Fantasy Hockey: Goalies to build your team around | Hockey | CBC Sports

NHLFantasy Hockey: Goalies to build your team around

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013 | 12:09 AM

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Despite the fact that Predators goalie Pekka Rinne won just 15 games last season, the perennial all-star still put up a 2.43 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and five shutouts on an underachieving Nashville team. The NHL leader in wins in 2011-12 should be a good bet for a rebound season. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Despite the fact that Predators goalie Pekka Rinne won just 15 games last season, the perennial all-star still put up a 2.43 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and five shutouts on an underachieving Nashville team. The NHL leader in wins in 2011-12 should be a good bet for a rebound season. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

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With the NHL season just around the corner, fantasy hockey managers are busy feverishly researching everything there is to know about the game.

Like most good hockey teams, a fantasy team needs a solid goalie that can carry the load.

This week, CBCSports.ca's Jordan Shifman tackles the tough question of which netminders are worthy of a top selection and which ones you can steal in the later rounds when it's time to draft your championship roster.
The days of Martin Brodeur or Patrick Roy being the de facto king of the crease in the NHL are over.

No longer do you have to spend an early draft pick to ensure yourself a quality goalie.

As we saw over the past few seasons, the trend has been for teams to invest in and develop two solid goalies who can share the load and battle for starts. But last year, for several different reasons, many of the young, talented netminders took the next step, joining perennial all-stars like Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price and Jimmy Howard.

Tuukka Rask, for example, took over for the two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas last year, who went on a sabbatical from hockey, and put up stellar numbers for Boston. With a 19-10 record and a 2.00 goals against average, Rask could have easily followed in Thomas' footsteps with a Vezina win. In Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky escaped the pressure cooker of Philadelphia and took home the award for the NHL's top goalie with a record of 21-11-6 to go along with a career-best 2.00 goals against average and .932 save percentage.

So what does it all mean for this season, especially with new NHL divisions?

Parity.

There are more than 20 goalies that should get No. 1-type minutes on solid NHL teams and plenty others that have the potential to make excellent backups on your fantasy roster.

Who to go with

Despite the fact that the Nashville Predators finished second last in the West last season, Pekka Rinne still managed to post a 2.43 GAA and a .910 save percentage to go along with five shutouts (and a 15-16 record). On a better Preds team the year before, Rinne led the NHL in wins with a record of 43-18 and added a 2.39 GAA, .923 save percentage and five shutouts. In fact, the Finnish netminder has never put up fewer than five shutouts in his five-year career as a starter.

Essentially, the Predators have nowhere to go but up from last year and no matter what calibre of team he's on, Rinne is a quality workhorse. And did I mention the team's back-up is Carter Hutton? Additionally, on Thursday he was officially cleared for action after undergoing hip surgery on May 9, so his health shouldn't be a concern.

Having said all that, you can't go wrong with the league's elite like Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford or the aforementioned Lundqvist, Price and Howard, but you're sure to pay more for them.

Who to stay away from

Don't fall into the trap of taking reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky at the top of the heap. Though the Columbus netminder has always had decent numbers (even in Philadelphia), go with the sure thing if you're planning on using a high pick. Don't forget that last season was a shortened season and though Bobrovsky's 21-11-6 record was a great one, he's yet to prove that he can carry a heavy workload throughout an entire 82-game season.

Sleeper picks

Marc-Andre Fleury  - For years, Fleury was a top-tier pick in any fantasy hockey draft. But after last year's playoff meltdown, subsequently losing the starting job to Tomas Vokoun and then being snubbed by Team Canada for the Olympics, it's almost a guarantee many fantasy managers will look right past the Penguins goalie. That's your cue to take advantage as he slides. He may not have be able to handle the pressure in the playoffs lately and he may start out of the gate a little slow, but Fleury is still an elite regular season netminder. Just look at last season's stats: 23-8-0 with a 2.39 GAA and a .916 save percentage. In his previous four seasons, Fleury won at least 35 games and never posted a GAA over 2.67.

Cam Ward - Having played just 17 games last season due to injury (9-6-1), Ward may get overlooked in many pools. The Canes weren't great without him last season and he will surely bring some much needed stability back between the pipes. In the 2011-12 season, Ward went 30-23-13 with a 2.74 GAA and a .915 save percentage. And in three of his previous four seasons, Carolina's No. 1 goalie recorded at least 37 victories and four shutouts.

Ryan Miller - Everyone seems to think that Miller and the Buffalo Sabres will be basement dwellers this year. Perhaps the team won't be a Stanley Cup contender, but this is Miller we're talking about - the same goalie that was an outright superstar four years ago leading up to and during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Yes, Miller was just 17-17-5 with no shutouts, but he still had a GAA under three and a .915 save percentage. If you can get him late, don't hesitate.

Roberto Luongo - Don't underestimate Canucks' new/old starter Luongo's desire to prove wrong the doubters and make Team Canada's roster in Sochi.

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