Rotisserie By The Numbers: Top 40 GoaliesPosted: Wednesday September 18, 2002 11:23 AM
By Craig Rondinone, SportsTicker
The puck stops here.
Preseason NHL games start this week, so it is time to begin preparing for your upcoming fantasy draft, and there is no better place to start than with the backbones of every hockey team, the goalies.
We may have lost "The Dominator," but fantasy hockey owners still have many other colorful netminders to build their teams around. You really cannot go wrong with "Cujo," "Godzilla," "The Bulin Wall," "Ozzy," "The Eagle" or "The Cat." Now, if you draft a goalie whose nickname is "Swiss Cheese," then maybe you are in for a long season.
Here are the top 40 goalies in fantasy hockey coming into the 2002-03 campaign, with a very familiar face heading the list:
1. Patrick Roy, Avalanche: Like a $5,000 bottle of wine, Roy continues to get better with age. He put up the best goals-against average of his storied career last season, leading the NHL with a 1.94. And he has set a new career high in GAA in each of the past four seasons. One of these days Father Time will hip check his reflexes, but it will not happen this year.
2. Evgeni Nabokov, Sharks: Nabokov had the most consistent season of his young career in 2001-02. He did not suffer through the two-week slumps he had been prone to in the past. He does not allow shooters much room to put the puck because he plays his angles so well. Now all Nabokov has to do is end his holdout.
3. Curtis Joseph, Red Wings: Joseph has some pretty huge shoes to fill in "Hockey Town" now that he is replacing Dominik Hasek in goal, but he is more than talented enough to handle the task. Playing with the Stanley Cup champs almost ensures him of being among the league leaders in wins.
4. Jose Theodore, Canadiens: The reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner was fantasy hockey's biggest surprise last season, and he carried many fantasy teams (along with the Habs) down the stretch with his spectacular play. Can he be the NHL's best one-man show two seasons in a row?
5. Olaf Kolzig, Capitals: The Capitals were downright awful last season, and they dragged Kolzig down with them. Jaromir Jagr and Co. should perform 10 times better this season, so a 40-win season and a .915 save percentage could be expected from "Godzilla."
6. Roman Cechmanek, Flyers: Cechmanek finished last season with the second-best GAA and the third-best save percentage among all goaltenders. The Flyers even improved his fantasy value in the offseason by trading away backup Brian Boucher. His relationship with his teammates is very stormy, though, and deserves close attention.
7. Martin Brodeur, Devils: The easiest job in North America is being the backup goalie on the Devils. Brodeur has averaged 72 games per season since the 1995-96 season. He is overrated in fantasy circles, however. His save percentage each of the past two seasons was .906, which did not rate him anywhere near the top 10 in the category.
8. Tommy Salo, Oilers: Salo, like Brodeur, is a workhorse that will play virtually every game. His confidence might still be on the shaky side after his horrific Olympic experience and allowing many bad goals for Edmonton the last two months of the season.
9. Dan Cloutier, Canucks: Cloutier played like a very average goalie the first half of last season, but he played like the second coming of Grant Fuhr after the All-Star break. His amazing lateral quickness was crucial to him going 17-5-2 late in the season.
10. Chris Osgood, Islanders: Osgood proved to doubters that he can be a quality fantasy performer without being on the Red Wings. The Islanders are headed in the right direction, as is Osgood's fantasy worth.
The rest of the top 40:
12. Felix Potvin, Kings: When Potvin is good, he plays as well as any goalie in the sport. When Potvin is bad, he plays as poorly as any goalie in the local street hockey league.
13. Nikolai Khabibulin, Lightning: Khabibulin gets no help. None. Nothing. Nada. Zip. So enjoy his sparkling GAA and his save percentage -- and the fact that his record will be 20 games under .500.
14. Marty Turco, Stars: Turco had better numbers than any backup goalie in hockey last season, going 15-6-2 with a 2.09 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Can he put up similar numbers now that he is going to be a starter?
15. Ed Belfour, Maple Leafs: Belfour was brutal last season -- his .895 save percentage drove some fantasy owners over the edge. Getting a fresh start with the high-flying Maple Leafs might make Belfour a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
16. Sean Burke, Coyotes: Burke goes from being a Vezina Trophy finalist to having to look constantly over his shoulder at Brian Boucher.
17. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Mighty Ducks: Does anyone realize that Giguere finished sixth in GAA and seventh in save percentage last season? If only the Ducks would score him some goals.
18. Roman Turek, Flames: Turek was the main reason Calgary was in contention for a postseason berth, but he tired badly toward the end of the season.
19. Patrick Lalime, Senators: Do not be fooled by his ultra-amazing performance in the first round of the playoffs versus the Flyers. He is a middle-of-the-road backstop.
21. Arturs Irbe, Hurricanes: Irbe has plenty of momentum to build on after his outstanding effort in helping the Hurricanes reach the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
22. Byron Dafoe, Free Agent: Dafoe is a great little goalie with a ton of spunk and the ability to steal games with his scintillating saves. The problem is that he has yet to sign with anybody, which almost guarantees that he will not be a starter at the start of the season.
23. Martin Biron, Sabres: Biron does not get much media attention playing in Buffalo, so he is underrated in fantasy circles.
25. Mike Dunham, Predators: He is good for a couple groin pulls every season, but he is a solid No. 2 goalie for a fantasy team.
26. Mike Richter, Rangers: No goalie faced more shots than he did last season, but the signings of Bobby Holik and Darius Kasparaitis might be a sign that the Rangers are looking to shore things up defensively in front of Richter.
27. Roberto Luongo, Panthers: Look at Luongo's stats from last season -- a 16-33-4 record and a .915 save percentage. Something doesn't jive.
28. Steve Shields, Bruins: This linebacker-looking goalie will be Boston's No. 1 man if Byron Dafoe does not return.
29. Marc Denis, Blue Jackets: Goalies on expansion teams are not usually worth much.
30. Milan Hnlicka, Thrashers: Goalies on expansion teams are not usually worth much, especially when they play behind the worst defense in the NHL.
31. Manny Fernandez, Wild: Will fantasy owners get the Fernandez who shocked the NHL with his stellar play in 2000-01 or the Fernandez who was demoted in favor of journeyman Dwayne Roloson in 2001-02?
32. Brian Boucher, Coyotes: Boucher should be a starting goalie somewhere, not carrying Sean Burke's bags in Phoenix.
33. Kevin Weekes, Hurricanes: He is the future goalie of the 'Canes, and the future may be now.
34. Jani Hurme, Senators: He always steals some of Lalime's playing time in Ottawa.
35. Jamie Storr, Kings: Storr's GAA and save percentage were better than Potvin's, the guy he was backing up, last season, but Storr only played in 19 games.
36. David Aebischer, Avalanche: Roy's understudy is learning from the master.
37. Ron Tugnutt, Stars: He will be there to pick up the pieces if young Turco falls apart in Dallas.
38. Fred Brathwaite, Blues: He gives up way too many soft goals to be counted on full time.
39. Dan Blackburn, Rangers: This 19-year-old has the maturity of a 30-year-old.
40. Tomas Vokoun, Predators: You could do much, much better.
Next week: Rating the defensemen.
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