Who will the premier puck stoppers in 2013-2014 fantasy hockey be? It’s no secret that great teams are built from the goaltender out and the same applies to fantasy teams as well. Given that half of head-to-head hockey leagues are based on goaltending, they may even have more value than some of the top-tier forwards.

Enough yapping, let’s drop the puck on the rankings.

1. Antti Niemi San Jose

2. Henrik Lundqvist NY Rangers

3. Tuukka Rask Boston

4. Corey Crawford Chicago

5. Johnthan Quick Los Angeles

6. Mike Smith Phoenix

7. Jimmy Howard Detroit

8. Craig Anderson Ottawa

9. Roberto Luongo Vancouver

10. Sergei Bobrovsky Columbus

11. Kari Lehtonen Dallas

12. Carey Price Montreal

13. Niklas Backstrom Minnesota

14. Ryan Miller Buffalo

15. Pekka Rinne Nashville

16. Cam Ward Carolina

17. Corey Schneider New Jersey

18. Devan Dubnyk Edmonton

19. Marc-Andre Fleury Pittsburgh

20. Braden Holtby Washington

21. Johnathan Bernier Toronto

22. Jaroslav Halak St. Louis

23. Evgeni Nabokov NY Islanders

24. Ondrej Pavelec Winnipeg

25. Semyon Varlamov Colorado

26. Ray Emery Philadelphia

27. Ben Bishop Tampa Bay

28. Jonas Hiller Anaheim

29. Jacob Markstrom Florida

30. Karri Ramo Calgary

So, how did we get here? And, no, it didn’t involve pulling name out of a hat, darts nor alcohol.

Niemi comes first in a surprise. Last season, I found myself impressed with him night in and night out. It didn’t matter whether San Jose was scoring four or five a night or if they were going through droughts, Niemi kept them in virtually every game. He’s had one season with a goals against average above 2.40 in the last four seasons and that was a 2.42 mark two seasons ago. Niemi can be counted on for at least six shutouts a season. He’s also one of the better goaltenders in shootouts as evidenced by his win of theĀ Gilles Villemure Award from The Hockey News as the best shootout goaltender. Niemi may have said no during Chicago’s 2010 Cup run but it’s time to say yes to him as the best goaltender in fantasy hockey.

The next few players are all ones we’ve come to know and love so we don’t get another shock for a while.

Price comes in at #12 based on his late-season meltdown that continued into the playoffs and a first-round exit for Montreal. I wouldn’t want to hang my fantasy hopes on a guy who could blow up at any time and not recover.

Rinne is listed at #15 for two reasons. First, he had offseason hip surgery. The hip is the second most important part of a goaltender’s body besides the groin and it remains to be seen how well he will be physically. Second, the Predators gave him diddly squat for offensive support last season. You can be an awesome goaltender and give maybe a goal a night but when your team scores zero it just doesn’t matter. Rinne also had issues last season in shootouts and that robbed him of several wins.

Ward (#16) is the biggest question mark to me on the list. Which Ward will we get this season? The one who led Carolina to a Stanley Cup or the one who limped out of the gate last season, got no help from his defenders and barely lasted a month?

Fleury (#19) gets his spot based on his disappearing act in the playoffs when Tomas Vokoun tried to carry the Penguins deeper into the playoffs. The situation in Pittsburgh reeks of goaltender by committee and we don’t know how the starts will be given out between those two.

Hiller (#28) is another surprise. He got plenty of offensive support early in the season when the Ducks were putting up five or seven goals a night to open the season. Towards the end of the season he got nearly no support. Hiller got 15 goals of support in his final 10 starts. The Ducks scored more than two goals in just three of those game. Add the goaltender by committee setup here with Viktor Fasth and Hiller is a guy I am staying away from.

What’s the biggest surprise to you in the rankings? Leave it below in the comments.


  1. Curt says:

    Scneider and Nabokov too low in my view.

  2. Casey says:

    Ottawa is a team on the upswing and plays a solid defense first game. I’m banking on a big season from Craig Anderson and will grab Robin Lehner to back him up.

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:

      Agree with that. Lehner and Anderson should be a solid tandem this season.

  3. George says:

    I’m not sure about having Jimmy Howard as my #1 goaltender, I can tell you that. If he is considered #7 in this poll, then he would have to be drafted as such.

    I would much rather have Lehtonen even though Howard had a better year last year.

    I only have two hockey teams (both keeper leagues with one salary cap based).

    One team has Niemi, Anderson, Markstrom, and Lehner.

    The other has Lehtonen, Holtby, Bishop, and Fasth (this is the salary cap grouping).

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:

      Howard gets the workload. he looked solid down the stretch and was a pretty good player. One of the few consistent things on Detroit not named, Zetterberg nor Dastyuk.

      Nothing wrong with wanting Lehtonen but I prefer Howard to him.

  4. bauerspeed17 says:

    my favorite razzball sport is back!!!

    ….and Ramo makes his return to the NHL. What a weekend

  5. Marqo says:

    yast year you guys ranked Cam Award ahead of Lundqvist…
    didn’t you guys learn anything???

    it’s getting pathetic. seriously. Lundqvist is by far #1.

  6. Ryan G says:

    i love having Niemi higher in the rankings than any other list out there. He is the guy i am targeting as my number 2 if he isn’t kept in our 4-keep league(Im keeping Henrik).

    But putting over King Henrik seems more shock value based than realistic. Even using your same statistic about GAA over the past seasons, Henrik reigns supreme.

    Love the list, but give the King his well deserved love!!!

    • Ryan G says:

      @Ryan G: and unbelievably, ESPN has Niemi at 14 behind Hiller AND Fleury….OMG i hope people follow their rankings during our draft!

      • Andrew Nordmeier

        Andrew Nordmeier says:

        That’s a shock to say the least.

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:

      There is some shock value to it, yes. But we have to admit he is one of the better ones out there. And Lundqvist has certainly had his time at the top. It’s hard to start breaking rankings into 1A, 1B, 1C and so on.

      • Ryan G says:

        @Andrew Nordmeier: alls fair

        Can’t really go wrong with the top 3. I’m very interested in seeing how the year pans out for Smith, Anderson, Crawford and Quick a

        • Andrew Nordmeier

          Andrew Nordmeier says:

          Agreed. Smith will be interesting down here in Phoenix. Crawford has the chance to get offense in front of him consistently. Anderson should get some extra boost from a healthy team unlike all the injuries they limped through last season.

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