Which goaltending battles should fantasy owners look forward to in 2016-17?
Goalie battles this year will be played out on an even bigger stage than normal. Next summer's expansion draft will see to that.
There have already been rumblings about which goalies will be exposed. Some of those goalies are stars in fantasy hockey. But for those goalies to be exposed, teams need to know what they have in their system. So this could be a year where you see backups playing more than ever before.
Of course, this impacts fantasy hockey as well. A starting goalie that might lose an extra 10 starts because of the expansion process obviously limits his value.
Below you'll find the top 10 goalie battles for this upcoming season. Not all of them revolve around the expansion draft, but it is worth noting that many of them are.
On to the list.
10. Calvin Pickard vs Semyon Varlamov
Every year there's a story of a starter who loses his job to a younger goalie. Varlamov is a top candidate this year. It's not just that he gets injured often. But he was just awful last year. And Pickard is the goalie of the future in Colorado. This is where the expansion rules become interesting. Does Colorado leave Varlamov exposed if he has another poor year? Varlamov will start the season as the number one guy, but he may not finish with that status.
9. Anders Nilsson vs Linus Ullmark
This is the most interesting battle of the backups going into training camp as the winner will probably be the number one guy by Remembrance Day. Starter Robin Lehner is the undisputable top netminder but can't stay healthy. Lehner has never played more than 36 games in a season. Nilsson may get the backup job out of the gate, but he faltered in Edmonton and St. Louis last year. Ullmark could be Buffalo's top guy three years from now, so he may get the most starts when Lehner goes down.
8. Ryan Miller vs Jacob Markstrom
Miller's career as an NHL starter is almost finished. Last year he had just 17 wins in 51 games with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. Markstrom had a similar goals-against average and save percentage, but picked up 13 wins in 32 games. The C