Top 5 Fantasy Hockey Goalies for 2013-14


 Henrik Lundqvist

Preseason games have kicked in, and we’re just a week and a half away from opening night. It’s time to look at your top five best bets in net for the upcoming season. Goaltending can be the make-or-break choice for your fantasy hockey team, so choose wisely.

1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
2. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
3. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
4. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
5. Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks

1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
There are plenty of reasons why King Henrik gets the number one slot, among them are the second most wins over the past two seasons (63), second best winning percentage (60%, for goalies with more than 80 starts), and a stellar 2.00 goals against average (far best among goalies with more than 80 starts) during that span. The Rangers are in line for another above average season, and with Lundqvist inline for 70+ starts this year, expect a save percentage around .920 (probably closer to .925, he hasn’t had a season percentage under .920 since 2009) and a goals against average around 2.10, which should be near tops in the league. The only question that is out there will be the impact of Alain Vigneault, who takes over behind the bench for John Tortorella. Torts was a far more defensive-minded coach than Vigneault, who comes from an offensive powerhouse in Vancouver. The Rangers have a strong corps of blue liners in front of Lundqvist, but will they continue to block shots the way they have the past few seasons without Tortorella breathing down their necks?

2. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Howard was the recipient of a 6 year, $31.75 million dollar contract extension back in April, and his numbers over the past two seasons are a big reason why. Howard is the owner of a winning percentage of 56%, a .922 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average during that span. While the Wings are no longer the perennial contenders they once were, they should be competitive in the newly formed Atlantic Division. They’re still very much a puck possession team which means Howard won’t face as many shots as other goaltenders, but there’s no reason to think his numbers won’t be near the top of the league again this year.

3. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Tuukka RaskAt the number three spot we have our very own Tuukka Rask. Like Howard is coming into the year with a fat new contract, but with slightly less history to back it up. With that said, Rask is coming off a season (albeit shortened) that saw him post the best save percentage (.940) and fewest goals against (46) in the league. His ridiculous 1.88 average was fourth best. Everyone knows that the Claude Julien-led Bruins will be near the tops of the league in fewest goals allowed, and as long as Rask can stay healthy he should be in line for another strong year. With Anton Khudobin gone and either Chad Johnson or Niklas Svedberg inline for the backup role, Rask should earn his money and get near 70 starts. Health and a post-contract drop-off are of course the risks with Tuukka.

4. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
There’s little doubt that Quick is one of the best young goaltenders in the league today after backstopping his LA squad to a Stanley Cup in 2012. He’s coming off a slightly down year last year where he posted .902 save percentage and 2.45 goals against, but his potential is closer to the .929 and 1.95 numbers he posted the season before. The Kings still have a strong squad that should post a decent record this season, and with Ben Scrivens tabbed as a backup, Quick should see near 70 starts. Don’t forget about the ridiculous 10 shutouts he posted in 2011-12, which could easily do wonders for your team if he’s able to get back into form.

5. Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks
Rounding out the top five is the Sharks’ Antti Niemi. Because San Jose is known more for putting pucks in the net rather than keeping them out, Niemi sometimes flies under the radar when it comes to goaltenders. But like Rask he’s coming off a career year with 24 wins in 43 starts, sporting a .924 save percentage and 2.16 goals against. His career average of nearly 6 shutouts a year should be attractive to fantasy owners, and with a no-name backup (sorry Alex Stalock), there’s a good change he’ll reach that mark again this season.

Other Considerations:
Mike Smith – Phoenix – another under the radar goaltender that posts good numbers (.924 sv% and 2.33 GAA over the past two seasons, league best 13 shutouts).
Pekka Rinne – Nashville – would be a perennial stud if he didn’t play in Nashville. Currently injured however.
Corey Schneider & Martin Brodeur tandem – New Jersey – if you like the goaltending duo approach, this wouldn’t be a bad one to have.

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