We’re finally getting to the part of 2016 where it’s not just NFL coverage – the NHL and soon the NBA will both be in everyone’s faces, a happy sight for most sports fans, for whom the off-season is a tortuously long process.
To prep you for your fantasy hockey coverage, here is a list of the top 10 goalies that you can get in your draft this year. A note, however: if you are a regular reader of ours here at Triple Coverage, you’ll know that I espouse the philosophy of getting bargains where possible. I apply that philosophy specifically to quarterbacks in the NFL, and that same ideal can be done with goalies in the NHL – it’s great to get a good one, but value can be had later in the draft.
With that in mind, here’s the list!
- Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Holtby may not be the person you’d expect at the top of the list – perhaps you were thinking of Carey Price (a face we’ll see shortly)? The truth is, the Capitals are perhaps one of the all-around best teams in the league, which lends itself well to picking up wins with your goalie, and Holtby is good enough he’ll have a pretty good save percentage, not to mention the defencemen around him.
2. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
As long as he’s healthy, Price is easily the best goalie in the league, by far. In stark contrast to Holtby, however, the team around him – especially the d-men – are not the most talented in the league. With the swap of Subban for Weber – who is excellent, as we all know – the defence isn’t changing all that much, but the Canadian Canadien will still be tested more often than fans would probably like. Or not – Price really is that good.
3. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have been one of the best teams in the league over the past few years, and it’s hard not to notice – they sent a league-high 11 players to the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, and Bishop was one of them. He is fast, agile, and has a good head on his shoulders – and most importantly, a strong supporting cast.
4. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
The netminder for a perennial contender is always going to be on this list, especially for a team that has Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook clearing the way in front. The Hawks aren’t perfect, no, but they’re good enough that having Crawford as the last line of defence means that they’ll likely win more games than not.
5. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Despite losing in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, the Sharks remain a deadly threat. One of the league’s best offensive teams, they are also sneakily good on defence, and that is often led by Jones’ play. He had a sterling end to the year – again, the loss in the last games of the year notwithstanding – and is probably one of the best values on this list.
6. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Quick burst onto the scene a few years ago, and in helping the Kings capture several Cups in a few scant seasons, has become a household name to the hockey-watching world. With players like Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin in front of him already, Quick should be in line for a good year – as always.
7. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
The most handsome man on this list, Lundqvist is coming off a different start to the year after Team Sweden was eliminated from the World Cup of Hockey by Team Europe – that doesn’t happen every year, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, he’ll be ready to go for the Rangers, a team that already promises to make some noise deep into the playoffs as usual. How far they get remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the team will live and die by King Henrik’s play.
8. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Perhaps holding the most value in the top ten – even more so than Jones – is Rinne, the netminder for both the Predators and Team Finland. His value, as high as it is, can only go up, really, barring injury: he plays for a defensive-minded coach in Peter LaViolette, he has had P.K. Subban added to an-already stout defence, and has gotten a nice warm up for the season by playing against NHL-calibre players in the World Cup. What more could you ask for?
9. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
After a bit of a dropoff last yer, Rask is ready to go back to the stardom which he is accustomed to. His save percentage was down from his career average, yes – .924 to .915 – but he is capable of more. With new acquisitions like David Backes and Dominic Moore on offence, the defence will have to step up, and if Rask is good to go, he can be a valuable asset to your fantasy team.
10. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
After a decent showing for the experimental Team North America at the World Cup, Jones is going back to the Ducks for the season’s start – while there’s not much depth behind him, the Ducks play an offensive style that suits Jones – namely, he doesn’t see the puck all that much. Of course, he’ll have to be ready for chances when they come, but if he can maintain his play from last season, he’ll be a good value as the 10th best goalie on this list.
Honourable Mentions: Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins; Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils; Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues; Brian Elliott, Calgary Flames