Weekly Fantasy: Top 20 goaltenders to draft this season

With the 2010-11 season slated to start on Thursday, October 7th, it’s time to have a look at the top 20 goaltenders to draft in your fantasy hockey league and at factors to consider when drafting your goaltenders. Is he prone to injury? Who is the backup goaltender? Do the team play many back to back games during the season?

First, let’s have a look at the back to back schedule for each team:
Source: Daily Faceoff

We can that teams like Buffalo (Miller), Carolina (Ward), New Jersey (Brodeur) and NYIslanders (Dipietro) have all at least 20 B2Bs during the season, which means over 40 games played on consecutive nights, while teams like Dallas, Edmonton and Vancouver (Luongo) play only 12 or less B2Bs.

You might want to temper the number of expected starts of Ryan Miller, Cam Ward and Martin Brodeur as a result of these B2Bs, especially for Brodeur since he’s not getting any younger and the Devils now have a quality backup in Johan Hedberg. At the opposite end of the chart, we have Roberto Luongo who should benefit from this trend and the fact he abandoned the Canucks’ captaincy.

We also have to consider are the band-aid (injury-prone) goaltenders are as they have a tendency to miss a chunk of games even if they are the clear number 1 tender on their respective team.

Rick Dipietro (NYI), Kari Lehtonen (DAL) and Pascal Leclaire (OTT) all have a bad tendency to miss extended periods of time. Lehtonen only played more than 50 games once in his NHL career, while Dipietro has only started twelve games in the past two seasons. As for Leclaire, he only had one good NHL season in 2008-07 when he recorded 24 wins in 54 games. He has been mediocre at best during his other NHL campaigns. Avoid these three goaltenders at all cost.

Goaltending battles:
Atlanta Thrashers -> Chris Mason vs Ondrej Pavelec
Edmonton Oilers -> Nikolai Khabibulin vs Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers vs Devan Dubnyk
Ottawa Senators -> Brian Elliott vs Pascal Leclaire
Philadelphia Flyers -> Micheal Leighton (injured) vs Brian Boucher
San Jose Sharks -> Antero Niittymaki vs Antti Niemi
Tampa Bay Lightning -> Mike Smith vs Dan Ellis
Toronto Maple Leafs -> Jonas Gustavsson vs J-S Giguere
Washington Capitals -> Semyon Varlamov vs Michael Neuvirth

The above battles mean there is no clear number 1 goaltender on these teams, which will likely limit the starts of each goaltender, this limiting their fantasy value in rotisserie or head-to-head formats.

Top 20 goaltenders to draft this season:
1. Roberto Luongo VAN 70 GP, 43 wins, 5 SO = 101 points
2. Martin Brodeur NJ 72 GP, 41 wins, 6 SO = 99 points
3. Jaroslav Halak STL 68 GP, 39 wins, 7 SO = 99 points
4. Pekka Rinne NAS 73 GP, 38 wins, 7 SO = 97 points
5. Ilya Bryzgalov PHX 72 GP, 36 wins, 8 SO = 96 points
6. Ryan Miller BUF 71 GP, 37 wins, 7 SO = 95 points
7. Jimmy Howard DET 70 GP, 38 wins, 6 SO = 94 points
8. Henrik Lundqvist NYR 69 GP, 36 wins, 7 SO = 93 points
9. Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 69 GP, 39 wins, 4 SO = 90 points
10. Craig Anderson COL 72 GP, 36 wins, 6 SO = 90 points
11. Cam Ward CAR 68 GP, 37 wins, 4 SO = 86 points
12. Mikka Kiprusoff CGY 70 GP, 36 wins, 4 SO = 84 points
13. Marty Turco CHI 67 GP, 37 wins, 3 SO = 83 points
14. Jonathan Quick LA 65 GP, 35 wins, 4 SO = 82 points
15. Jonas Hiller ANA 70 GP, 36 wins, 3 SO = 81 points
16. Carey Price MTL 68 GP, 35 wins, 3 SO = 79 points
17. Tuukka Rask BOS 64 GP, 33 wins, 4 SO = 78 points
18. Tomas Vokoun FLA 66 GP, 30 wins, 6 SO = 78 points
19. Steve Mason CBS 68 GP, 31 wins, 5 SO = 77 points
20. Niklas Backstrom MIN 66 GP, 32 wins, 3 SO = 73 points

The goaltender who manages to hang on the starting job for the most part of the season for the San Jose Sharks, the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers could easily slide into the Top 20 goaltenders to draft this season, but at the moment, there is no clear number 1 on these teams. In deep fantasy drafts, it would be a good idea to pick both goaltenders in order to maximize the number of victories you can get.

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About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com

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