For part three of this series we are going to look at goalies in the West. We will be using the Fantasy Hockey Geek ranking tool to get a ranking that combines all of a player’s stats for the searched categories. For the purposes of this series, the ranks are based on a 12 team, head-to-head league, using the categories of goals, assists, power play points, shots, hits and blocks for forwards/defensemen and wins, saves, save percentage and goals against average for goalies. Player eligibility for this series is based on Yahoo, and any draft ranks are based on average draft positions compiled from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS by FantasyPros.
I would like to make one caveat on all of these discussions. Goalies are fickle. So much depends on the team in front of them and their deployment. That said we are going to try and touch on goalie performance for the year compared to their previous years and see if we can spot any glaring differences.
3. Pekka Rinne (19)
Pekka Rinne finishes the season as the 19th ranked player and the third ranked goalie in the West. He played 56 games and saw 30 wins over the course of the season. He had a goals against average of 2.42 and a save percentage of .918. Juuse Saros had to wait in the wings for another year. The expectation, for several seasons now is that Saros will be stepping up for Nashville as Rinne ages and declines. That decline was put on hold in 2017-18, and while Rinne definitely performed well in 2018-19 there are still some signs that it is coming.
There isn’t much clearer sign than in his usage. In 2015-16 Rinne played a career high of 66 games. SInce then he has consistently dropped games until his 56 of this season. 2018-19 represents the fewest games played and saves since 2013-14, though the lockout and injuries were the only reason for lower game counts. With this lowered game count we also see his lowest win count since 2013-14. The reason can’t come as a huge shock to anyone, he is 36 going on 37 and at some point his playing time is simply going to evaporate.
On the plus side though, his personal save percentage and his quality start percentage were both higher than Saros. Perhaps that means he can stave Saros off for another year. His stat line reads like a yo-yo with his save percentage fluctuating year to year from .908 to .927 over the last five years. Even so, Rinne has been one of the more consistent goaltenders over that period.
2. Marc-Andre Fleury (16)
Our second elder statesmen is 34 and ranked a very solid second in his second year with the Vegas Golden Knights. The move was actually a bit of a revitalization for Fleury as his games played numbers and his save percentage were declining with Matt Murray starting to steal the job.
In 2018-19 Fleury started 61 games for 35 wins, and a save percentage of .913.The win rate and the save percentage are actually relatively significant step downs from 2017-18 when Vegas took the league by storm and racked up 51 wins.
With the possible exception of 2009-2010, and 2016-17 Fleury has been incredibly consistent. His save percentage stayed between .912 and .927 for his entire career. That is 12 seasons. Vegas has been an interesting landing spot as it has given him his best career save percentage of .927 and a more menail percentage of .913.
The reason he ranks so highly in this format though is the combo of stats, saves, and wins. His games played totals rank in the top 10 overall and his wins top five. Add to that a reasonable save percentage and here he is. As far as 2019-20 goes, Fleury is certainly getting older, but Vegas is proving a very capable team that currently has no better option in net. Malcolm Subban isn’t pushing Fleury any time soon. As long as Fleury can maintain his health, Vegas is going to keep trotting him out there on a nightly basis, which is great news for Fleury and his fantasy owners.
1. Ben Bishop (5)
Bishop took the west by storm in 2018-19 putting up a season save percentage of .934. He sported a goals against average of 1.98, started 46 games and put up 27 wins. He ranks as our top goalie in the west and the fifth ranked player overall in the league. If Bishop’s save percentage sounds impressively high to you, well you definitely are not wrong. His next highest season save percentage was .926 back in 2015-16. His prior three year average was a much more reasonable .917. Without diving into more specific analysis of that number it seems pretty likely that the .934 is the odd man out in his career. He likely hasn’t morphed in a completely different goalie at age 32 (yes 32, the youngest of our top three is still 32).
Dallas is a bit of a wild card next year, and Anton Khudobin actually played quite well in his starts. His quality start percentage of 61% compares well to Bishop’s 65%. Of the top three goalies, Bishop is the one I am the most worried about. His season seems the most out of character (and therefore the most likely to regress), and he has the best backup. His asking price will also likely be high at the draft table given his regular season and then playoff performance. If you want him you are likely going to have to grab him early, and I doubt he will return that investment.
Bubble Players (just missed a top ranking):
Devan Dubnyk (31) missed a top three, though not by all that much. Dubnyk tied his career high in games played at 67 which definitely boosted his value, but his personal numbers have been dropping a bit. 2018-19 saw his lowest season save percentage and highest percentage of bad starts. Alex Stalock isn’t exactly pushing Dubnyk so the starts will likely still come, but at age 33, a decline is likely coming at some point.
Jonathan Quick (617), a mainstay for years dropped significantly in 2018-19, as his player rank of 617 should indicate. He was the last ranked starting goalie. He spent some time injured, which definitely didn’t help. Neither did the Kings forgetting how to score goals, but that doesn't entirely explain his .888 save percentage and his abysmal 43.5% quality start percentage.
Jordan Binnington (36) may have single handedly saved the Blues season. He finished the year with a .927 save percentage, and a 1.89 goals against average, to go along with his 32 starts and 24 wins. Binnington was not drafted, but ended up ranked very favorably compared to Connor Hellebuyck who ranked 33rd overall and was drafted 23rd. Jacob Markstrom (41) also had a sneaky under the radar season in 2018-19. He started off in a potential timeshare, but finished with 60 games played, 28 wins, a .912 save percentage and a 2.77 goals against average. He was drafted at an average spot of 214, and compared well with John Gibson (ranked 42) who was drafted 54th overall.
Thanks for reading.