Thursday, October 4, 2007

Slap Shots: A Ranking of Fantasy Hockey Goalies

With the NHL 2007-08 season kicking off tonight, many fantasy hockey owners are still trying to figure out who to play in net. Rather than make you wait until some statistics flash on the scoreboard, here are a ranking of NHL goalies for the upcoming season from yours truly, the newest hockey columnist at

Eastern Conference

(1) Martin Brodeur, NJD – everyone says that this is the year that the machine known as the Devils doesn’t win the division, but I have always been one to say that the one consistent thing throughout the decade plus of Devils’ excellence is the play of Martin Brodeur, they will find enough scoring to be in every game.

(2) Tomas Vokoun, FLA – A big addition to one of the best young teams in the league, who couldn’t come to an agreement the previous season with Roberto Luongo, who is one of the best in the league. Vokoun makes the Panthers a dangerous team every night. With him, I can see the Panthers making a run at a playoff spot this season.

(3) Ryan Miller, BUF – Miller bumped veteran Sabre goalie Marty Biron to the Flyers, and will have to be good consistently for Buffalo to be a repeat division champ after losing Chris Drury. He has a very good, mobile defense in front of him, and is consistent night after night,

(4) Henrik Lundqvist, NYR – His play in the second half of last season was the reason why the Rangers made a run to the second round, and almost the conference finals last season. He is definitely a player to watch, and can be streaky, played 3 preseason games and gave up 10 in 2, and then gave up 1 in the other. He doesn’t have the best defense in front of him, and that sometimes will come up and beat him.

(5) Martin Biron , PHI – A key acquisition at the trade deadline, he is going to be key in the resurgence of the Flyers. A good mix on D in front of him will limit opposing shots against.

(6) Rick DiPietro, NYI – One of the best puck handling goalies in the league, he can be worth the price of admission himself. Every year he gets better and better, and will again be the X factor for the overall success of the Islanders this season. Might not play in as many games this season due to emergence of Wade Dubielewicz as a very solid backup. Also one of the best in the league along with Lundqvist in a shootout situations. (Professor's Note: Unfortunately, DiPietro is not trying to prove his value for the free-agent market, as he's under contract with the "Fishstix" for 14 more seasons.)

(7) Olaf Kolzig, WAS – A veteran presence who has a much improved team in front of him this season, and seems to be re-energized with the promising youth in the organization. Is capable of stealing games by himself

(8) Marc Andre Fleury, PIT – One of the young stars on a team loaded with them, the reason he is ranked in the lower half is he has the tendency to give up too many rebounds. The addition of Darryl Sydor on D should help.

(9) Cam Ward, CAR- Inconsistent last season to say the least, will he revert to the Conn Smythe winning level or was that a flash in the pan?

(10) Johan Holmqvist, TB – A soild goalie but on a team that plays such a high risk game, and with the emergence of Karri Ramo, might not play the bulk of the games

(11) Vesa Toskala, TOR – The next in line of experiments in goal for the Maple Leafs, might be the answer, the Sharks and legendary US goalie coach Warren Strelow know how to develop quality goalies. The question – can he handle the media circus of playing in TOR?

(12) Cristobal Huet, MON – Went from MVP candidate one year to inconsistency the next, same situation as Ward there, and has a hotshot young goalie in Carey Price behind him – I designate him as a player to watch.

(13) Ray Emery, OTT – Had a solid season, but an awful Cup finals, will the fans in Ottawa forgive him, or will one bad game here lead to lots of inconsistency? With the defense he has, he doesn’t see many shots, needs to work on focus.

(14) Kari Lehtonen, ATL – He is capable of great stretches, but so far lacks the consistency to be a number 1. Was benched in the playoffs for career backup Johan Hedberg, on a short leash.
(15) Manny Fernandez, BOS – Will more than likely split time with Tim Thomas in goal, neither one is a super goalie, and gets exposed by extended playing time. Also has a young, inexperienced defense in front of him besides Chara.

Western Conference

(1) Roberto Luongo, VAN – The main reason why Vancouver went as far as they did last season, and will need to be as good this year. Is capable of the spectacular.

(2) JS Giguere, ANA- Had a very solid Cup and Playoffs and would more that likely had won the Conn Smythe if not for Scott Niedermayer. Will be key again for the Ducks as they look to defend.

(3) Marty Turco, DAL – Playoff failure after playoff failure he keeps stacking up numbers in the regular season. One of the best shootout men too.

(4) Miika Kiprusoff, CGY – Capable of taking that team deep into the playoffs without much offense when healthy

(5) Evgeny Nabokov, SJS – Finally the Man this season after the trade of Toskala to TOR. Has a team that is favored to possibly to win the Cup this season in front of him

(6) Niklas Backstrom, MIN – Doesn’t see many shots and stops the overwhelming majority of the shots he does see in the Minnesota style of play with Jacques Lemaire as coach.

(7) Jose Theodore, COL - Seems to be rejuvenated this season after hitting rock bottom in his career, if not, Peter Budaj will see the majority of action. Having Scott Hannan on D will help a lot.

(8) Dominik Hasek, DET – Not the Dominator as he once was, still very good, a risk at age 43. (Professor's Note: When the SportsJudge HMO launches next week, our team of doctors will analyze the likelihood of a 43-year old goalie staying injury free).

(9) Chris Mason, NAS – First season as the starter, his emergence forced management to trade Vokoun

(10) Curtis Joseph, PHX – Best player on a real young team with some young guns to watch.

(11) Jonathan Bernier, LA – 19 year old rookie made team with great camp, looked like the real deal in season opener in London.

(12) Dwayne Roloson, EDM – Career backup in second season as starter on bad team.

(13) Nikolai Khabibulin, CHI – Hasn’t been healthy the past few years and when healthy, hasn’t regained the Cup winning form from 2004.

(14) Pascal Leclaire, CLB – Stay away. I can provide analysis here, but sometimes you just have to trust me!
(15) Manny Legace, STL – Inconsistency personified, not a recommendation

Dave Horowitz is a Fantasy Hockey Expert at His column, Dave's Slap Shots, will appear throughout the NHL season at SportsJudge Blog.

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