Fantasy Hockey Picks – Western Conference Goalies
Goalies are a hard part of any fantasy draft pick, with a variety of factors affecting the potential outcome of their season. I have made up a list here of my thoughts on the goalies in the Western Conference and what this season may have in store. Hope this list gives everyone something to think about, enjoy!
With the loss of Scott Niedermayer, Jonas Hiller may be put under a bit more pressure every night, but putting up decent numbers last year was not solely due to a good defenseman.
Hiller started nearly sixty games last season and with Giguere out of the picture, expect him to pick up a few more starts, and likely a few more wins. Giguere’s lost presence will also force Hiller to be the only go to guy, this new responsibility could push Hiller to a new level. Hiller may not be a top round pick, but if you can get him somewhere in the middle of a draft he will put up good numbers with a chance at putting up great numbers.
Expect another solid year from a solid goaltender in Mikka Kiprusoff. Large amount of wins, high save percentage, low GAA and a few shutouts will be the result of picking Kiprusoff up and doing so earlier on in the draft would be beneficial to any team.
Although they went through a MAJOR overhaul in the offseason the Blackhawks are still a strong team, and with the acquisition of Marty Turco the back end gets a boost.
Niemi, despite a strong regular season, and playoff performance, was let go, and Turco will fill the net for a majority of the season. Turco did not have a tremendous amount of wins last season, but his team was not the defending Cup champions either, and he still managed a .913 save percentage, look for that number to increase this year, along with his wins. Another perk that comes with Turco is his unrivaled ability to play the puck, expect to see Turco a lot this year, if your pool gives big bonuses for goalie assists then this keeper will be a hot item.
Craig Anderson had a spectacular 09/10 season and although his numbers won’t likely be quite as high as they were, they will not drop very far.
Colorado is a young team that is growing quickly into a competitive force in the conference, and with Anderson backing them up they will have a season good enough to land them in the playoffs again. Anderson had 7 SO last year and if he puts up similar numbers again he will bring great value to your team.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon put up comparable save percentages last season (.901, and .903 respectively), and split the starts 55, 27. Expect a slight battle for the starting position with Garon being the underdog, Mason however may get out of his slump and post some of his rookie year numbers, he will be a good pick that you should be able to snatch later in the draft, and if he has another breakout year the pick will look ingenious. At the very least he will have a decent amount of wins and he is very capable of having a high number of shutouts.
Turco’s time with the stars is done, and they have brought in Kari Lehtonen to fill the void, with Raycroft backing him up, this should make for a decent combo. However, this is heavily dependant on the oft-injured Lehtonen staying healthy. He has the ability to be a strong goaltender, but with his lack of consistency do not look to pick him up too early. He will be available late in the draft and this is because of his lack of games played per season, do not expect a whole lot different this season, but don’t completely rule him out because, if he stays even moderately healthy he will put up good numbers.
Detroit Red Wings
Chris Osgood has been beat out by Jimmy Howard for starting position in Detroit and Howard has looked good between the pipes.
Detroit’s 09/10 campaign was injury plagued and had some of the top players see drops in their numbers, this year will be different for them, with a healthy roster expect the Wings to do quite well this season and land themselves in the top five, with Howard getting most of the wins.
The Oilers have done a good job getting better, with the likes of Eberle, Paajarvi, and Hall being put on the team they are set to start growing, however they are still in a desperate situation at the back end. Khabibulan’s DUI this year, and last year’s injury problems make him a pick that one should be very weary of, he may not end up playing a whole lot this season. With Dubnyk and Deslauriers fighting for the remaining starts I would stay away from an Oilers goaltender altogether.
Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan is making this a very hard team to pick for, both of them that is.
Quick and Bernier are both excellent goalies and will both be fighting for the starting job. Quick had a good year last year and was able to handle a handful of starts, but with the pressure of Bernier he might not be able to handle the heat. Likely Quick will get a majority of the starts, but not as dominant an amount as he had last year. Quick will likely be a quick pick, but if he starts to slip Bernier will be waiting to take the throne. Getting either goalie would be beneficial for the team but I don’t think that Bernier should be taken too early on, if you can pick him up in the later rounds he might end up getting you a lot of points.
Niklas Backstrom will be starting a very large percentage of the games this year, even more so than last year. With Josh Harding’s recent and awful injury, a torn ACL and MCL, Backstrom will be expected to pick up a few extra starts, and although he might not get a tremendous amount of wins, expect a few more, and his relatively low save percentage last year is not something that I would expect again, so if your pool uses save percentage as a way of getting points, he might be a worthwhile pick.
Pekka Rinne will no longer have the competition of Dan Ellis, and so he will get a large amount of starts. He had a great season last year with lots of wins and shutouts and a high save percentage.
Watch Rinne to get 35-40 wins and a handful of shutouts, a lot of people will likely be quick to look him over seeing that he is on the less-than-remarkable Nashville Predators, so he may be able to be picked up a bit later than a goalie of comparable stats on a more notable team.
Ilya Bryzgalov had a breakout year last season, and don’t be too surprised if he has similar numbers in the upcoming one.
Although the Phoenix coyotes have had their fair share of troubles over these couple of years, they seem to be getting a grip and are making up for lost time, they shocked the hockey world by coming in 4th in the Western Conference and although they may not be quite as spectacular this season they will likely be around the same place, with Bryzgalov picking up a bunch of wins accompanied by a handful of shutouts.
San Jose Sharks
Antti Niemi went from backup goalie to starting Stanley Cup Champion over the course of last season, and although he probably isn’t extremely stoked on competing for spot #1 again this year his competition in Antero Nittymaki won’t be too stressful.
The sharks are known for their good regular season statistics and this year won’t be any different, with them likely taking the Pacific Division title. Niemi will likely get most of the starts, and although not as large a number as Kiprusoff or Backstrom will get, he will likely put up a large amount of wins. Niemi would be a good goalie to have on any fantasy team and will likely have numbers that are at least semi-reminiscent of the numbers that Evgeni Nabokov put up in previous years.
St. Louis Blues
Jaroslav Halak, the magic man of the Canadiens playoff run, will likely end up being a magic man in the blues’ upcoming season.
He started only half the games of last season and will have to adjust for the increased workload but Halak will be a good backstop to an underrated St. Louis team. He nearly beat the Washington Capitals on his own in the playoffs and was a major factor against the Pittsburgh Penguins too. He will get most of the starts over backup Ty Conklin and will be able to win a large amount of games, however, people will likely be nervous about picking him because of the recent history of his team, so he may go later in the draft, but, any rabid Canadiens fan may just scoop him up early on based on his tremendous success in the 09/10 playoffs, always be weary of you opponents.
The Canucks did a lot in the off-season to address the rather serious issue they were having in their defensive core. Acquiring Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra, and Dan Hamhuis added a tremendous amount of depth to the team.
Roberto Luongo will be one of the beneficiaries of this off-season work, as he will not be under as much pressure this season. Luongo has also relinquished the “C” so he will not have to deal with issues of the press, all in all Luongo will be able to concentrate better on a lesser workload. Expect a good season. Luongo will likely be one of the top ranking goalies in stats. He will get a ton of starts and probably rack up the wins. Expect him to go early in the drafts, and if you can pick him, do so.