In honor of the Fantasy Football season kicking off this week I’m going to use it as an example. In Fantasy Football you want that Running Back who is going to get all of the carries rather than split them with another back. In hockey it is the same thing with goalies and their starts. You obviously want the Henrik Lundqvist’s or Pekka Rinne’s who are going to get 60 starts. However not everyone can get those guys and sometimes you have to settle for the goalies who are only going to make 40 appearances. In football traditionally you would like to draft both of the running backs that will be working in the committee in case one of them goes down with an injury. Well again the same can be applied in hockey. In this article were going to take a look at the Top 5 Goalie Battles heading into training camp and what you can expect from the tandems. If you draft any of the following goalies, you will probably frequent our site quite often this season trying to figure out which games your goalie will be manning the crease.
James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier – Toronto Maple Leafs
These two guys are going to give fantasy owners fits all season long. Randy Carlyle typically likes to keep his roster to himself so it could be difficult at times to figure out which one is going to start. Both have showed tremendous flashes over the last few years that would warrant a starting job, but as long as they are both healthy this looks like an even platoon. I would give Reimer the edge heading into training camp strictly because he was a Maple Leaf last season and played very well in the playoffs. That being said Bernier is the better prospect having been a first round pick in 2006. He has the better goals against average (2.36 versus 2.71) but the lower save percentage (.912 vs. .915) to this point in their respective careers. Unless one of these two plays absolutely terribly it looks like the starts will be split right down the middle. Toronto should provide a lot of offense in front of them this season making them more valuable than some other tandems. In terms of draft strategy, you can’t really rank one much higher than the other. Consider them 1 and 1A at this point.
Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider – New Jersey Devils
Brodeur has been with the Devils for 20 season but he is now 41-years-old and is entering the final year of his contract. With this likely being his last year New Jersey brought in the 27-year-old Schneider at this year’s draft. There is no arguing with Brodeur’s success. Even in his 40′s he went 13-9-7 with a 2.22 GAA and .901 SV% on a below average New Jersey team. The Devils will likely go with the hot-hand this season but going forward this will be Schneider’s team. Broduer landed on the IR with a back injury last season which limited him to only 29 starts. The potential for injury with his ageing body and full 82-game schedule makes Schneider the more valuable goalie on draft day. In a keeper league Schneider should be bumped up a few spots in our rankings because he should see regular work next season for the first time in his career. His 55-26-8 record along with a 2.20 GAA and .927 SV% are very impressive, but expectations should be tempered as he’ll once again share the crease with one of the NHL’s best. Likely to frustrate owners even more, the Devils have the most back-to-back games in the upcoming NHL schedule with 22 – over half the season.
Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen – St. Louis Blues
This situation is even more complex than any of the other goalie battles, because there are three net minders vying for the starting job. Halak was the number 1 heading into last season but battled multiple lower body injuries that limited him to just 15 starts. While he was out of action Elliott served as a decent secondary option until Allen arrived on scene. The 23-year-old posted a 9-4-0 record with a 2.46 GAA and .905 SV% in 13 starts. It wasn’t until Elliott was sent down for a conditioning stint that he found his game. Once he returned to the Blues crease he never looked back. He won five of his first six games back with three shutouts. He was the goalie they turned to for all six of their playoff games as well. Heading into this year I would expect much of the same. Halak and Elliott to split starts with Allen starting in the minor as an insurance policy. It would be helpful to draft both Halak and Elliott as Ken Hitchcock is usually pretty liberal about announcing who is starting goalie will be.
Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth – Anaheim Ducks
These two nearly mirrored each other last season. Fasth was unknown and jumped out to a red-hot start and become one of fantasy’s most added players early in the year. However when it was all said and done Fasth finished 15-6-2 with a 2.18 GAA and .921 SV%. while Hiller was 15-6-4 with a 2.36 GAA and .913 SV%. The Ducks turned to Hiller for all seven of their playoff games. Hiller heads into 2013-14 in the final year of his contract while Fasth inked a fresh two-year, $5.8 million dollar deal early last season. With the Ducks tight up against the cap it will be interesting to see if Hiller will be back in Anaheim next year or if this year will be a changing of the guard. Both net minders should be valued equally come draft day because of how even they were last season.
Ray Emery and Steve Mason – Philadelphia Flyers
Ilya Bryzgalov was a flop in Philadelphia so the Flyers traded for Steve Mason at the deadline and brought Ray Emery back in free agency. After moving to Philly, Mason played very well. He went 4-2-0 with a 1.90 GAA and .944 SV%. Since winning rookie of the year honors in 2008-09 he has fallen off. However the change of scenery seemed to help him at the end of last season, so he will try to carry that momentum into the 2013-14 season. As far as Emery is concerned, he could do no wrong last season. His career also took a turn for the worse, but seems to have found its way back on track. He was an unbelievable 17-1-0 with a 1.94 GAA and .922 SV% in a backup role in Chicago last season. Although he rode the bench in the playoffs he was able to cap his great season off with a Stanley Cup ring. This looks like an even race heading into training camp and we’ll have to wait and see who comes out on top. Regardless both goalies will get their fair share of starts for what should be an improved Flyers team.