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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Ranks entering offseason

by Evan Sporer / NHL.com

It was an unpredictable season for goaltending in the NHL.

There were some big names who, as expected, put up impressive numbers. Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils each had Vezina Trophy-caliber seasons.

There were also players like Devan Dubnyk, Cam Talbot, Michael Hutchinson and Andrew Hammond, who at one point or another became must-own fantasy assets.

There were even some known commodities that made major improvements this season. Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals had a career year and Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers put up stellar numbers. Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks made major strides.

If the season ended today, 11 goalies would have finished with a save-percentage of .922 or higher (minimum 30 games). That has never happened in the history of the League. The most goalies in a single season to put up those numbers were eight last season and in 2012-13.

If you're noticing a trend here, it's that these seasons occurred recently. Goal scoring continues to go down and goalies continue to reap the benefits.

Yet still, simply put, goaltending is very difficult to predict.

STARTING AT THE TOP

Carey Price
STATS PRIOR TO APR. 9 GAMES
RECORD: 42-16-6
GAA: 1.93 | SVP: .935
Price is putting up historically good numbers despite playing for a bad possession team, so there's no reason to unseat him as the top dog. Behind Price, it's much of the same. Henrik Lundqvist, when healthy, has been one of the League's best yet again. In what's a down year by his own standards, Tuukka Rask will still finish near the top of the League in every relevant goaltending statistic. Rinne, with a clean bill of health, has put his name back into the conversation among the League's elite.

The one surprise near the top of the list for some might be Schneider. In his first season as a true No. 1, Schneider struggled early, possibly because he was starting nearly every game for the Devils. But Schneider has since figured things out. And like Price, Schneider does it behind a team that struggles in puck possession.

Sergei Bobrovsky
STATS PRIOR TO APR. 9 GAMES
RECORD: 29-17-3
GAA: 2.70 | SVP: .918
MOVING ON UP

Sergei Bobrovsky -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have looked like the Stanley Cup Playoff team many expected them to be. With a healthy roster, Columbus recently set a record by winning nine consecutive games and eight straight road games. Bobrovsky missed extended time because of a groin injury, but has looked great, especially during the Blue Jackets' winning streak.

Steve Mason -- A full season of performing at a high level should elevate Mason's stock. He's been good for the Philadelphia Flyers and seems to have figured out whatever wasn't working for him toward the end of his tenure in Columbus.

Craig Anderson -- Forget everything you know and has you infatuated with Hammond and remember this: Anderson has a .923 save percentage, almost 10 points above the League average. In his five seasons playing for the Ottawa Senators, he has a .920 save percentage, meaning this season is no fluke. Not to say what Hammond is doing is, but Anderson is a very good goaltender who people are forgetting about because of Hammond's historic run.

John Gibson
STATS PRIOR TO APR. 9 GAMES
RECORD: 13-8-0
GAA: 2.60 | SVP: .914
BOUNCE-BACK CANDIDATES

John Gibson -- An early-season injury and the hot play of Frederik Andersen pushed Gibson out of the picture for the Anaheim Ducks. Gibson and Andersen have been battling to be the Ducks' starter in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round, and Gibson, who turns 22 in July, will have a great chance to come in next season and be the starter for a good Anaheim team.

Antti Niemi -- It's strange to consider Niemi a bounce-back candidate given he has a higher save-percentage this season (.914) than last season (.913) when he won a career-high 39 games. An unrestricted free agent, a fresh start in a new city might do Niemi some good.

Jimmy Howard -- It seems like the problem every season with Howard is as soon as he starts to build momentum, he gets injured, derailing his progress. After playing 63 games in each of his first two seasons, Howard has not played 60 in a single season since. There are times when Howard looks like a top goaltender, but again, it seems like the question is always whether or not he'll stay healthy.

OFFSEASON PREVIEW

Devan Dubnyk
STATS PRIOR TO APR. 9 GAMES
RECORD: 36-13-4
GAA: 2.04 | SVP: .930
Free agency: It's not a deep free-agent market when it comes to goaltenders and no goalie will be more coveted than Dubnyk, a pending unrestricted free agent. He has been lights out for the Minnesota Wild since he was acquired in January and carried them into the postseason. Niemi will also be unrestricted, and with Alex Stalock and Troy Grosenick waiting in the wings, the Sharks may be willing to part ways with Niemi.

Hammond and Jonas Gustavsson are two intriguing pending unrestricted free agents. The former is lighting the world on fire right now, but will regress to some level, how far being the unknown. Gustavsson missed extended time for the Red Wings this season, but could land a starting job in the right situation or become a very quality backup.

Trade watch: If the New York Rangers are ever going to trade Cam Talbot, there won't ever be a better time than the offseason. Coming off an incredibly efficient stretch of hockey playing for the injured Lundqvist, Talbot has one year remaining on his contract at a reasonable cap charge, and has maintained a high level in each of his first two seasons while being given more starts.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Connor Hellebuyck

Let's complicate an already complicated situation that is the Winnipeg Jets crease. Ondrej Pavelec and Hutchinson have gone through stretches this season as the apparent starter. Pavelec is having one of his best seasons with a .919 save-percentage that is 12 points above his career average. Hutchinson, seeing the most time in the NHL in his professional career, has had hot stretches, but has a below-average save-percentage of .913.

Hellebuyck has spent the season in St. John's of the American Hockey League, where he has a .921 save percentage in 58 games. He was one of the top goaltenders in college hockey when he played two seasons at UMass Lowell, and could be the surprise starter for Winnipeg next season.


TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES

These are the final fantasy goalie rankings for the 2014-15 NHL season, including players that are or were injured. These rankings are based on how players performed this season, but also take into account expectations for next season. Use these rankings as a basis for deciding which players you should retain in keeper leagues from this season to next. Factors taken into account include potential changes in scenery (trade or free agency), injury history, breakout potential, regression, age, etc.

1 Carey Price, MTL 16 Brian Elliott, STL
2 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 17 Corey Crawford, CHI
3 Cory Schneider, NJD 18 Jonathan Quick, LAK
4 Tuukka Rask, BOS 19 Semyon Varlamov, COL
5 Pekka Rinne, NSH 20 Ryan Miller, VAN
6 Roberto Luongo, FLA 21 Cam Talbot, NYR
7 Braden Holtby, WSH (RFA) 22 John Gibson, ANA
8 Ben Bishop, TBL 23 Cam Ward, CAR
9 Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT 24 Jonas Hiller, CGY
10 Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ 25 Connor Hellebuyck, WPG
11 Steve Mason, PHI 26 Antti Niemi, SJS (UFA)
12 Craig Anderson, OTT 27 Alex Stalock, SJS
13 Devan Dubnyk, MIN (UFA) 28 Jake Allen, STL (RFA)
14 Jimmy Howard, DET 29 Scott Darling, CHI
15 Jaroslav Halak, NYI 30 Martin Jones, LAK (RFA)

In the mix: Frederik Andersen (ANA), Kari Lehtonen (DAL), Andrew Hammond (OTT; UFA), Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL), Petr Mrazek (DET), Michael Hutchinson (WPG), Ondrej Pavelec (WPG), Jonas Gustavsson (DET), Karri Ramo (CGY; UFA), Jon Gillies (CGY)

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