We at Dobber Hockey continue our Top 10 series to finish off the decade with a list of the top 10 fantasy hockey goalies of the past ten years.
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Since lists like these are subject to endless debate, it’s important to explain the criteria used to rank these goalies. First, this is a list of fantasy goalies, so rankings are based on contributions to commonly-used fantasy categories that fall into two categories:
- Volume-based: Wins and saves
- Ratio-based: Goals-against average and save percentage
It’s possible to dive further into analytics and pull out the actual ability of the goalie based on the team in front of him, but this list focuses on overall contributions to fantasy teams. So as much as wins might not be a true reflection of a goalie’s ability, wins are still a fantasy category in many leagues, which is why they are included here.
On the other hand, these numbers include only regular season and do not include playoffs. How a goalie performed in the playoffs and whether he won a Stanley Cup might be a factor in Hockey Hall of Fame induction, but it won’t matter on this list. So Corey Crawford and Matt Murray may have won multiple Stanley Cups, but neither could crack the top 10 here. (Crawford finished 11th in my rankings.)
A goalie didn’t have to play in all ten years of the decade to qualify for the list, but it helps the goalie’s ranking here, especially for the volume-based categories. In addition, goalies with better ratios are more likely to stick around and earn more wins and saves.
I won’t list actual totals for goalies that are still active, since as this is written the decade has not quite ended yet. The numbers are pulled from January 1, 2010, until mid-December 2019.
Would you rank these goalies differently? Let us know below!
10. Ben Bishop
Bishop wasn’t really on the radar at the start of the decade and would rank much higher if the numbers only went back five years. In particular, Bishop posted both the top goals-against average and the top save percentage among the 32 goalies that posted at least 140 wins over the decade (these are the qualified goalies that will be mentioned throughout the article). Because of the lack of games played (the only goalie among the top 10 to play fewer than 400 games), Bishop was barely a top-20 goalie in wins.
Holtby didn’t start for the entire decade either, yet he earned nearly as many wins as Jonathan Quick and Carey Price even though he played almost 100 fewer games. To put it another way, Holtby was also an ideal goalie to own if your league subtracted points for losses. His fantasy value may have been boosted by playing for a Washington squad that was a playoff team for virtually all of the decade, yet he has his Vezina Trophy (2016) to prove it’s not all on the team in front of him.
Bobrovsky was the only goalie to win multiple Vezina Trophies over this decade, so it might come as a surprise that he is not ranked higher. Remember that this is a ten-year span, so the fact that Bob was not in the top 5 in any of the goaltending categories may not be as surprising. The early-season slumps that he is known for would drag him down the list as well. Where you would have drafted him over the past decade would have varied greatly by season.
Luongo was closer to the top of this list at the start of the decade, as he had several great seasons leading up to the start of this decade. Lu played more games for non-playoff Florida (255) than for contending Vancouver (211) over this decade, even though he won more games in Vancouver (140) than Florida (122) over the same span. Since Luongo is third all-time in wins (489), he appears destined for the Hall of Fame. Other goalies on this list will no doubt be in the HOF discussion as well.
Quick’s ranking could be even higher if this list included playoffs, given his role in the Kings’ two Stanley Cup wins. His success has a lot to do with the lock-down defensive system that Darryl Sutter implemented for the better part of the decade, as his goals-against average was third among qualified goalies, but his save percentage was 18th. His win total solidifies his place on this list, although the Kings’ recent slide down the standings has affected his ranking here.
5. Tuukka Rask
As much as Tim Thomas is known as the goalie to lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup, he was only the starter for the first two full seasons of this decade. After that, Rask took over and hasn’t looked back. Rask places high on this mainly because of strong ratios. Among qualified goalies, only Bishop posted a better goals-against average and save percentage, while Rask also managed to get into the top 10 in wins. His current workload allows him to stay fresh and preserve those ratios.
Because he has played for some strong Pittsburgh and Vegas teams through the decade, Fleury is the wins leader over the past ten years. In fact, Fleury’s teams have not missed the playoffs during any of the past ten seasons. His ratios, particularly his save percentage, cause his ranking to fall a little bit here, as there were some questions about his ability during the earlier part of the decade. The fact that Flower is still an effective fantasy contributor also keeps him from sliding down this list.
3. Carey Price
Price wasn’t the top performer in any one category, but he was a top-10 goalie in every measured category. He was (and still is) a high-volume goalie who the Canadiens have still invested in over the long haul. Like many of these goalies who have been dominant for the better part of a decade, Price’s numbers have slipped from elite status in recent years. Price was the only goalie of this decade to win the Hart Trophy, which he won in 2014-15 with 44 wins, a 1.96 GAA and a .933 SV%.
You didn’t have to worry about King Henrik not getting starts, as he led all goalies in both games played and saves over the decade. Until the 2017-18 season, Lundqvist was a lock to earn 30+ wins in a season, which often resulted in him being one of the first five goalies selected in fantasy drafts. His ratios have slipped in recent years, which is due to age to some degree but also because the Rangers have not been an easy team to play in front of in recent seasons.
1. Pekka Rinne
If Rinne is a surprise at the top of this list, maybe it’s because he didn’t play in a major market like Lundqvist or Price. It’s the combination of all categories that places him at the top of this list. Rinne finished second in wins to Fleury while posting better ratios, and he was a top-5 goalie in all four fantasy categories measured. If there was one thing that Nashville should be known for over the past decade, it’s great goaltending.
Want one more reason? Rinne was the goalie named to the Sporting News’ NHL All-Decade team. Other lists featured other goalies, so there is certainly debate here.
Pekka Rinne captured the 2018 Vezina Trophy and also a spot on SN's @NHL All-Decade Team.
— Sporting News Canada (@sportingnewsca) December 18, 2019