Top 25 NHL Goalies For 2011

By Connor Nielen

With a fresh slate of NHL action upon us, hockey fans across the globe will once again band together to form thousands upon thousands of pools & fantasy leagues with their friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, and strangers they encounter on the internet.

In the vast majority of these competitions, entrants will be choosing at least two or three goalies to represent their respective teams over the course of the year. Accordingly, someone involved will likely find himself wasting time researching and analyzing countless piles of data in preparation- tearing through it relentlessly in an effort to attempt to discover which netminders are most likely to bring statistical success to his team(s) for the season.

Save yourself the hassle instead with this compilation of the best bets to post the strongest campaigns between the pipes in 2011-12. If you’ve already made your selections, compare and contrast these picks with your own!

First and foremost, who is my pick to have led the way when all is said and done?

2010 Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres.

Thanks to new owner Terry Pegula’s deep pockets, Miller will now benefit from a bolstered line-up in front of him that includes grizzly veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr, powerplay specialist Christian Ehrhoff and imposing physical force Ville Leino.

Having reliable back-up Jhonas Enroth on-board for a full season is another thing that the Olympic Silver medalist stands to gain from as he no longer will he be counted on to suit up and perform to his customary stellar level each and every night anymore. Instead he is now blessed with the opportunity to take a few more nights off for rest, which should only improve his competitive ability for when he does play.

Here are how the rest of the rankings shake out:

1. Ryan Miller – Buffalo Sabres

2. Tomas Vokoun – Washington Capitals

3. Antti Niemi – San Jose Sharks

4. Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks

5. Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers

6. Roberto Luongo – Vancouver Canucks

7. Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators

8. Jon Quick – Los Angeles Kings

9. Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings

10. Ilya Bryzgalov – Philadelphia Flyers

11. M-A Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins

12. Cam Ward – Carolina Hurricanes

13. Jaroslav Halak – St. Louis Blues

14. Tim Thomas – Boston Bruins

15. Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens

16. Martin Brodeur – New Jersey Devils

17. Dwayne Roloson – Tampa Bay Lightning

18. Jonas Hiller – Anaheim Ducks

19. Niklas Backstrom – Minnesota Wild

20. Kari Lehtonen – Dallas Stars

21. Semyon Varlamov – Colorado Avalanche

22. Miikka Kiprusoff – Calgary Flames

23. Steve Mason – Columbus Blue Jackets

24. James Reimer – Toronto Maple Leafs

25. Ondrej Pavelec – Winnipeg Jets

Quick-Hit Rankings Analysis:

The aforementioned Ryan Miller holds down the position’s superior ranking… He’s followed by Czech Republic native Tomas Vokoun, who now finds himself in a very desirable situation with the Capitals, perennial Presidents Trophy contenders… Behind him are a pair of Western Conference up-and-comers, Antti Niemi & Corey Crawford, who each received long-term contract extensions from their respective clubs this Summer… Rounding out the Top-5 is Henrik Lundqvist, a virtual lock for another 30-win season…

Falling from his usual spot atop the ranks of the Fantasy elite is Roberto Luongo, whose status should be weighed down following the extensively grueling past couple years which his body has endured… A serious sleeper sits in Nashville in the form of Finnish phenomenon Pekka Rinne, who is probably ranked a little too low to be honest… The remaining trio within the Top-10 shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard, and former-Coyote Ilya Bryzgalov all represent extremely strong squads and are consequently in line for a large quantity of victories over the course of the schedule…

Other notables worth mentioning: Carolina’s Cam Ward, a sneaky veteran who provides a tremendous level of reliability as a secondary Fantasy goaltender… the Blues reloaded their roster in the off-season and Jaroslav Halak is preparing to boost them toward a potential playoff berth… In what may be his final hurrah, iconic netminder Martin Brodeur will again suit up for an underrated New Jersey club in full pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup… Reigning Champion Tim Thomas is a terrific goaltender, but I can’t help but worry that he will find himself trapped in a time-share with talented Bruins team-mate Rask in an effort to preserve his ageing body…

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