Fantasy Hockey 2013: Head Of The Class; Goaltenders
We arrive at the final position to discuss as we rapidly approach the start of the 2013 season. Goaltending sometimes flies a bit under the radar because of the high profile skill players out there, but it is as every bit important as any position there is. There are a ton of viable goaltenders to consider drafting each and every year, but who are some of the top guys to target for 2013?
1) Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: Hey, they don’t call him the king for nothing. Lundqvist is still the best goaltender in the entire world, and because of that, he remains my top fantasy netminder for the upcoming season. We are talking about a guy that has posted a GAA of under 2.50 in every season he’s been in the league, and no one has recorded more shutouts than Hank (21). Over the last three seasons, he has the second most wins (99), the lowest GAA (2.11) and second best save percentage (.926). I think new head coach Alain Vigneault may actually benefit Lundqvist. He’s an offensive-minded coach, and considering the Rangers struggled offensively last season, more goal support could be coming Lundqvist’s way this season. Considering Hank is in a contract year, that might be extra incentive for him to perform even better this season. Expect another Vezina caliber season from the king.
2) Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: Rask could very well finish as the number one fantasy netminder in all of hockey this season. Over the past four seasons, his save percentages (.931, .918, .929 and .929) have been astounding, but the more appealing aspect is the supporting cast around him. The Bruins are a top-three team in the league and have talent at every position. After a trip to the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Bruins have won more than 45 games in two of the last three seasons prior to last year’s lockout. This team should be heavily favored to represent the Eastern conference in the cup final again this season, and considering Rask is the main man between the pipes, owners should expect 60-70 starts this year. He’ll compete with Lundqvist and company for the number one spot, for sure.
3) Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: After a stellar 2011-12 campaign, Quick regressed a bit and disappointed fantasy owners. Still, anyone who wins 18 games (48-game season), sports a 2.45 GAA and .902 save percentage and is regressing, sign me up. Still, Quick landed outside of ESPN’s top-3o in their Player Ranker, this just one year after being a unanimous 1st round draft pick. However, Quick should still be regarded as one of the three best goaltenders in fantasy hockey. The Kings remain a very strong hockey club, and with backup Jonathan Bernier off to Toronto, Quick will undoubtedly be the guy between the pipes, and should see upwards to 70 starts. His strong postseason numbers reminded fantasy owners that he is still an elite netminder in today’s game, and warrants your attention in the early rounds of your draft.
4) Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: I have a bit of a soft spot for Rinne, considering he was my number-one goaltender in my main league last season. He sometimes doesn’t get a ton of credit as a top fantasy goalie, but he deserves it. Last season, Rinne posted 16 games with a save percentage of .950 or higher, and after a successful hip surgery in the offseason, Rinne has looked strong this preseason. He may be the biggest workhorse goaltender in the league, as only three keepers had more starts (42) than Rinne during last year’s 48-game season. The Predators averaged 2.27 goals per game last season, which was the 29th worst in hockey, and while the offense is a concern, the team did land defenseman Seth Jones with the fourth overall pick, and he should help this unit alongside Shea Weber immediately. He’ll get plenty of volume, and should easily see an increase in stats after a subpar 2012 campaign.
5) Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: Crawford emerged into a legitimate starting fantasy goalie last year, providing the Blackhawks with a solid rock to lean on at the backstop. Crawford posted an impressive record of 19-5-5, sporting a 1.94 GAA, which tied for second-best in the league. Crawford will have equal opportunity to be a dominant fantasy goalie, as the Blackhawks main nucleus is still in tact, and with backup Ray Emery gone, Crawford should see an increased workload this season, which means more wins for the Stanley Cup champions and their goalie.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.
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