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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    Burns continued to build Hart argument in Sharks win last night

    NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 12:  San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns #88 celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils during their game at the Prudential Center on February 12, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The San Jose Sharks were facing a team that had been playing well in an arena buzzing with energy following a pregame ceremony.

    Once they handled the initial onrush, the Sharks struck first to subdue the crowd and their opponent.

    Brent Burns scored two goals, Aaron Dell had a career-high 36 saves and the Sharks beat the Arizona Coyotes for the first time this season, 4-1 on Saturday night.

    “We kind of weathered their storm early; there was a lot of energy in the building,” Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. “We got to (Coyotes goalie Mike Smith) in the first period. When you get one or two on him early, it kind of breaks them down a little bit and play from behind. That was a big key.”

    The Sharks bounced back from a slow start in their last game by scoring two goals in the first period and another early in the second to quiet a crowd energized by a ceremony honoring the first Coyotes team in the desert. Dell was sharp in his 11th start of the season, and the Pacific Division-leading Sharks were good in front of him to avoid a season sweep (1-3-1) by the last-place Coyotes.

    Melker Karlsson had a goal and two assists, and Micheal Haley had a goal and an assist for San Jose.

    Burns, of course, was at the center of the offense from the blue line.

    The NHL’s third-leading scorer, he had a goal in the first period and his 27th of the season in the third to match the team record for goals by a defenseman that he set in 2015-16. It was his third two-goal game of the season and second in the last three games.

    “He’s having an MVP season. He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “I don’t know what else to say. In my mind, he’s the best player in the league right now.”

    The Coyotes could not capitalize on a rowdy, sellout crowd. Arizona peppered Dell with 29 shots in the first two periods but didn’t score until Martin Hanzal punched in a rebound in the third, when they were down 3-0.

    Hanzal scored his fifth goal in five games and Smith stopped 29 shots for Arizona.

    “We were pretty good in the period and I don’t want to say they were lucky goals, but they scored first and after that, it’s hard to chase a team like the Sharks,” Hanzal said.

    The Sharks trailed 3-1 in the first period and 6-3 in the third before rallying for a point against Florida on Wednesday. On Saturday, they took an early lead when Burns fired a shot through traffic to beat Smith to the stick side.

    Karlsson made it 2-0 late in the period, keeping the puck on a 2-on-1 and wristing one past Smith on the stick side again.

    San Jose kept the pressure up early in the second, making it a three-goal lead when Haley scored on a one-timer from between the circles for his first of the season.

    Burns stopped Arizona’s momentum late in the period, wristing a shot that slipped through Smith’s pads on a power play.

    “That wasn’t my best game. I thought our team did a good job tonight to give ourselves a chance to win,” Smith said. “They were opportunistic in the first period and we couldn’t capitalize on our chances and when that happens, you usually lose.”

    NOTES: Along with honoring their 1996-97 team – the first after the franchise moved from Winnipeg – in a ceremony before the game, Arizona also announced its all-time starting six, which included current players Smith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and captain Shane Doan. … Haley’s goal was his first since March 5, 2016 against Vancouver. … Hanzal moved past Pat Elynuik for 13th on the franchise list with his 116th career goal.

    UP NEXT

    San Jose hosts Boston on Sunday before getting a five-day break from all hockey-related activities.

    Arizona hosts Anaheim on Monday before playing five of its next six games on the road.

    NBC and NBCSN have you covered for Hockey Day in America

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    With two games on NBC and then two more on NBCSN, your Sunday should be jam-packed with Hockey Day in America action. A look at the hockey hotbed of Warroad, Minnesota adds a delectable cherry on top, too.

    If you need a guide to this party of pucks and patriotism, look no further than this post.

    Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and the dominant Capitals take on Ryan McDonagh and the Blueshirts. The Metropolitan Division represents some of the NHL’s upper crust, so don’t be fooled by the Rangers being the first wild card while the Caps are tops in the East; both of these teams can go. Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher will be there to call the action.

    MORE: For Oshie, ties to Warroad run deep

    Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk will be in the booth for this battle between teams that met in back-to-back Stanley Cup Final series in 2008 and 2009. Along with usual suspects like Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg, these teams feature American scorers such as Dylan Larkin and, of course, Phil Kessel.

    Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres, 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

    The action shifts to NBCSN as Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks hope to teach Jack Eichel and the upstart Sabres a lesson or two. The Blackhawks are in playoff position, as usual, while Buffalo is rallying to try to make a push of its own. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti will be your guides.

    MORE: Islanders forward Brock Nelson’s journey from Warroad to the NHL

    Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

    Hockey Day in America’s coverage closes off with this matchup between David Backes‘ Bruins and Joe Pavelski‘s Sharks. Randy Hahn, Andy Brickley and Bret Hedican will take you through this match between the Pacific Division’s top team and a Bruins team fighting to stick in the East playoff picture.

    Barkov’s beautiful goal pushes Panthers into playoff position

    SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers circles the net with the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1 in a shoot out. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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    The Florida Panthers just won’t be denied as they end the night in the East’s top eight.

    It’s fitting, then, that Aleksander Barkov wouldn’t be denied on his game-winner against Los Angeles on Saturday.

    Barkov bursts beyond multiple Kings, fights off what would have been an obstruction penalty and then beats Peter Budaj by the narrowest of margins to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead 15 seconds into the third period. They would never relinquish that edge to Los Angeles, winning their fourth game in a row.

    In the process, the Panthers – a team that seemed to be fledgling when it fired Gerard Gallant – now find themselves in the East’s top eight. Heck, they’re actually above the wild card fray by a hair.

    Before we get to that … just bask in the glow of this Barkov goal:

    Again, it was such a small window to beat Budaj, too:

    (If the Panthers’ place in the standings doesn’t sway you into taking them seriously, maybe note plays like that and the fact that Barkov has 20 points in his last 17 games.)

    OK, so with this win, the Panthers did some serious leapfrogging. They now rank third in the Atlantic Division (thanks to a game in hand on Boston) and have more points than Toronto as far as wild card concerns go, anyway.

    Atlantic Division rankings

    1. Canadiens – 70 points in 59 games
    2. Senators – 68 points in 56 games
    3. Panthers – 64 points in 57 games

    Bruins – 64 in 58
    Maple Leafs – 63 in 47
    Sabres – 62 in 59
    Lightning – 58 in 57
    Red Wings – 56 in 58

    From a wild card perspective

    Third in Atlantic – Panthers – 64 points in 57 games
    Second wild card – Bruins – 64 in 58

    Maple Leafs – 63 in 47
    Islanders – 62 in 57
    Sabres – 62 in 59
    Flyers – 61 in 58
    Devils – 60 in 58
    Lightning – 58 in 57
    Hurricanes – 56 in 54
    Red Wings – 56 in 58

    Everything’s so close that the Panthers can’t pop champagne bottles, but they’re also very much in control over their hopes. While it never hurts to see your competitors stumble, the Panthers can take care of business. They “control their own destiny,” to use silly sports parlance.

    And considering how they’ve been playing lately, they might be as tough to handle in the playoffs as Barkov was to stop on that outstanding 3-2 goal.

    Stars made Dave Strader’s return to the booth special

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    It was a special night as the Dallas Stars beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in overtime, but the most memorable moment wasn’t the win or Antoine Roussel‘s hat trick.

    Instead, it was how the team embraced Dave Strader’s return to the broadcasting booth as he continues to fight cancer.

    Don’t be ashamed if his comments to the Dallas Morning News leave you emotional:

    “This is the first time, to be honest with you, that for four hours I didn’t feel like I was sick at all,” Strader said after the game. “Maybe it was the adrenaline high, but I really, really feel great right now.”

    Again, the team really did some great things to welcome him back, but the highlight was saluting him after the game. Incredible stuff.

    “What a gesture by the boys … meant so much to me and my wife! Thank you.” Strader tweeted after the game.

    As this post notes, Strader is expected to do play-by-play for four more Stars games.