Top 10 (Fantasy) Goaltenders in the NHL

by Dobber Sports on April 8, 2013 | (0 Comments)



Price Angus Certified


Who are the best goaltenders to own in fantasy hockey? The list continues to change considerably from year to year....


I have a few general rules when it comes to building a team in a fantasy hockey keeper league. One of the more important ones is to not plan beyond a two or three year window. You are not building a real NHL club, and too often we place an emphasis on age, upside, and potential over proven veterans with gas still left in the tank. So using my general rule, take a look at your team(s). Can you realistically say you will have a shot at winning the league at some point within the next two or three seasons? If not, time to scrap the rebuild and start adding proven NHL talent.

Here are my past lists ranking the best (fantasy) goaltenders in the NHL:

Keeping the above rule in mind, I have compiled a list of the top ten keeper league goaltenders  to own (assuming standard keeper league rules and scoring categories). Using the two or three season scope, I had to balance proven production with younger goalies who are making a name for themselves in the NHL (or elsewhere).


Clarifying what “standard categories” means, here is the league format that I am basing my selections on:

  • 12 to 15 teams
  • Start 4 C, 4 LW, 4 RW, 6 D, 2 G (5 Bench)
  • G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP (power play points), GWG (game winning goals), Hits, SOG (shots on goal)
  • Wins, Saves, SO, GAA, SV %


Goaltenders are difficult to evaluate relative to skaters (in fantasy hockey, at least). Thankfully, we have learned a lot over the years from Justin Goldman, who remains my go-to source for all goaltending information. And a keeper league scope changes things a bit (although the top goalie on my list is also the best goalie in the league in my opinion).

I also consulted the DobberHockey forums for some help in putting this list together, and you can check some other people’s thoughts and rankings right here.

1. Carey Price

Rank in 2012: 3
Rank in 2011: 2
Rank in 2010: 10


Price is the best goaltender in the league. He is extremely fluid and efficient in net, and he never looks rattled. Probably because he never is rattled. His calm demeanor has been a staple of his game as far back as minor hockey. He was the exact same type of goaltender in the WHL, AHL, and internationally for Canada. Montreal plays a structured defensive game, but their success starts and ends with #31 in goal. Price is young, confident, and in a great situation to post fantastic goaltending numbers for the forseeable future. A slam dunk for the top spot.

2. Tuukka Rask

Rank in 2012: 6
Rank in 2011: Honourable Mention (Tim Thomas effect)
Rank in 2010: 4


The rich get richer - Boston won the 2011 Stanley Cup thanks in large part to the heroics of Tim Thomas (who was deservingly rewarded with the Conn Smythe). After Thomas went MIA on Boston last year, the team gladly promoted Rask to the starter's position. The only thing holding Rask back in previous years was his lack of experience with a heavy workload - he has looked great this season as Boston's starting goalie, and the best is yet to come.


Here's a great read by Justin Goldman on Rask from last summer.

3. Henrik Lundqvist

Rank in 2012: 1
Rank in 2011: 1
Rank in 2010: 2


The King has been dethroned. Lundqvist's fall to number three isn't so much a reflection of decline in his game as it is the emergence of Price in Montreal and Rask in Boston. Lundqvist is still a phenomenal goaltender who stifles opposing shooters with his unique style. He's only 31 - there is a lot of hockey left in him. While the Rangers haven't been as stifling defensively as usual this year, injuries can be blamed. However, the team hasn't been executing as well as they have in previous seasons, which may be cause for concern. Lundqvist's numbers have taken a bit of a hit because of that.

4. Cory Schneider

Rank in 2012: 9
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked

Although the Luongo trade saga has dragged on about a year longer than most expected, Schneider has still found a way to emerge as an elite goaltender in the NHL. He is extremely proficient technically (right behind Price in that regard), and he uses his size and speed in goal to challenge opposing shooters. He isn't the best puckhandling goaltender, but he is learning to play within his limitations in that regard. The rest of his game is near-flawless.


Like Rask, the only concern was whether he could handle a starter's workload. Schneider's game seems to improve the more he plays, although we won't have a firm answer to this question until Luongo is finally out of Vancouver (this summer).

5. Pekka Rinne
Rank in 2012: 4
Rank in 2011: 5

Rank in 2010: Honourable Mention

If you are a value investor, this summer may be the best (and only) time to acquire Rinne. He hasn't been himself this season - sure, the Suter departure could be one factor, but Rinne hasn't been as mentally sharp as he has been in past years. His glove hand is still the best in the league (where pucks go to die), and he has zero competition from other goaltenders in the organization. Expect a strong bounceback season in 2013-14.


Goldman on Rinne's 'constant motion', and why that makes him a successful goaltender.

6. Kari Lehtonen

Rank in 2012: Honourable Mention
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked

Kari Lehtonen's path to elite status has been a long journey, and it took a number of injuries, setbacks, and eventually a trade to Dallas to get him on the right path. He has every attribute you want in a franchise goalie - he can steal games, he's big, aggressive, and durable (not something you would have read about him earlier on in his career).


On that note, he has had a few minor injuries this year (groin related). I may be looking at this wrong, but I'd blame the lockout for most of the groin injuries around the league - condensed training camp, condensed season, less time to recover and train. Lehtonen does have a track record of injuries, but it doesn't concern me too much (although you may feel differently).


The Stars are a team rebuilding, so Lehtonen's GAA and win total will reflect that. However, he will keep the team closer to playoff contention than they probably should be, and I expect them to be very aggressive over the next few years as they attempt to assemble a winner in Big D. Consider Kari elite, says Goldman.


A "mastadonic stop" indeed:


7. Jonathan Quick

Rank in 2012: 2
Rank in 2011: 7
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked

Quick's drop from the second spot isn't really indicative of any significant decline in his play. Let me expand on that a bit. I don't think Quick is a worse goalie than he was last season. Was his value inflated when I wrote the 2012 list? Probably, yeah. He was in the middle of a ridiculous stretch of hockey. The Kings are a great team (arguably the best in hockey on many nights), and Quick has a long-term deal that will keep him in Los Angeles for a long while.


His back injury is a bit of a concern (back injuries worry me, but it would be a bit hypocritical to brush off Lehtonen's injuries and then knock Quick down for his), and Jonathan Bernier has stolen a few of his starts this season (although many expect Bernier to have a new home this summer or soon after).


8. Craig Anderson

Rank in 2012: Not Ranked
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Honourable Mention

It has gotten to the point where it is impossible to ignore what Anderson is doing. There haven't been many goalies as dominant as he has been over the past few years. The only thing that stopped him from likely earning  Vezina nomination this season was a sprained ankle.


He will eventually have to battle with Robin Lehner for the starting gig in Ottawa (Lehner is the real deal), but for now, Anderson is the man for the Senators (he has two years left on his contract - an incredible cap hit of $3.1 million). Bryan Murray is the best GM in hockey.


9. Antti Niemi

Rank in 2012: Not Ranked
Rank in 2011: Not Ranked
Rank in 2010: Not Ranked

I've never been a fan of Niemi's in previous years (hence him never being ranked on the list). Sure, he has a Stanley Cup ring, but that was due in large part to playing behind a dominant Chicago squad. However, over the past two seasons (and this one, in particular), he has really emerged as a viable fantasy stud. He has always had the talent to steal games, but consistency was lacking. He'd have a sensational week and then get shelled in a game or two. As a poolie (especially in a weekly league), that made it awfully tough to rely on him for consistent production.


The Sharks aren't nearly as good up front as they once were. Their defense has been bolstered (Brad Stuart, most notably), but the biggest difference has been Niemi's improvement. He's been their best player on more than a few nights this season.


10. Roberto Luongo


Rank in 2012: 10

Rank in 2011: 3

Rank in 2010: 1


Is it too early to order a Flyers "LUONGO" jersey? Kidding aside, it would not completely surprise me to see the Flyers buy out Bryzgalov and bring Luongo in. Roberto is definitely better than the 10th best goalie in the league (his consistency has been unparalleled save for Lundqvist), but right now his future status is in limbo.


His contract doesn't "suck."


At least for whatever team trades for him. The Canucks would bear the brunt of any cap penalty if (when) he retires early. Luongo's salary drops down to $1.5 million in 2019-20 - I would bet every single dollar I have that he hangs up the skates that summer. His cap hit ($5.3 million) is very manageable for a proven and elite goaltender. And an incredibly funny one, too. His durability and consistency should be commended (and quite frankly, valued, by poolies - look at the variance with goalies from year to year).



Very Honourable Menton*:

Corey Crawford

Crawford is another goalie who has taken huge strides forward over the past few years. I started to pay more attention to him after the 2011 first round series against the Canucks - he was fantastic in all of the seven games, keeping Chicago in it until the very end. He benefits from playing behind a great team, and that leads to better stats and more wins. 


*I realize having 11 goalies on a top 10 list is a bit of a cop out, but Crawford was on my list all year (up until a few weeks ago). However, he has looked a bit shaky (soft goals), and Ray Emery has been fantastic. A tiny seed of doubt has been planted.

Honourable Mentions:

Jacob Markstrom - A lack of experience is the only thing keeping the towering Swede off of this list

Sergei Bobrovsky - If 'Bob' can carry his stellar play over into 2013-14, he'll find a way to crack the top 10 list. Right now, his sample size is a bit small.

Ryan Miller - A change of scenery is needed for Miller, who will likely find himself playing elsewhere next season. He hasn't been the same goalie since his phenomenal 2009-10 season.

Jimmy Howard - A good goalie on a team in transition - I like Howard, but had to pick 10 goalies.

Cam Ward - Too inconsistent, and the 'Canes as a team are too inconsistent defensively for my liking.

Mike Smith - The uncertainty of free agency looms over Smith - will teams be scared off because of the Bryzgalov effect?

Marc-Andre Fleury - Good goalie, great team.

Other Top 10 Lists from 2013:




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