On Prospects And Talent
Hey everyone! Long time no talk. The summer has been a total blur, as I was on the road for four straight months (literally) doing research for my second book on goaltending.
But now the regular season is underway, and I'm really excited about the work Dobber put into GoaliePost over the past few weeks. I finally have a simple and easy way to share some of my thoughts and insights during my travels this season. The 'Ramblings' were my favorite part of DobberHockey when I first found his website way back in 2007, and I'm stoked we now have a similar feature here on GoaliePost.
This article is just a brief introduction and welcome note, so look for my Ramblings starting on Monday!
Like Dobber explained, we both have our different strengths in terms of fantasy goaltending analysis. I'm the 'talent' and 'skill' guy, and he's the 'politics' and 'numbers' guy. Together, and thanks to the help of Jake and the rest of our GoaliePost crew, this is a great weapon to have in your back pocket.
As a way to introduce you to the new season, I wanted to briefly explain where NHL goaltending is at as a whole. This comes on the heels of spending a whole week in Madison working on the ice with eight NHL goaltenders (Bishop, Lehtonen, Lindback, Rynnas, Elliott, Allen, Hutchinson, Ellis) and four of the top goalie coaches in the world. I learned more about NHL goaltending performance in that week than I did on my own in three years.
A key stat: last season's cumulative SV% was .914, the best it has ever been. And that was with a giant crop of rookies "coming out of nowhere" and having success.
The lesson here? The difference in skill between Goalie #1 and Goalie #60 is slimmer than ever before. Maybe the top 4-5 guys are a tad bit faster, a tad bit smarter, a tad bit more flexible than the bottom 4-5 guys. But for the most part, toss any guy into the net in any given situation and they will compete and give you a chance to win.
So what really separates them (in terms of fantasy value) is, like Dobber said, politics and situation. As a result of this, things like team environment (offensive and defensive support), quality of competition, quality of teammates, coaching decisions, goalie coaching dynamics, and "lifetime vs" stats are more pertinent in terms of predicting success.
Even if you're in a one-year league, it's time to begin carrying a "Keeper League" mentality. It never fails; every season, regardless of age or experience, there will always be an influx of AHL goalies popping up and having success at the NHL level. You have to not only expect this, but prepare for it.
That being said, scouting reports on prospects and goalie depth charts are more important than ever before.
Last season, I won my fantasy league in the final two weeks on the shoulders of Cam Talbot. He compensated for injuries to Jon Quick and other goalies I owned. Nobody expected him to post such solid numbers...but I did. I did my homework, I followed his progress, and I knew that learning from Lundqvist and Benoit Allaire would push his talent to a higher level than other comparable backups. He pulled through in the final week and gave me the edge I needed by an .002 SV%.
I know this is not a common occurence, but sometimes the difference between winning and losing a fantasy league is by the slimmest of margins. Don't take the 3rd and 4th goalie spots on your roster for granted -- those are valuable points on the line. Projecting prospects that have small to zero NHL sample sizes isn't easy, but that's where I can help you weed out the weak.
There are more Cam Talbot's out there. I can tell you that Michael Hutchinson is going to perform well. He may only have two games of NHL experience under his belt, and he may be playing on a fragile Winnipeg team, but after seeing him up close in Madison, I can tell you he has the potential to steal quite a few starts from Ondrej Pavelec.
Petr Mrazek is an NHL goaltender right now. Jonas Gustavsson will not stay healthy all year.
Anders Lindback is going to thrive in Dallas.
Niklas Svedberg is not quite ready to be a reliable 20-game NHL backup, but the team around him should alleviate some of those concerns.
Justin Peters is in good hands with Mitch Korn and will continue to provide solid numbers in whatever role he has.
Reto Berra is not the same goalie he was with Calgary. He's already starting to put some pieces together with Francois Allaire, using his size more effectively and making more saves inside the blue paint. Think I'm crazy? Go back and watch his third period against Minnesota in their not-so-shocking 5-0 loss on Thursday.
Sami Aittokallio is the new #3 goalie in Colorado ... and while Berra is going to suppress his fantasy value over the next few years, there's no denying he could be a long-term gem. Gotta love those Finnish prospects.
This is just a small sampling of names that will be making a difference in the fantasy goalie landscape. Not in three years. Not next year. This year.
Through our new Ramblings feature and the Mailbag feature, I'm really excited to act as a resource for your fantasy goaltending needs all season long...so let's get this party started!