We’re at the end of individual rankings! Almost 15,000 words later, we’ve ranked the top 100 forwards and 40 defensemen. Now, we conclude that with my goaltending rankings. I’m going to start by talking about my goaltending strategy for drafts, then split the goalies into tiers. I’m not going to go in-depth on every goalie, just the ones that I feel are worth talking about, mostly because I’m higher or lower on somebody. The reason I don’t want to go very in-depth on every goalie is that the variance on goaltending from season to season is massive. In other words, even the best goalies have poor seasons from time to time, and guys will come out of nowhere to have excellent seasons. Did anyone know who Jordan Binnington was a year ago? The public certainly did not. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss were afterthoughts for most. Darcy Kuemper was the backup and wasn’t drafted outside of deep leagues. Those goalies were the 3rd-6th ranked goalies at the end of the season. This is why I never draft goalies in the first two rounds, and never more than one in the first 7-8 rounds. If you like to have one presumed top end goalie, that’s fine, go for it in the 4th-5th rounds if they’re still there. Just do not reach, because the range of outcomes in goalies is incredibly wide, while forwards and defensemen are much more certain. Any other questions on this, let me know in the comments section below. Here are my tiers:
Tier 1: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Vasilevskiy is the one exception to taking goaltending early. As I noted in my top 20 here, I’m comfortable taking him in the second round. He’s the safest goalie on the board and could easily be the #1 goalie (he was #2 last season).
Tier 2: Ben Bishop, Frederik Andersen, Sergei Bobrovsky – Bishop was the #1 goalie last season despite only playing 46 games. That’s how absurd his 1.98/.934 were. Obviously that will regress some, but Dallas’ system is strong and Bishop’s volume increasing by staying healthy would be great. We know the deal with Andersen by now, and Bob’s arrival in Florida shouldn’t change his value much from Columbus.
Tier 3: Philipp Grubauer, Pekka Rinne, Tuukka Rask, John Gibson, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jordan Binnington, Carey Price – This tier has a bunch of guys who are in different situations. The safest are Rask and Rinne, but they will have the lowest volume here. Best case, you get 55 games from one of them. Boston makes sure to give Rask enough rest during the season to be ready for the playoffs, and Rinne has entered the point of his career where they keep him rested to get Saros more action. I love Grubauer this season. He had a horrible start to last season and still had a .917, which was the worst of his career. Now he’ll have the volume with Varlamov gone on an improved team. Fleury and Price’s volume should make them a bottom end #1. Gibson is an incredible goalie, but the team situation worries me a bit. I do think they’ll be a bit better this season, and he’s probably the best goalie on the planet so the save percentage will be an asset. Binnington is the ultimate wild card. Could he simply be a late bloomer? Sure. Could he massively regress this season? Absolutely. Anyone who says they definitely know is lying to you, but I trust the team in front of him more than the guys after him, so I’m fine with putting him towards the bottom of this tier.
Tier 4: Semyon Varlamov, Petr Mrazek, Matt Murray, Braden Holtby, Carter Hart, Connor Hellebuyck, Devan Dubnyk – I’m gambling on Varlamov in Trotz’ system. I obviously don’t expect a season like Lehner had, but the upside is extremely high and Varly has had big seasons before. I love Mrazek as the main guy in Carolina. That team should be very good, and he had a 2.39 GAA last season in 40 games. Murray and Holtby scare me. Murray can never stay healthy and their blue line is a disaster. Holtby has had two poor seasons in a row and I’m not really expecting a bounce back to previous form. This may be underrating Hart, but it’s been a while since a Flyers goalie was actually valuable. He did have a solid .917 sv%, but 2.83 GAA isn’t going to help matters. I wrote a post on what Hellboy is a bust this season; you can read that here. I’m even more worried now because of the Byfuglien situation. Dubnyk is simply not a good goalie anymore, but the system keeps his numbers at a respectable level, and he gets very good volume.
Tier 5: Henrik Lundqvist, Robin Lehner, Corey Crawford, Thatcher Demko, Martin Jones, Antti Raanta – It’s hard to figure out if Hank will bounce back, but I don’t love his chances. The Rangers defense is improved, but it’s still not great and the team is very young. I have no idea how the goaltending situation works out in Chicago. I don’t mind taking both parts of the duo in roto leagues, but in general I don’t really want Chicago goaltending. We’re probably a year away from Demko making the big jump, but I expect him to have some really good stretches this season. Jones will get you wins, but I remain very low on him. He’s simply not good. Raanta is a massive wild card. He was great two seasons ago, but was hurt most of last season. He could bounce back, but he has a short lease with Kuemper coming off a terrific season in his own right.
Tier 6: Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak, Juuse Saros, David Rittich, Carter Hutton, Mackenzie Blackwood, Cam Talbot, Cory Schneider, Linus Ullmark – If Varlamov fails, Greiss could hold tremendous value. For now, I’m counting him in a group with Halak and Saros as the best backups in the league. They’ll get 25+ starts and be elite in those starts. The other guys appear to be in a timeshare, but it’s unclear who will end up getting the most starts or how good they’ll be. Obviously the Flames are the best team in the bunch, but Rittich wasn’t that valuable last season anyways. I guess I’d prefer to gamble on Blackwood out of this group, but if I was drafting multiple leagues, I would be mixing who my third and/or fourth goalies are.
Tier 7: Jimmy Howard, Joonas Korpisalo, Mikko Koskinen, Jonathan Quick, Darcy Kuemper, Jacob Markstrom, Elvis Merzlikins, Mike Smith, Craig Anderson – Most of these guys get volume on bad teams. That makes them valuable in deep leagues if you need starts, but not much value otherwise. Kuemper or Markstrom could break out of here if their starter struggles, or potentially a CBus goalie, but that’s about it. I don’t mind gambling on Elvis only because I think Korpisalo is bad. There are other backups that you could add into this tier e.g. Curtis McElhinney because they are great streamers, but barring injury I don’t see ever holding any other backups.
That’s all for now guys. Please ask any questions in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer you. I’ll try to get a top 200 list out on Saturday morning for everyone, but it will be by Monday at the latest. Thanks for reading, take care!