This is the fifth and final installment of a multi-part series looking at the most valuable players at each position this year from the Western Conference (part one looked at right wings here, part two was left wings here, part three was centermen here, and part four was defense here). Just as a refresher, we are 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.
This week, goalies.
3. Marc-Andre Fleury (7)
Marc Andre Fleury ranked 7th overall this year and was our third most valuable goalie. The sky seemed to be the limit early this season, but an injury derailed what could have been even more dramatic regular season. In fact, he played 13 and 21 fewer games than the top two goalies. His stat line at the end of the year looked like this: 29 wins, 1276 saves, .927 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average.
The loss of games certainly hurt a bit in the wins and the saves category, but with strong rate stats and good counting numbers when he did play, Fleury put together a solid season. In fact, he had a Quality Start Percentage of 65.2. No one knew what to expect from Fleury this year and while it will is becoming a trope at this point, Vegas certainly exceeded expectations and Fleury was definitely a part of that.
2. Pekka Rinne (3)
Pekka Rinne is our second most valuable goalie this year and the third player overall. He had a great season for Nashville, sporting 42 wins, 1706 saves, a .927 save percentage and a 2.31 goals against average.
Rinne managed quite the rebound this year. At 35 and with a couple of inconsistent years, it was a bit of a gamble to draft him. He certainly rewarded those who did. Although he played his fewest games since 2013-14, all of his stats are the highest he has seen in years. His wins and saves numbers are the highest since 2011-12, his save percentage is the highest since 2010-11 and his goals against average numbers are the best since 2014-15. His Quality Start Percentage is the highest of his career at 67.8. It certainly helps playing for a good team with great defense, but Rinne deserves some credit as well.
1. Connor Hellebuyck (1)
Connor Hellebuyck is our top ranked goalie and overall player this year. He has had an excellent season, starting 67 games for 44 wins, 1,892 saves, a save percentage of .924, and a goals against of 2.36.
After what might have been classified as a disappointment last year, Hellebuyck came into the season with a few question marks. Steve Mason was brought in during the offseason and the most optimistic manager was hoping for a shared net, where maybe Hellebuyck would take the reins if all went well. Hellebuyck laid waste to those concerns this year tying Talbot for the most games played (67) in the league. Mason, for comparison, started 13. Hellebuyck is young and has now definitely arrived. He will likely be an expensive choice in drafts next year and while goalies are notoriously fickle, Winnipeg seems like a team ready to compete for years.
Bubble Players (just missed a top ranking)
Accepting his injury last year, Jonathan Quick (13) has been a workhorse for the Kings, playing 64+ games a season since 2014-15. He did it again this year with 64 games, 33 wins, and his highest save and save percentage (.921) numbers since 2011-12. Oddly though, he had his worst goals against average (2.4) since the 2012-13 season and the worst Quality Start Percentage of the last three years. Those numbers kept him out of the top three.
I would love to talk about Carey Price here, as he was the bane of my existence last year, but in keeping with the West Coast themes of this column, let’s briefly touch on Cam Talbot (125). Oh and just in case you were wondering, Talbot was my second goalie. Talbot came off a strong 2016-17 year and hopes were high that he and the Oilers were on the rise. Unfortunately, a goals against average of 3.02 and a save percentage of .908 indicate that was not the case. The only saving graces really this year were a few decent weeks at the end of the season, the 67 starts, and the 2036 saves.
To start we must of course mention again Marc Andre Fleury. He was drafted 211 overall and ended up as the 3rd ranked goalie on a team that made the playoffs with ease. I did also want to mention Carter Hutton (64) though. He was undrafted, and in relief of a suffering Jake Allen (a runner up for Notable Absences), put together a nice season of 32 starts, 17 wins, 754 saves, a save percentage of .931, and a goals against average of 2.09. Both of those stats are the league best for goalies who played over 20 games.
Thanks for reading.
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