The preseason top five fantasy goalies based on Yahoo average draft position (ADP) were Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals), Ben Bishop (started with Tampa Bay Lightning; traded to Los Angeles Kings), Jonathan Quick (Kings), Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) and Martin Jones (San Jose Sharks). Two of the five (Holtby: 2nd; Price; 4th) lived up to high expectations; the rest of the top five is filled with surprises.
Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) ranks first among goalies based on standard-category performance, and fellow bounce-backs Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild; 3rd) and Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers; 5th) went from outside the top 13 in ADP to the upper echelon of the position.
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 'F' | TOP 50 'D' | AWARDS | TOP 250 FOR 2017-18
Holby and Price remain two of the top goalies entering next season, but they could have additional competition from keeper-league assets like Matt Murray (Pittsburgh Penguins), Jake Allen (St. Louis Blues) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning). Fantasy owners should also pay close attention to goalie developments in free agency, as well as in the NHL Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. The most notable potential unrestricted free agents are Brian Elliott (Calgary Flames) and Bishop.
Video: WPG@STL: Allen makes a pair of saves shorthanded
There were also a few backups who rose to fantasy prominence. Peter Budaj (started with Kings; traded to Lightning), Antti Raanta (New York Rangers) and Jonathan Bernier (Anaheim Ducks) each made the most of his opportunity when given the chance, rewarding fantasy owners who either drafted them late or added them off the waiver wire. Although each is outside the top 25 goalies heading into the offseason, they could find themselves there again next season.
STEALS BASED ON YAHOO AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION
Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ (Yahoo rank: 3rd overall, 1st among goalies; ADP 130.6): Bobrovsky was clearly the biggest fantasy steal of the season, and could win the Vezina Trophy for the second time of his NHL career. On average, Bobrovsky was selected in the 12th round (23rd among goalies). He's leading the League in goals-against average (2.02) and save percentage (.933), ranks second in wins (41) and is tied for third in shutouts (7). He is 9-3-1 with a .955 SV% and four shutouts since the beginning of March, helping most of his fantasy owners excel in the playoffs. Bobrovsky has allowed two goals or fewer in 42 of his 62 starts this season, and deserves to be right up there with Holtby and Price in the first two rounds of drafts next season.
Cam Talbot, EDM (Yahoo rank: 37th overall, 5th among goalies; ADP 148.0): Talbot was drafted on average in the 14th round (26th among goalies). The Oilers defense was believed to be a liability, and Talbot was 21-27-5 with a 2.55 GAA, .917 SV% and three shutouts in 56 games last season, so many chose to stay away. But Talbot has started the most games among goalies this season (71) and has gone 40-22-8 with a 2.40 GAA, .919 SV% and seven shutouts to lead Edmonton to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006. Talbot was able to manage a heavy workload with little sign of fatigue, and is tied for the most road wins in the NHL (17).
Video: EDM@LAK: Talbot makes two strong saves
Peter Budaj, TBL (Yahoo rank: 42nd, 7th among goalies); ADP 148.4): Budaj started the season in the American Hockey League and ended up starting virtually every game for the Kings in Quick's injury absence. Budaj was 27-20-3 with outstanding peripherals (2.12 GAA, .917 SV%, 7 SO) with the Kings despite their struggling offense. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26, and has gone 3-1-0 as the backup to Vasilevskiy. The 34-year-old is a pending UFA this summer, and the uncertainty of his next landing spot is the big reason the resurgent veteran is outside the top 25.
Other goalie steals based on ADP: Tuukka Rask, BOS (Yahoo rank: 39; ADP: 57.6), Craig Anderson, OTT (Yahoo rank: 54; ADP: 98.2), Antti Raanta, NYR (Yahoo rank: 89; ADP: 158.8), Jonathan Bernier, ANA (Yahoo rank: 158; ADP: 164.7)
DISAPPOINTMENTS WHO CAN BOUNCE BACK
Cory Schneider, NJD (Yahoo rank: 345th; ADP 27.6): Schneider did not get much help from the New Jersey Devils offense (2.19 goals per game, third-worst in NHL), and his performance suffered. His 2.72 GAA and .912 SV% were his worst numbers in his seven NHL seasons of at least 10 starts. He was 20-25-11 and allowed three or more goals in 33 games. Schneider allowed at least four goals 16 times and five goals four times. Last season, he allowed at least four goals seven times and five goals once. That said, it will be hard for the Devils to be worse than they were this season. If they make any upgrades on defense and offense, Schneider should be able to revert to his previously efficient form (2.26 GAA, .922 SV% in 328 NHL games).
Ben Bishop, LAK (Yahoo rank: 257th; ADP 15.5): After finishing in the top three in Vezina Trophy voting last season for the second time in three seasons, Bishop appeared poised for another strong year, especially with an expiring contract. Although he did miss time because of injury, Bishop was mediocre with the Lightning, going 16-12-3 with a 2.55 GAA and .911 SV%. Since the trade to Los Angeles, he has taken a back seat to Quick, going 2-2-2 in six games with a 2.23 GAA and .911 SV%. He is more than capable of bouncing back next season, but where to draft him depends on where he ends up -- since it likely won't be Los Angeles.
Roberto Luongo, FLA (Yahoo rank: 260th; ADP 61.1): Luongo, the 13th goalie drafted on average, was 35-19-6 with a 2.35 GAA, .922 SV% and four shutouts in 62 games last season, helping the Florida Panthers win the Atlantic Division. But the 38-year-old has been limited him to 40 games (17-15-6), his fewest in a full season since playing 24 games in 1999-2000 with the New York Islanders during his rookie season. Luongo, first among active goalies in wins (453) and shutouts (73), plays on a team with great young talent that should be in the postseason mix next season, making him a prime bounce-back candidate. If you're going to draft Luongo next season, make sure to target James Reimer as well; they could form an effective time-share tandem if Florida turns it around.
Other disappointments who can bounce back: Petr Mrazek, DET (Yahoo rank: 533; ADP: 83.4), Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (Yahoo rank: 353; ADP: 95.1), Jaroslav Halak, NYI (Yahoo rank: 341; ADP: 126.4)
Top 25 Fantasy Goalies for 2017-18
Rankings are based on projected starts, peripheral category coverage, time-share situations, team defenses, past performance and overall upside for next season in standard leagues (wins, GAA, SV%, shutouts). Players who can become unrestricted or restricted free agents this summer have been identified.
1. Braden Holtby, WSH
2. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ
3. Carey Price, MTL
4. Devan Dubnyk, MIN
5. Jonathan Quick, LAK
6. Matt Murray, PIT
7. Cam Talbot, EDM
8. Jake Allen, STL
9. Martin Jones, SJS
10. Tuukka Rask, BOS
11. Pekka Rinne, NSH
12. Corey Crawford, CHI
13. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
14. Brian Elliott, CGY (UFA)
15. John Gibson, ANA
16. Craig Anderson, OTT
17. Frederik Andersen, TOR
18. Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL
19. Ben Bishop, LAK (UFA)
20. Jaroslav Halak, NYI
21. Roberto Luongo, FLA (INJ.)
22. Cory Schneider, NJD
23. Jimmy Howard, DET
24. Robin Lehner, BUF
25. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT
Just missed: Connor Hellebuyck (WPG - RFA), Antti Raanta (NYR), Thomas Greiss (NYI), Cam Ward (CAR), Semyon Varlamov (COL), James Reimer (FLA), Juuse Saros (NSH)
Other notable potential UFAs: Jonathan Bernier (ANA), Ryan Miller (VAN), Steve Mason (PHI), Peter Budaj (TBL), Mike Condon (OTT), Chad Johnson (CGY)
READ: Last week's Top 25 goalie rankings