As part of NHL.com's preseason fantasy hockey draft coverage, NHL.com will preview each of the three positions this week, with Pete Jensen on forwards, Brian Metzer on defensemen and David Satriano on goalies. These positional outlooks will include the writer's individual standard-league rankings, offseason reaction and all the strategy and advice you'll need on draft day.
It's no surprise that Carey Price is the No. 1 goalie in fantasy hockey. Price won the goaltending Triple Crown last season, leading the NHL in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933) on his way to the Vezina and Hart trophies.
Price, who had nine shutouts, allowed one goal or fewer in 29 starts and two goals or fewer in 44 starts (two-thirds of his total starts). He had a .950 save percentage or better in 30 starts. The list can go on and on, but the bottom line is he should be drafted in the mid-to-late first round shortly after forwards Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. He was the only goalie in the top 10 in Yahoo's season-ending rankings (No. 2, behind Ovechkin) and was one of three goalies (Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild, No. 15; Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals, No. 16) to be ranked in the top 20.
Assuming you don't get Price, the next best option is Henrik Lundqvist. The New York Rangers goalie sustained a vascular injury in his neck last season that limited him to 46 games, but he reached 30 wins for the ninth straight time in a full season. His NHL career numbers (2.26 GAA, .921 save percentage) make him the No. 2 fantasy goalie, and he should be drafted in the second round.
Holtby started 72 games last season for the Capitals and was 41-20-10 with a 2.22 GAA, a .923 save percentage and nine shutouts. He signed a six-year contract in the offseason, so he won't have to worry about his future. I would recommend selecting Holtby late in the second round or early in the third.
Rounding out the top five are the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury (34-20-9, 2.32 GAA, .920 save percentage, 10 shutouts) and 2014-15 Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne, who had 41 wins (T-2nd), a 2.18 GAA (third) and a .923 save percentage (T-7th) in 64 starts for the Nashville Predators. Each should be taken in the third round.
BEST TIMESHARE TANDEMS
It's always an issue trying to figure out who will be a true No. 1 goalie and who will possibly be involved in a timeshare. Here are three teams that will begin the season without a clear No. 1:
Dallas Stars: Antti Niemi/Kari Lehtonen
Stars general manager Jim Nill said he plans to have Niemi and Lehtonen share the goaltending duties. Each is used to being a full-time starter, but barring an injury in the preseason, you should draft both or neither -- don’t take just one of them.
The Dallas Stars brought in Antti Niemi this offseason to compete with Kari Lehtonen for playing time. Targeting this tandem could pay enormous fantasy dividends, especially with a loaded offense up front. (Photo: Getty Images)
Niemi had 31 wins, a 2.59 GAA, a .914 save percentage and five shutouts in 61 games with the San Jose Sharks last season. It was the fewest wins he's had in his NHL career during a season when he played at least 60 games, and his save percentage was the worst of his career. Lehtonen was 34-17-10 with a 2.94 GAA, a .903 save percentage and five shutouts for the Stars.
Dallas has 12 back-to-back sets this season, so there should be plenty of games for each of them.
St. Louis Blues: Jake Allen/Brian Elliott
Allen had a fine rookie season, finishing first in wins (22), GAA (2.28) and shutouts (four) among first-year goalies who made at least 20 starts in 2014-15; his .913 save percentage was fourth among those rookies. Elliott (26-14-3, 2.26 GAA, .917 save percentage, five shutouts) made 45 starts to Allen's 32 (Martin Brodeur started the other five). Their numbers were very similar, but given the fact that Allen was the starter in the playoffs and Elliott allowed three or more goals in four of his final five starts in the regular season, it likely will be Elliott's job to lose.
Winnipeg Jets: Ondrej Pavelec/Michael Hutchinson
The Jets started the season with Pavelec in goal before leaning on Hutchinson more from November through February. Pavelec then started 12 of the final 14 games of the regular season and each of the Jets' four playoff games in the Western Conference First Round loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Pavelec (46 starts last season) likely will begin the season as the No. 1, with Hutchinson playing in (36 starts last season) back-to-back sets (the Jets have nine) and when Pavelec struggles.
The following teams also figure to have timeshare situations in goal: Calgary Flames (Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller), Ducks (Frederik Andersen, John Gibson, Anton Khudobin), Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson, Andrew Hammond) and Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward, Eddie Lack).
Last season's feel good story was Dubnyk, who was traded to the Wild from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14. It will be extremely difficult for him to replicate his 36 wins, 2.07 GAA, .929 save percentage and six shutouts this season. Here are four goalies on new teams who could make a fantasy impact:
Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres
Traded to Buffalo on June 26, Lehner, who played 86 games over the past five seasons with the Senators, was brought in to be the Sabres’ No. 1 goalie, general manager Tim Murray said. He played 25 games last season and never more than 36 in his NHL career, a number he almost certainly will exceed. Lehner had a 3.02 GAA and .905 save percentage last season, and although improved, it remains to be seen how much better the Sabres’ 30th-ranked offense and 29th-ranked defense will be.
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Eddie Lack moves to Carolina to compete with Cam Ward for the starting job. Coming off a strong finish to 2014-15, he has a chance to be fantasy-relevant. (Photo: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI)
Jones, the No. 24-ranked goalie on Yahoo, made a name for himself in 2013-14 when he began his NHL career 8—0-0, including three shutouts in his first six starts, and went 12-6-0 with a 1.81 GAA and .934 save percentage for the Los Angeles Kings. But he slipped last season, going 4-5-2 with a 2.25 GAA and .906 save percentage in 15 games (11 starts). After the Kings traded him to the Boston Bruins on June 26, Jones was sent to San Jose four days later and finds himself as the Sharks’ No. 1 goalie. How many games he plays and how the Sharks' style of play changes with their new additions and a new coach make it tough to get a gauge on Jones' fantasy value at the moment.
Eddie Lack, Carolina Hurricanes
Lack, one of the most popular Vancouver Canucks the past few seasons, was traded to the Hurricanes at the 2015 NHL Draft. In 41 games last season, including starts in 21 of the final 23 games, he was 18-13-4 with a 2.45 GAA and .921 save percentage. He'll compete with Ward, who enters his 11th season with Carolina and isn't getting any younger. The 31-year-old made 50 starts in 2014-15 (22-24-5, 2.40 GAA, .910 save percentage) but dealt with injuries the previous two seasons.
Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers
In 36 games last season, Talbot put up better numbers for the Rangers than Lundqvist, going 21-9-4 with a 2.21 GAA, a .926 save percentage and five shutouts. He was traded to Edmonton on June 27 and will try to bring stability to the Oilers, who used five different goalies last season. Ben Scrivens is also in the mix for playing time, but this is Talbot's job to lose. It's unrealistic to expect as good a GAA and save percentage as last season, but he could reach 20 wins and will be helped by Connor McDavid's presence.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Injuries or poor play could force some teams to call up goalies from the AHL or ride their backup. Here are four goalies whose value could increase as the season progresses:
Malcolm Subban, Boston Bruins
Subban made his first NHL start last season and allowed three goals on six shots in 31:15. He spent the past two seasons with Providence of the AHL and could be ready to make the jump to be Tuukka Rask's backup.
Joni Ortio, Calgary Flames
Joni Ortio has an uphill battle to earn playing time with Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo in the mix, but has the most long-term fantasy upside of the three goalies in Calgary. (Photo: Gerry Thomas/NHLI)
In his first NHL start, Ortio made 36 saves and shut out the Canucks on Jan. 10. He allowed five goals in his first four starts, going 4-0-0, before struggling in his final two starts while filling in for an injured Ramo. Barring another injury this season, Ortio likely will remain third on the depth chart behind Ramo and Hiller, but if he gets a chance, he could be a good pickup.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
We know Ben Bishop is tough, having played through the Stanley Cup Final with a torn groin, but the Lightning could rely more on Vasilevskiy this season once he returns from Sept. 3 surgery to remove a blood clot near his left collarbone; he is expected to miss 2-3 months. Vasilevskiy, 21, was 7-5-1 with a 2.36 GAA and .918 save in 16 regular-season games as a rookie in 2014-15. Ranked No. 38 among goalies on Yahoo, he's one of the best backup goalies to target.
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
He was Andersen's backup last season, but the Ducks traded for Khudobin this offseason. Gibson started 21 games and had a 2.60 GAA and .914 save percentage in 23 games, but Anaheim will likely use the veteran Khudobin over the 22-year old Gibson. Gibson, the 39th-ranked goalie on Yahoo, could start the season in the AHL.
TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES
Below are David Satriano's goalie rankings, which may differ from NHL.com's aggregate top 250. Use these as a basis for your selections on draft day. Standard Yahoo goalie categories include wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.
||Carey Price, MTL
||Ryan Miller, VAN
||Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
||Brian Elliott, STL
||Braden Holtby, WSH
||Andrew Hammond, OTT
||Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT
||Steve Mason, PHI
||Pekka Rinne, NSH
||Jonas Hiller, CGY
||Ben Bishop, TBL
||Cory Schneider, NJD
||Devan Dubnyk, MIN
||Ondrej Pavelec, WPG
||Jonathan Quick, LAK
||Petr Mrazek, DET
||Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ
||Frederik Andersen, ANA
||Tuukka Rask, BOS
||Antti Niemi, DAL
||Corey Crawford, CHI
||Craig Anderson, OTT
||Roberto Luongo, FLA
||Kari Lehtonen, DAL
||Semyon Varlamov, COL
||Martin Jones, SJS
||Jake Allen, STL
||Cam Talbot, EDM
||Jaroslav Halak, NYI
||Michael Hutchinson, WPG
Just missed: Eddie Lack (CAR), Jimmy Howard (DET), Robin Lehner (BUF), John Gibson (ANA), Andrei Vasilevskiy (INJ. - TBL)