Reality Check, Part 4: The Masked Men

Glen Hoos

2011-11-06

 

 

Tim Thomas

 

 

Ed. Note: This is the fourth and final instalment in a series in which we've looked at different aspects of the NHL game and how to value them appropriately in your fantasy league scoring, with the objective of creating scoring systems that reflect real life value as closely as possible. Click here for previous entries: The Power Game; A Case for the Defence; Special Agents.

 


As a certain segment of Vancouver Canucks fans would be more than happy to point out, goaltending is the most important position in hockey. A lights-out stopper can make a bad team competitive, a good team great and a great team unbeatable. A leaky tender, well… at the risk of dredging up painful memories for some of you, let's just say it's tough to win when your goalie's had the air let out of his tires.

 

In the world of fantasy hockey, placing just the right value on the masked men requires as much finesse as it takes to slip one past Tim Thomas. Choose your categories unwisely, and you risk throwing off the balance of your league. ­I recall my first season as a commissioner of a points-based league, when seven of the top ten fantasy players at year's end were goalies. Oops!

 

But have no fear – my lesson was learned, and I'm ready to share some guidelines for effectively valuing goalies in your fantasy league.

 

Roto Categories

The first step in a roto (category-based) league is to decide how many goaltending categories you want. You must walk a fine line as you seek to reward the critical contribution of the elite goalie, without going overboard and over-inflating the value of the masked men. On a typical fantasy roster, goalies only account for about 10-20% of the roster slots, so you don't want 50% of your team's fantasy value tied up in 10-20% of your players.

 

Take into account how many skater categories you've got, and then determine how many goalie categories are appropriate. In my primary keeper league, we've got 11 skater categories and 5 for the goalies. Generally, having goalies represent about 25-33% of your scoring seems about right, given the crucial contribution made by the stoppers.

 

Once you've figured out how many categories you need, you can start choosing which ones to utilize. Here are some pros and cons of the most common categories offered by many online fantasy sites.

 

The Go-To Categories: Wins, GAA, SV%, SO

Wins, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts are the most common goaltending stats cited when measuring the performance of a goalie, and they all work well as categories in fantasy leagues. Some may argue that wins, GAA and shutouts reflect the strength of the team more than they do the talent of the goalie, but it's almost impossible to eliminate the team factor from goalie stats. Even SV%, which seems like an individual stat, has a hidden team component, as a str