We continue our Fantasy Hockey Preview by looking at the class of Eastern Conference Goalies. Make sure you check out our Fantasy Page, including Blues Fantasy Preview and Western Conference Forwards. And as always, pick at your own risk! Here are Bleedin’ Blue’s top picks, overrated players, and those who may come out of nowhere to win your league:
Can’t Miss Selections
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Easily the top goalie in the Eastern Conference, Lundqvist won the 2012 Vezina Trophy for the top goaltender in the NHL. He had a career, posting a 1.97 GAA (goals against average) and a save percentage of .930, both of which were career bests. He also finally stepped up in the postseason, starting all 20 games and putting up a 1.82 GAA and a .931 save percentage. Clearly benefitting from the extra rest with the addition of backup Marty Biron, Lundqvist was able to register a TOI/G of 60:32, meaning he played more than a full game on average for every one of his starts. At 30 years old, he is just starting to reach his prime years as a goaltender, and with the further development of the Rangers’ blue line, I would expect both his wins and GAA to increase, with his TOI/G and save percentage to remain constant. Definitely a top pick in any draft.
Overrated, Risky Propositions
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
Fleury has been a solid goalie in the NHL for the better part of the last decade. In 2011-2o12, he won 42 games, and registered a respectable 2.36 GAA and a .913 save percentage. However, his exceptional amount of wins were mostly due to the Penguins explosive offense, which featured Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin. Also, Fleury was shredded in the playoffs, which hints to the fact that his age may start to be a factor in his performance. Further, his stats have dipped over the past three seasons, with last season culminating in his worst save percentage since 2006. To be sure, he is still a servicable goaltender, but in my opinion is not a starting fantasy hockey player.
Before this season, many people around the NHL believed that Bryzgalov was a premier goaltender. However, after posting a .909
save percentage and a 2.48 GAA last season, Philly may start to question the 51 million dollar contract. The situation got even worse in the playoffs, where Bryzgalov let up 3.46 GAA and only a .887 save percentage. He repeatedly let up soft goals against both the Penguins and Devils, who eliminated Philly in five games. Bryzgalov is a liability in net, and should not be a starting fantasy hockey goalie.
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
After having a mediocre seasons the past couple years for an underachieving Buffalo team, I believe Ryan Miller is bound for a bounce-back season. Posting a 2.54 GAA and a .916 save percentage, Miller was in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference, which should allow you to pick him up late in your fantasy draft. Even though the Sabres probably got less talent back in the Derek Roy trade, they definitely got two players (Steve Ott and Adam Pardy) that bring a physical presence to the ice, and should deter the amount of slot runs against Miller this year. I think Miller will get off to a better start, and lead a team that could contend for a playoff spot. Expect about a 2.5 GAA and a .920-.925 save percentage, along with a few more wins than last season.
Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes
With the addition of Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, along with the extension of stud winger Jeff Skinner, the Hurricanes appear to be a force on the offensive end. That production will undoubtedly help Ward, who registered a 2.74 GAA and a .915 save percentage, both of which were the second worst of his career. He struggled between the net as he was continually peppered by being guarded by a pretty inept defense and a similarly disappointing offense. However, I could see Ward having a big year, one possibly reminiscent of his Stanley Cup winning season in 2005-2006. Expect the GAA to be similar- around 2.65, but the save percentage and DEFINITELY wins to rise.