Over the past few days, we have been be looking at the overall composite rankings for every position on the ice, using rankings from Yahoo (Y!), ESPN, and Pete Jensen of NHL.com. In the final installment, we're looking at the top-25 goalies.
The numbers have been crunched and Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, the reigning Vezina Tropy winner, is the consensus top-goaltending option in fantasy hockey; in fact, Rask might be the only player at his position worth grabbing in the first round of your draft.
With the obvious out of the way, let's assess the rest of the field.
Jonathan Quick will be a hot name on draft day, but we'd like to drop a massive caveat emptor on his selection. The Los Angeles Kings goalie posted a .927 even-strength save percentage last season, ranking him 11th among the league's busiest goalies (1,500+ minutes played). Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist should probably be slotted higher than Quick, regardless of his two Stanley Cup rings.
Two goaltenders in the top 10 that carry big question marks are Semyon Varlamov and Ben Bishop; both players were named Vezina Trophy finalists after sparkling seasons, but there's some mystery in terms of potential regression moving forward, especially in regards to the Colorado Avalanche. Tampa Bay is a bit of a sexy pick to be one of the league's top teams, so we'd hedge our bets on Bishop over Varlamov at this point.
Three netminders that could rise above their rankings include Anton Khudobin, Jonathan Bernier, and Braden Holtby. Despite Cam Ward's presence on the Carolina Hurricanes' roster, Khudobin appears set to become a bona fide number-one goalie, after posting a .936 even-strength save percentage in 2013-14, ranking him third in the NHL. Bernier ranked eighth in that category (.931) despite playing behind a porous defense; improvement on Toronto's back end can only help his numbers. And Holtby, who ranked ninth (.930) may be in line to benefit from playing under new head coach Barry Trotz's more defensive-minded system with the Washington Capitals.
Also, don't be surprised if Cory Schneider and Kari Lehtonen end the season as top-10 fantasy goalies.
To be honest, there are many attractive options out there, with Pekka Rinne, Ryan Miller, and Mike Smith acting as potential high-end, mid-round picks, and young players like John Gibson and Jake Allen (not listed) set to make an impact in their rookie seasons.
However, we'd be reluctant to put too much stock in the likes of Steve Mason, Corey Crawford, and Jimmy Howard, who should all be considered second-tier options.
One final wild card: Marc-Andre Fleury will not be getting a contract extension from the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the start of the season, and may be extra motivated to prove he's still an elite-level goalie, playoff performances notwithstanding. Put a big "contract-year potential" marker beside his name on draft day.
Here's a look at the full top 25:
[Stats courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com]
Feature photo courtesy of Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports