The Ever-Challenging Goalie Market

steve laidlaw

2014-09-13

TuukkaRask

 

Factors to consider when drafting goalies in your fantasy league…

 

Henrik Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask may be the safest picks in nets, but Brian Elliott and Cory Schneider could be great value picks, and Thomas Greiss might be one of the most interesting hit-or-miss late-round gambles. What other secrets can hockey analytics help uncover?

 

There’s a lot more to goaltending analysis than save percentage. Recent developments in hockey analytics can help identify which goalies play in the toughest situations, how well they handle the dangerous shots, and who might be in the biggest fights for playing time.

 

Cam Ward, for example, is not likely to remain Carolina’s starting goalie. The following chart shows the combined 3-year even-strength save percentage for the top two goalies on all the NHL teams, with Anton Khudobin inserted as the Canes starter instead. He and the other number one goalies are on the vertical axis, with Ward and the backups on the horizontal axis.

 

vollman goalie 3

 

Most teams are located right in the middle, with a starting goalie who is slightly better than the backup. That’s the standard situation that we all know and understand.

 

Some teams, like Colorado and Chicago, don’t have a proven backup. Without someone pushing for his job, that means that goalies like Semyon Varlamov and Corey Crawford could be better fantasy options than comparable goalies with more promising backups behind them, like San Jose’s Antti Niemi, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, and Vancouver’s Ryan Miller.

 

The same can be said for teams where the starter has an apparently significant advantage over his backup, like Brian Elliott in St. Louis, Jimmy Howard in Detroit