is the clear starter.

For years, the Ducks had steady competition whether it was Jonas Hiller, J.S. Giguere or Ilya Bryzgalov playing the role of backup. The good news is that Hiller is the clear starter … the bad news is that their defense is awful.

Atlanta: Chris Mason is likely the starter.

Mason should take on the No. 1 job, but Ondrej Pavelec could make things interesting.

Thumbnail image for raskybizness.jpgBoston: Tuukka Rask is likely the starter.

Still, Rask is a risky pick. When you have a $5 million backup in Tim Thomas, chances are you might want to give him every chance to reveal is value.

Buffalo: Ryan Miller is the clear starter.

I’m not so sure that Miller will be the best goalie in the NHL again, but if he’s healthy, he should get a ton of starts.

Calgary: Miikka Kiprusoff is the clear starter.

He might not always put up the best numbers, but he should push 70 GP like usual.

Carolina: Cam Ward is the clear starter.

After an injury-racked 09-10 season, Ward could slip under the radar a bit.

Chicago: Marty Turco is the clear starter.

I haven’t heard many good things about Corey Crawford, so Turco is an interesting fantasy choice next season.

Colorado: Craig Anderson is the clear starter.

I would be very surprised if he approached the elite level of his last season, but he’s obviously the No. 1 and is also in a contract year.

Thumbnail image for masonpulled.jpgColumbus: Steve Mason is the clear starter.

Unless he turns into Sieve Mason again …

Dallas: Kari Lehtonen is the clear starter.

Considering the fact that Lehtonen is so injury prone, Stars fans see the likely proposition of Andrew Raycroft being their starter for a stretch of the season. Yikes.

Detroit: Jimmy Howard is the likely starter.

Both Howard and Chris Osgood are in contract years. Osgood has plenty of championship rings and Howard might decline after a surprising rookie year.

Edmonton: Nikolai Khabibulin is the likely starter, but just stay away.

You have to be in a pretty deep league to even look at the Oilers goalies.

Florida: Tomas Vokoun is the clear starter.

He’s a good choice in leagues that reward quantity of starts (saves) along with the typical categories because he probably won’t earn many wins on a weak Panthers squad.

Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick is the likely starter.

Jonathan Bernier could really push Quick, who logged a bunch of minutes in 09-10. You might be wise to pick up both to hedge your bets.

The rest of the NHL teams’ goalie scenarios can be found after the jump.


Thumbnail image for pricehalak.jpgMinnesota: Niklas Backstrom is the clear starter.

Josh Harding is widely considered a top backup, but Backstrom is a workhorse.

Montreal: Carey Price is the clear starter

Alex Auld is solid, but this is Price’s team now. Could be a nice, late-round gamble.

Nashville: Pekka Rinne is the clear starter.

I think Rinne is a sneaky steal. The Predators play rock solid D, he won’t have to worry about being usurped by Dan Ellis anymore and he seems like a legitimate talent in net.

New Jersey: Martin Brodeur is the clear starter.

The most consistent goalie in fantasy hockey should be considered useful until proven otherwise.

NY Islanders: Dwayne Roloson is the probable starter.

See: the Edmonton Oilers entry. In other words, just stay away.

Thumbnail image for lundqvistpads.jpgNY Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist is the clear starter.

Martin Biron might take a solid amount of Lundqvist’s starts, though. He’s the first capable backup the Swedish star has had in New York.

Ottawa: It’s a bit of a tossup.

You’re probably better off staying away from that not-so-dynamic duo.

Philadelphia: Michael Leighton is the probable starter.

The Flyers could provide some nice goal support and defense in front of whomever their goalie might be. The question is whether or not Leighton will keep the job.

Phoenix: Ilya Bryzgalov is the clear starter.

Like Craig Anderson, it’s hard to imagine Breezy’s encore season matching last year, but the Greed is Good principle of a contract year could be enough incentive to keep him going.

Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury is the clear starter.

I’ve often been hard on M.A.F. but he could be a worthy pick with the improved defense in front of him.

San Jose: Antti Niemi is the likely starter.

The Sharks defense is a little shaky and they no longer have Evgeni Nabokov as an obvious rock in net. It should be a solid 1a/1b situation between Niemi and Antero Niittymaki.

St. Louis: Jaroslav Halak is the clear starter.

Halak will have every chance to prove himself as a legitimate starter while Ty Conklin is a very solid backup.

Tampa Bay: Dan Ellis is the probable starter.

Ellis has never been a No. 1 and Mike Smith should provide some solid competition. Use caution with this situation.

Thumbnail image for bertuzzihitsluongo.jpgToronto: It’s a bit of a toss-up.

The Maple Leafs might improve this year, but I’m not crazy about J.S. Giguere or Jonas Gustavsson.

Vancouver: Roberto Luongo is the clear starter.

He should get a ton of starts on a team that has a great chance to be a contender next season.

Washington: Semyon Varlamov is the probable starter.

The Capitals’ goalie situation is a little murky, but Varlamov could be a nice pick if you don’t snatch him too early.

So that’s my take on the NHL’s goalie situations. Feel free to voice any disagreements with these choices in the comments.

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    Under Pressure: Patrick Marleau

    GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 04:  Patrick Marleau #12 of the San Jose Sharks during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on April 4, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 5-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    This is part of Sharks day at PHT…

    Before the 2016 playoffs, there had been a lot of disappointment in San Jose and Patrick Marleau has been there for all of it.

    Over the last 18 seasons, Marleau has been the most productive Shark during the regular season. Unfortunately, he’s also one of the players that’s received the most criticism during San Jose’s playoff failures.

    Last season, the 36-year-old saw his point total dip for the third straight year. Marleau was still productive (25 goals and 48 points in 82 games), just not as productive as he had been in previous seasons.

    It’s no secret that Marleau’s been the talk of trade rumors for years. Even at the beginning of last season, it was reported that he submitted a list of three teams he was willing to be traded to.

    “I’ve been here forever and it’s been a great place to play,” Marleau said last November, per CSN Bay Area. “I’m not going to get into specifics or anything like that. There’s always been rumors in my career. I don’t really want to feed into it anymore or comment on it. I don’t want it to become a distraction or anything.”

    The Sharks held on to Marleau, and even though the rumors have died down, his days might still be numbered in San Jose (for real this time).

    Marleau will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and although he’ll probably make less than his current $6.66 million AAV, it could be the end of the line between these two sides.

    The Sharks have younger players like Tomas Hertl, Mikkel Boedker and a number of prospects like Nikolay Goldobin, who will be ready to jump into the lineup soon.

    With an aging core, Marleau might be the first veteran San Jose cuts ties with because Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski are still performing at a high level.

    Also, the fact that Thornton and Brent Burns both need new contracts after next season certainly doesn’t help Marleau’s case. And in two years from now, Tomas Hertl will be looking for a bump in pay as well.

    The odds seem to be stacked against Marleau. If he wants to remain a Shark, he’ll have to take a significant pay cut or have a huge bounce back season.

    Looking to make the leap: Nikolay Goldobin

    SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 05:  Nikolay Goldobin #82 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the Florida Panthers at SAP Center on November 5, 2015 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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    This is part of Sharks day at PHT…

    Earning a roster spot on a veteran team that just went to the Stanley Cup Final won’t be easy, but Nikolay Goldobin will give it a shot.

    The 20-year-old was drafted in the first round, 27th overall, in 2014. He has speed and skill and could be ready to make an impact at the NHL level as soon as this season.

    Goldobin got his firs taste of NHL action last season, as he scored a goal and an assist in nine regular season games with the Sharks between Oct. 16 and Nov. 22.

    Although his agent Igor Larionov admitted that his client wasn’t ready for the NHL last season, it’s a different story this time around.

    Goldobin now has a full year of pro hockey under his belt and he his time in the AHL certainly helped too.

    Here’s an excerpt from a recent CSN Bay Area article about Goldobin:

    Headed into camp, Goldobin may be penciled in to start the season with the Barracudas, but I would imagine he’ll be given every opportunity to shine in some preseason games. As a skilled winger he’ll need to be on a line with a top center, so perhaps he gets a look with Joe Thornton or Logan Couture. There is always the chance Goldobin could push someone like Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson or Matt Nieto down the lineup, or maybe even a veteran like Patrick Marleau. It may not happen right away, but if Goldobin starts the year in the AHL and is tearing it up, he won’t have to take a cross-country flight on a recall. That should make some current Sharks a bit nervous.

    In his young career, Goldobin has already a little success playing with Thornton:

    The Sharks currently have 13 forwards on the roster, but that includes the two-way contracts of Joonas Donskoi, Chris Tierney and Micheal Haley.

    Although Donskoi’s job appears to be safe, the other two players could become victims of Golbodin’s training camp success.

    With everyone healthy, the Sharks likely won’t have a top-six roster spot Goldobin, but potential injuries could fix that problem too.

    It’s San Jose Sharks day at PHT

    SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  The San Jose Sharks shake hands with the Pittsburgh Penguins after losing Game Six 3-1 and the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    After years of falling short despite often ranking among the NHL’s pre-season favorites, the San Jose Sharks made their deepest run one year after not even making the playoffs at all.

    That thought probably explains why, for many, the pain of falling two wins short of a first-ever Stanley Cup victory is dulled by the Sharks being (gasp) overachievers.

    You could call the Sharks a lot of things since Joe Thornton was traded over to sunnier climates from Boston, but rarely were expectations low enough for them to over-achieve.

    They did just that in their first season under head coach Peter DeBoer, however.

    While their turnaround made less noise than the team that beat them in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, the Sharks echoed the Penguins in finishing the 2015-16 season on a roll. They didn’t let a troubling 18-18-2 mark (as of Jan. 7) derail their season, managing to grab the third spot in the Pacific, exorcising some Los Angeles Kings demons and going on a memorable run.

    Off-season

    Here’s another Penguins parallel: the Sharks didn’t really lose anyone of note this summer.

    When you get that close to winning it all, standing pat isn’t so bad, although GM Doug Wilson didn’t totally snooze on the job. He added a burst of speed with winger Mikkel Boedker, whose flaws are easier to ignore considering the team’s need for speed and a reasonable $4 million cap hit.

    The Sharks also added respected defensive depth in David Schlemko, giving the team an enviable D corps.

    Still, there are some lingering questions.

    Can Martin Jones back up a strong first season as a No. 1 goalie? Will anything come from yet another round of Patrick Marleau trade rumors? Will a fairly old core of Joe Thornton, Marleau, Joe Pavelski (already 32) and others get creaky after that playoff push?

    The Sharks are an interesting case because they boast so much talent in those veterans plus Logan Couture and Brent Burns, yet age and a tough West inspire plenty of questions.

    PHT will address quite a few of those queries on a Sharks Sunday.

    Who might be the next Artemi Panarin?

    LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 22:  Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks poses after winning the Calder Trophy named for the top rookie at the 2016 NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Even in an information age where boundless information lies a few clicks away, talented players slip through the cracks.

    Jamie Benn won the Art Ross in 2014-15 and came in second place last season, yet 128 players were selected before him in 2007. No-brainer Vezina Trophy-winner Braden Holtby was selected in the fourth round.

    We haven’t even covered quality players who weren’t even drafted.

    Artemi Panarin stands as an especially mind-blowing example. He went from undrafted free agent to the 2016 Calder Trophy winner after developing – and eventually breaking through – overseas.

    As we learned from Vladimir Tarasenko‘s recommendations to the Blues, Panarin was readily available in the summer of 2015, making his 30-goal, 77-point season burn plenty of executives and scouts.

    While there are examples of players who fall through the cracks, Panarin feels pretty unusual. Still, NHL Tonight sets out to name a few international players who could make a Panarin-type impact … and, of course, one of those players could suit up for the Chicago Blackhawks:

    Interesting stuff.

    If you choose not to watch the video, two of the names highlighted were Michal Kempny of the Blackhawks and Nikita Zaitsev of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    As defensemen, both overseas signings aren’t likely to make a Panarin-type splash on the scoreboard, but they remain interesting names to watch.

    Not quite a Panarin parallel, but …

    Allow for a comparison that breaks the rules quite a bit: Alex Radulov stands as likely the biggest impact import of all.

    As the 15th pick of the 2004 NHL Draft and with a very high profile, he won’t slip in under the radar like Panarin did last summer.

    Still, this is a player who already has 102 points to his name at the NHL level (in 154 regular season games), and despite the playoff drama with Nashville, he also has 14 career playoff points in 18 NHL postseason games.

    Honestly, the Radulov signing might be the best move Montreal made during a turbulent off-season.

    If any other import can compare to Radulov or Panarin, that team should be very, very happy.

    Chances are, we won’t know who to expect, but feel free to name your own choices.