We're officially into the year 2021 and the 2019-2020 season seems so distant by now. Some teams are hitting the ice for the first time together in over nine months, and as hard it is to predict goaltending as it is, this season should prove extra difficult.
A shortened season means a compact schedule, and it will be interesting to see how different teams approach their goalie rotation. The key to the position in season-long fantasy is to find consistency, whether that's via team wins or a goalie garnering a good percentage of starts.
You'll notice in our rankings that the goaltending duos more apt to a 50/50 split are considerably lower than those projected to be the workhorses for their clubs. Not to worry though if you swing and miss on some of the big workhorses - there can be added value at the position if you are able to scoop up both backstops in a rotation on a highly projected squad. You then will, of course, just have to pay closer attention all season to ensure which goalie will be starting each night.
Another curveball this season is the requirement of all teams to carry three goaltenders, so teams may be more apt to turn to veterans in injury situations rather than AHL call-ups. With all these things considered, let's get into our rankings:
1. Connor Hellebuyck, WPG
What was most impressive about Hellebyck's Vezina Trophy winning season last year was just how bad the defense was in front of him. With the addition of Dylan DeMelo and promising youngsters Ville Heinola and Sami Niku potentially added to the blueline full-time this season, Hellebuyck can have a bit of a regression and still put up elite numbers. We currently project Winnipeg to finish second in the lowly North Division, so the wins should see an increase as well.
2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL
Perhaps the safest goaltender to select in your fantasy drafts, Vasilevskiy is a major beneficiary of a perennial loaded roster. Nothing about that statement should change this season. Wins will come at a premium, and the Lightning are returning nearly every major contributor from their 2020 cup run.
3. Frederik Andersen, TOR
Despite facing some criticism from fans in Toronto, Andersen has put up some pretty strong advanced metrics. His "down year" last season can easily be contributed to a suspect top defensive pairing of Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci, the latter of which has since been replaced by reliable defensive zone player and puck mover T.J. Brodie. Again, the North Divison is not expected to be strong this season, and Andersen should be able to backstop the Leafs to the top of the division.
4. John Gibson, ANA
If not for playing on a poor team, John Gibson would be in the Vezina running every year. His goals saved above expected is tops among goalies over the last three seasons, and he is again expected to play over 70% of games for Anaheim. Although we don't expected a ton of wins from the team, Gibson's fantasy value is provided through consistently providing massive amounts of saves each night combined with a relatively low goals against.
5. Jordan Binnington, STL
The common theme among the top bunch of goalies here is high-start pecentage, and Binnington is not different. He is projected for over 70% of starts for a still very talented Blues squad. Jake Allen was actually the better goaltender for St. Louis last season, but he has sinced been traded to Montreal. This leaves rookie Ville Husso to tandem with Binnington, who isn't likely to draw many significant starts for the 2018-2019 Stanley Cup champs.
6. Sergei Bobrovsky, FLA
The highest paid goaltender in the NHL, Bobrovsky was a bit of a letdown for the Panthers last season. Thanks to his contract, though, he has a bit longer of a leash. History shows that Bobrovsky tends to play lights out after a poor season, so if you're ready to catch the rollercoaster at the top of the slope now is the time to hop on board.
7. Ben Bishop, DAL
Bishop finds himself in an odd situation. He has been an absolute stellar goalie during the regular season for the Stars, but an injury during the postseason left the team leaning on backup Anton Khudobin to carry them. Khudobin played brilliantly and led Dallas all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, so it's tough to imagine they'll just hand the reigns completely back to Bishop. Although the expectation is about 60% of starts for Bishop this season, it may be smart to handcuff him with Khudobin later on in your draft...you know...just in case.
8. Carey Price, MTL
Montreal made an interesting move in acquiring Jake Allen this offseason to add to the goaltending corp. For years, it has been the Carey Price show, averaging well over 70% of starts when healthy. We expect that trend to continue, but Allen being there throws a little caution to the wind.
9. Braden Holtby, VAN
Familiar face - new place. The up-and-coming Canucks new feature a former Stanley Cup winner in net, although the reputation that precedes him is more of perception than reality. Holtby has not been overly impressive, and is coming off perhaps his worst year of his career. That being said, he should get a shot at carrying Vancouver this season, and, if he can bounce back, is poised to post good numbers in the North Division.
10. Tuukka Rask, BOS
I'm just going to say it point-blank - the Boston Bruins are the best team overall in the NHL. And yes, that's with their key losses on defense. Tuukka Rask is an elite goalie in the NHL as well, but he faces a couple obstacles. First, Boston liked to use a bit more of a rotation last season than normal, which sort of paid off when Jaroslav Halak had to carry the team throughout the postseason. Second, the East Division is our toughest ranked division, with plenty of scoring firepower. This is why Rask has barely cracked the top 10, although he is still a very strong option netminding for one of the league's projected division winners.