With the 2017-18 NHL season inching closer by the day, NHL.com is previewing each of the five positions (center, left wing, right wing, defenseman, goaltender). From top-tier players to underrated options at each position, these guides will prepare you for your upcoming draft. Remember to also keep NHL.com's fantasy cheat sheet handy for top 250 rankings, stat projections, team previews and more.
FANTASY RANKINGS: Top 250 | Top 100 'F' | C | LW | RW | Top 50 'D' | Top 25 'G'
DRAFT GUIDES: Standard mock draft 1.0 | Keeper / dynasty | Hits | Faceoff wins
2017-18 PROJECTIONS: Forward points | D-man points | Goalie wins | Team previews
LISTS: Forward bargains | D-man bargains | Breakouts | Sleepers | Deep sleepers | Rookies
STARTING AT THE TOP
Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) is the highest drafted goalie, one of two to be selected on average in the first round, along with Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals). There's no denying Price and Holtby are two of the League's best. Price won the Vezina Trophy in 2014-15 and was a finalist last year, and Holtby has 177 wins since 2012-13, the most of any goalie (Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins, is second with 157).
However, Matt Murray , who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup in consecutive seasons and is 41-12-5 with a 2.32 GAA and .925 save percentage in his regular-season career, likely will be right at the top among fantasy goalies this season. There's no reason to think the Penguins won't be a top-level team again, and Murray doesn't have to worry about splitting starts with Marc-Andre Fleury , who was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft.
Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild) the 10th-drafted goalie on average, had 40 wins last season, and five shutouts for the third straight season. He may not get as much attention as the goalies in front of him, but he's as safe a bet as they come. Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) probably won't replicate his Vezina-winning season but should finish among the top 10. Jake Allen (St. Louis Blues) should build off his strong first season as a No, 1; Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) has shown no signs of slowing down at age 34; and Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers) is in a good situation with their offense and youth.
Ben Bishop, DAL (Yahoo average draft position: 59.2) -- On average, Bishop is the 15th goalie selected, which is low considering how high his ceiling is with the Dallas Stars. Bishop ranks fourth in wins (130), sixth in GAA (2.25) and 12th in SV% (.920) among goalies who have made at least 50 starts since 2013-14. He joins an elite offense in Dallas with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and newcomer Alexander Radulov. A Vezina Trophy finalist in 2013-14 and 2015-16, Bishop has 35-win potential and is a great pick if you can get him in the sixth round or later.
Mike Smith, CGY (ADP: 93.1) -- Don't let his age fool you. Smith, 35, is very capable of a 60-65 start season with good peripherals now that he's on the Calgary Flames, who are more defensively and offensively sound than the Arizona Coyotes. He could post numbers similar to his 2011-12 season when he was 38-18-10 with a 2.21 GAA, .930 SV% and eight shutouts, and it wouldn't be surprising if he finishes in the top 15 among goalies.
Cory Schneider, NJD (ADP: 96.1) -- Last season likely was an aberration for Schneider, who had his worst GAA (2.82) since and SV% (.908) since becoming an full-time NHL player in 2010-11. Let's not forget, he ranks third in NHL career save percentage (.922) and should receive more offensive support with Marcus Johansson and Nico Hischier added to the mix for the New Jersey Devils. Schneider, who could get 27-30 wins, likely will be overlooked in drafts and could be a bargain.
Brian Elliott, PHI (ADP: 107.4) -- Elliott's 2016-17 season with the Calgary Flames didn't go according to plan to start, but he finished 23-9-2 with a .919 SV% in 35 games beginning Dec. 19 and could be the solution for the Philadelphia Flyers. Elliott has been consistent, not having a GAA higher than 2.28 in five seasons prior to last, as well as having a SV% of at least .920 in three of the prior six seasons. Elliott will make at least 60 starts and should reward fantasy owners.
Scott Darling, CAR (ADP: 120.4) -- The writing was on the wall for longtime starter Cam Ward when the Carolina Hurricanes traded for and signed Darling this offseason. The backup to Corey Crawford on the Chicago Blackhawks in each of the past three seasons, Darling was 18-5-5 last season. The 28-year-old boasts impressive NHL numbers (2.37 GAA, .923 SV%) and should make the most starts in Carolina. Although 30 wins could be a reach, Darling has plenty of upside, especially given the fact he is being drafted in the 12th round on average.
Antti Raanta, ARI (164.8) -- The Arizona Coyotes acquired Raanta in a trade with the New York Rangers, and he will take over for Smith. Raanta has never been an NHL No. 1 before, although he has played at least 25 games in three of his four NHL seasons. He likely will double the 26 starts he made last season, and although the GAA should rise because of Arizona's defensive woes, his SV% should be solid. Wins might not be in the cards for Raanta, but you likely will be rewarded drafting a starting goalie as low as he is going.
James Reimer, FLA (173.3) -- Roberto Luongo, 38, isn't getting any younger and is an injury risk, so Reimer could make more than the 39 starts he made last season with the Florida Panthers. The two are being drafted at about the same position (Luongo ADP: 173.5), but this could turn from a time-share into a No. 1 situation for Reimer, who had three shutouts in his final six starts last season.
Jimmy Howard, DET (176.8) -- On average, Howard is being drafted 47th among goalies, two spots ahead of Detroit Red Wings teammate Petr Mrazek. It's true Howard is an injury risk (he made 57 starts past two seasons combined), but he had a 2.10 GAA and .927 SV% last season, each the best in his NHL career. Selecting him in the 16th round or later as your second or third goalie can turn into a great move if he puts up numbers close to those.
TOP 25 GOALIE RANKINGS
Standard Yahoo categories include wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts for goaltenders. … Value has been quantified based on factors including but not limited to past production, team goaltender situations, anticipated start volume, projected goal support (or lack thereof), injury history, age, sleeper, bounce-back or breakout potential, potential regression, contract status, Yahoo ADP and overall upside for this season.
1. Matt Murray, PIT
2. Braden Holtby, WSH
3. Carey Price, MTL
4. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ
5. Cam Talbot, EDM
6. Jake Allen, STL
7. Devan Dubnyk, MIN
8. Pekka Rinne, NSH
9. Tuukka Rask, BOS
10. Corey Crawford, CHI
11. Jonathan Quick, LAK
12. Ben Bishop, DAL
13. Martin Jones, SJS
14. John Gibson, ANA
15. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
16. Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL
17. Frederik Andersen, TOR
18. Mike Smith, CGY
19. Craig Anderson, OTT
20. Brian Elliott, PHI
21. Scott Darling, CAR
22. Cory Schneider, NJD
23. Robin Lehner, BUF
24. Jaroslav Halak, NYI
25. Antti Raanta, ARI
Others to consider: Thomas Greiss (NYI), Jimmy Howard (DET), James Reimer (FLA), Philipp Grubauer (WSH), Juuse Saros (NSH)
READ: July's top 25 goalie ranking