With yesterday's release of NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings, I wanted to drop some fantasy-related insight on who I consider to be "long-term gems" for deep keeper leagues. Even if you only play in a standard one-year fantasy league, there is plenty to learn by understanding how to project the potential value of 17-and-18-year-old goaltender. If you play in a dynasty league, keeping an eye on draft-eligible goalies is even more important, as you're always on the hunt for the next Marc-Andre Fleury or Pekka Rinne.
I feel two prospects are "head and shoulders" above the rest right now, not only in terms of their draft value, but their long-term fantasy value as well. That starts with Andrei Vasilevski and ends with Malcolm Subban. Vasilevski is only 17 years old, but plays and presents himself like a 23-year-old. He has every single attribute you want in a keeper prospect, and the only thing hindering his fantasy value right now is his personal motivations in terms of playing in Russia, or eventually coming over to North America.
Subban is earning way more hype and exposure due to his bloodlines and lineage, but it is legitimately combined with a brilliant skill set. He's a dynamic goaltender that has great athleticism, anticipation and an intimate understanding of how to read plays (at the junior level). The few nagging injuries he has sustained this year might raise some red flags, but most goalies that have his level of quickness and agility are prone to pulling a groin every once in a while.
Both of these goalies could be drafted in the first round, and I do find that quite surprising. I'm the first one to say that no team should draft a goalie that early – it just puts too much pressure on the goalie and the team to develop into a long-term stud. That being said, I wouldn't hesitate to snag either guy with my first pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. They are just too good to pass up.
Maybe Montreal looks at snagging Subban for obvious reasons, while Tampa Bay or Washington could snag Vasilevski. Don't forget, the Caps lost Semyon Varlamov to the Avalanche, so how interesting would it be if the Capitals replenished their goalie depth chart with another valuable young Russian?
After those two, you'll want to focus on Matthew Murray, Oscar Dansk, Andrey Makarov and Jon Gillies. These guys create a cash crop of prospects that could be drafted in the second or third-round. They all bring their own unique combination of form and function to the crease, and they all have awesome upside. Murray doesn't have good stats for the Greyhounds (OHL) this year, but his massive frame (6-foot-5) and calm blocking butterfly style gives him an edge of efficiency that will entice every NHL team.
Dansk is one of my favorite prospects in this su