Ranking the fantasy goalies…for next season

March 25, 2010

Buffalo Sabres G Ryan Miller is easily the best fantasy goalie heading into next year's fantasy drafts. He is well worthy of a top ten pick.

With fewer than 10 games left in the NHL regular season — aka the fantasy hockey season — it’s still a little early to plan for the 2010-11 campaign.

A lot can change in the offseason.

But for those of us in keeper formats, it’s never too early to start Draft 1 of the goalie cheat sheet:

1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres (37 wins, 2.20, .929, 5 shutouts). This season, Miller was the class of his position. His track record is also something to bank on. In each of his four seasons as a full-time starter, he has won at least 34 games. His save percentage and GAA have improved in each of the last three seasons. And he does not turn 30 until this summer.

For the record, the only non-goalies I would draft ahead of Miller are (in this order): Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Mike Green. And maybe — maybe — Zach Parise.

2. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils (40 wins, 2.34, .914, 7 shutouts). It’s a boring choice, I recognize, but sometimes Sam Adams Lager is the best beer at the bar. To be fair, some signs point to a statistical slippage. He turns 38 in May; his win totals, GAA and save percentage were better in 2006-07 and 2007-08. But when you compare his numbers to those of the other goalies in contention for No. 2, he remains the wisest choice for your second-round investment.

He is, in other words, the Mariano Rivera of NHL goalies: Slipping, but still one of the top three options — and the single safest option — any way you slice it.

Yes, Brodeur was outperformed this season by Ilya Bryzgalov and Miikka Kiprusoff, and to a lesser extent Tomas Vokoun. But if I’m taking bets for 2010-11, I’ll still take Brodeur. Bryzgalov might be a one-season wonder, while Kiprusoff and Vokoun have tortured fantasy owners for years with their in-season inconsistency.

3. Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks (38 wins, 2.43, .921, 2 shutouts). Nabokov, who turns 35  in July, is like a younger version of Brodeur. His GAA and save percentage both improved this season, and his win total still has a chance to eclipse last year’s (41). So why have I ranked him below Brodeur? Mainly because Nabokov’s shutouts slipped to a paltry two. That is a handicap, especially in week-to-week leagues.

I also cannot shake the specter of Nabokov’s two career lapses: the 2002-03 and 2005-06 campaigns. Yes, it’s arguable — given how terrific he has been in the last three seasons — that Nabokov’s “down” seasons are over. But Brodeur does not have down seasons. And he always posts his share of shutouts.

Next time: Goalies No. 4 – No. 6.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Behind the numbers of Andy Greene

December 10, 2009

Devils D Andy Greene is a +9. Let's just say that playing in front of this man has its benefits.

Devils D Andy Greene scored two goals Wedensday night and he now has two goals and six assists in his last eight games.

Here at The Genius, we pride ourselves on pointing out the non-obvious.

Today we’re making an exception.

We are pleading for fantasy owners to grab Greene. He is radically under-owned in both ESPN (29.5 percent) and Yahoo! (18 percent) formats. When you consider that Greene is the No. 13-ranked blueliner in ESPN and No. 25 in Yahoo!, his lack of ownership is stunning.

Any way you slice it, Greene belongs on fantasy rosters as a No. 3 defenseman. So why is Greene’s ownership so low? A few reasons:

  • Statistically speaking, he is a jack of all trades, master of none. He does not crack the top 10 among blueliners in goals, assists, shots on goal, penalty minutes, or +/-. His five goals seem impressive, until you remember that he snagged two of them Wednesday night. His 12 assists and eight PPPs are solid but not remarkable. His 34 shots on goal and four PIMs are downright weak. Only his +9 really catches the eye, but even that, as we mentioned, does not crack the positional top 10.
  • Until this season, Greene, 27, was a fantasy nobody. He does not even have a photo on Wikipedia. His track record consists of three previous NHL seasons, all with Mr. Brodeur (above) and Los Diablos. His categorical highs all came in 2007-08, when he played 59 games: two goals, eight assists, 22 PIMs, five PPPs and 50 shots on goal.

Given this resume, why is Greene worth your fantasy investment? Just because of a hot streak and a friendly +/- atmosphere? The answer is yes. To see why, you need to go beyond fantasy numbers. Sort the stats of all D-men by minutes played at NHL.com, and you’ll find Greene ranks 25th, averaging an impressive 23:50.

Examine Greene game-by-game, and you’ll find that this number is actually a low reflection of how much ice time Greene is getting. In fact, Greene has logged at least 24:22 in 16 of his last 18 games.

The point is simple: Greene is not some No. 4 defensemen on a hot streak. He is a key cog in the red-hot (four straight wins, seven of eight wins) Devils’ wheels. There may very well be more two-goal games in his future. Grab him now so you can reap the fantasy benefits.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons