Skill vs. Opportunity

Justin Goldman




Remind me to let Dobber Nation choose the lesson plan more often. All of the requests were quite astute, so rest assured I'll be doing this more often. Now a few of you posed the same question: who will be this season's breakout goalie? You thirst for that answer because it could turn your entire season around. But alas, that question is my topic for Dobber's upcoming fantasy guide, so I chose another question that would act as a perfect prelude to the answer which so many of you seek.

How should a fantasy GM weigh skill level (talent & ability) versus opportunity?
This is a great question (WTG, Sentium) and an interesting one because it's completely unique to all fantasy managers. Every goalie is different and every team has different dynamics when it comes to dishing out the minutes played. So what, exactly, should fantasy managers focus on in order to find the goalie poised to be the next Hiller or Clemmensen? Which one matters more?

The best way to break this down is to separate the question into two parts. First, we have skill level, which can be represented by everything from technique and physical features to mental strength. Then there's opportunity, which includes the infinite spectrum of situations that exist when it comes to a goalie's increased playing time and value.

But before you can compare the two parts to find your breakout goalie, you'll need to know the value of each part.


Skill level should be further broken down into its own two parts; mental toughness and technique or talent level.

For mental toughness, first you need to discern how the goalie generally competes. Ask yourself these questions: is he a big-save goalie? Has he stolen games at the AHL or CHL level? Does he have a history of elevating his game right before the playoffs? Does he even have any playoff success at all in his entire career? Basically, you just want to find out if he's been through some pressure-filled situations before. If so, how did he perform?*

As you know, mental toughness can mean so many different things and touch on so many different psychological aspects. But for the topic at hand, you should focus mainly on confidence. That one word means so much to a pro goaltender's abilities, and if you don't know what I mean, I'll quickly explain it through a real-life example.

Peter Budaj was primed to be a break-out goalie last season. With Jose Theodore heading to Washington and Andrew Raycroft just trying to salvage his NHL career for one more season, all Budaj had to do was put together a strong training camp and then balloon into the undisputed starter by the end of October.

But that didn't even come close to happening. And the sole reason for this stemmed from