In the Crease: Quick moves up

Updated: June 28, 2012, 7:35 AM ET
By Tim Kavanagh | Special to ESPN.com

NHL draft weekend is still fresh in our minds, and as we know, goaltenders selected do not generally make an instant impact on their new team, at least recently. Since the 2000 NHL Draft, only Rick DiPietro and Marc-Andre Fleury have taken the ice in the season following their selection, and each was the No. 1 overall pick. That trend will most likely continue in 2012-13.

No. 19 overall pick Andrei Vasilevski is headed to a Tampa Bay Lightning club that does have some questions in goal, but just acquired Anders Lindback and already has Dustin Tokarski in the system. Vasilevski has indicated he'll try to get out of the remaining time on his contract with Ufa of the Russian junior league in order to play in North America, but it'll be another year or more before he challenges for the starting gig. Meanwhile, with Tim Thomas' future up in the air, the Boston Bruins selected Malcolm Subban with the No. 24 pick. However, the plan is for Subban to return to his junior team for 2012-13, as the B's already have Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin in the mix.

Despite the fact that the draftees aren't going to be on the ice right away, that doesn't mean that there isn't anything new to chew on regarding NHL transactions and their impact within the fantasy realm. The aforementioned Lindback trade is just the start, and we learned a lot more about some goalies from the postseason (though regular readers of this column should not have been surprised by Jonathan Quick's run). I'll be back in a few weeks once the major free agent dominoes have fallen -- as well as a possible Roberto Luongo trade -- but here's a look at where we stand as of this week.

Playoff Heroes and Zeroes

[+] EnlargeJonathan Quick
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesJonathan Quick moves to the top of the fantasy goalie rankings for next season, based in large part on his stellar playoff run.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings (up one spot from April to No. 1): While Quick had struggled down the stretch in previous campaigns, he had his shaky month early on this season: in November, he posted a 4-5-2 mark with a 2.43 GAA and .924 save percentage, which frankly isn't all that bad. And you may've heard he had an OK time during the playoffs as well: He went 16-4, with a 1.41 GAA and .946 save percentage. It wasn't just Quick's statistical dominance, either, as opposing teams were frustrated by his fundamental soundness in positioning, rebound control and, well, quickness in the crease. Quick is only 26, and the Kings will return much of the Stanley Cup-winning roster this fall. He's an easy first-round pick for those who choose to solidify the position early on in their draft.

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils (up four spots to No. 12): The Devils' aggressive forechecking got a lot of attention during their surprising (to some) playoff run, and that overshadowed the fact that Brodeur had an impressive postseason himself, getting the Devils to within two wins of their fourth championship. Perhaps more than any other playoff goalie, Brodeur's final playoff stats stick out for their improvement over the regular season (and especially considering he was pulled in Game 3 of Round 1). During 59 regular season starts, Brodeur was good for 2.41/.908 ratios, whereas he posted 2.12/.917 ratios during his 24 postseason appearances. This could be an offseason of significant change in New Jersey: Team captain Zach Parise is set to hit free agency on July 1, and Brodeur himself is also an impending free agent and may retire. If he does come back, he'll be a reasonably strong No. 2 goaltender option for fantasy purposes, Parise or no Parise.

Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks (up 26 spots to No. 7): I suppose it's a little weird to consider a man who didn't win even one playoff series a "playoff hero," but there's so much more to the situation in the Vancouver net. Longtime stalwart (and the man who helped guide the team to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011) Roberto Luongo was yanked in the opening round series against the Kings in favor of Schneider, and the consensus now is that he'll be traded once the Canucks get an offer that they like. Looking back to Schneider, he allowed four goals over three starts this postseason -- good for a 1.31 GAA -- and stopped 97 of 101 shots, which works out to a .960 save percentage. He's not going to post numbers like that in 2012-13. But given that he was good for 1.96/.937 ratios in the 2011-12 regular season and is taking over as the unquestioned No. 1 starter for one of the top contenders in the league, there's no reason why he won't be among the ranks of the No. 1 fantasy goalies next season as well.

Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals (up nine spots to No. 15): As with Quick, Holtby is no stranger to regular readers of this column, having shown brief flashes of his potential over the past two seasons (when he was given the opportunity to do so): In 21 appearances during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, he went 14-4-0 with a 2.02 GAA and .929 save percentage. So the 1.95/.935 ratios aren't huge shocks, though the fact that he had his coming out party on such a large stage speaks to his mental makeup just as much as his physical skills. Now that Tomas Vokoun is gone, it's just the talented but inconsistent Michal Neuvirth standing in between Holtby and the starting gig, a decision that will be made by the new coaching staff. The choice seems clear from this writer's perspective, though it must be noted that I'll greatly miss the Hershey Bears-inspired mask if he does choose to adopt something more D.C.-centric. The 22-year-old will be worthy of a No. 2 goalie job in fantasy with No. 1 upside.

Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes (up five spots to No. 3): Smith's meteoric rise from No. 63 on the ESPN Player Rater at the end of the 2010-11 season to No. 4 for 2011-12 foreshadowed an impressive playoff run that ended with his ratios at 1.99 and .944. The Coyotes were reportedly listening to offers for defenseman Keith Yandle over the past few weeks -- and some believe he's still available if the price is right -- and his loss would certainly be a negative for Smith, both for Yandle's defensive-zone work and his offensive production (he was the team's fourth-leading scorer this past season). While Yandle remains somewhat in limbo, the Coyotes were able to acquire fellow D-man Zbynek Michalek back from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Michalek will likely team up with Oliver Ekman-Larsson to form a top pair for the Coyotes capable of shutting down opponents' top scorers, and that certainly boosts Smith's value significantly. There is certainly some uncertainty regarding the franchise in general, but on the ice, their man in goal should be an elite option in fantasy again.

Top 40 Goalies

Note: Tim Kavanagh's top 40 goalies are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN Standard Leagues. ESPN standard stats include wins, goals-against average and save percentage. Previous ranking (April) is indicated in parentheses.

1. Jonathan Quick, LA (2)
2. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (1)
3. Mike Smith, Pho (8)
4. Jimmy Howard, Det (3)
5. Jaroslav Halak, StL (7)
6. Pekka Rinne, Nsh (4)
7. Cory Schneider, Van (33)
8. Tuukka Rask, Bos (30)
9. Ryan Miller, Buf (10)
10. Roberto Luongo, Van (5)
11. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pit (6)
12. Martin Brodeur, NJ (16)
13. Carey Price, Mon (13)
14. Kari Lehtonen, Dal (12)
15. Braden Holtby, Was (24)
16. Cam Ward, Car (17)
17. Craig Anderson, Ott (19)
18. Ilya Bryzgalov, Phi (9)
19. Devan Dubnyk, Edm (18)
20. Brian Elliott, StL (14)
21. Jonas Hiller, Ana (15)
22. Ondrej Pavelec, Wpg (27)
23. Jacob Markstrom, Fla (32)
24. Semyon Varlamov, Col (20)
25. Anders Lindback, TB (NR)
26. Niklas Backstrom, Min (21)
27. Antti Niemi, SJ (22)
28. Evgeni Nabokov, NYI (23)
29. Sergei Bobrovsky, Cls (37)
30. Josh Harding, Min (25)
31. Corey Crawford, Chi (26)
32. Miikka Kiprusoff, Cgy (28)
33. Tomas Vokoun, Pit (29)
34. Jose Theodore, Fla (31)
35. Richard Bachman, Dal (34)
36. Jhonas Enroth, Buf (35)
37. Ben Bishop, Ott (36)
38. Dustin Tokarski, TB (38)
39. Jonas Gustavsson, Wpg (NR)
40. James Reimer, Tor (40)

Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings (down one spot to No. 4): We knew that the Red Wings wouldn't be able to keep the Nashville Predators down forever, and this postseason was finally the tipping point. Howard certainly didn't do his club any favors, finishing the five-game run with a 2.64 GAA and .888 save percentage. I'm not overly concerned about those numbers; many a goalie has had a bad series and subsequently come back to his dominant form the next season. I am a little concerned, however, with the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom. Sure, the team has been linked to Ryan Suter in free-agency rumors, but Lidstrom was an all-time great still playing at an exceptional level. Free agency will be big this offseason for Detroit, and Howard's rating will be affected by who the team does (and doesn't) sign.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins (down five spots to No. 11): After a Fleury meltdown in the series against Philadelphia -- 26 goals-against (!) in six games yielded a 4.63 GAA and .834 save percentage -- the Penguins assessed the situation and figured that fatigue was a factor, according to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun. Ergo the acquisition of Tomas Vokoun to be the Flower's new backup backstop. I'm not totally buying that explanation: Fleury made 64 starts this season, compared to 62 in 2010-11, 66 in 2009-10 and 61 in 2008-09. In each of those prior seasons with a similar number of starts, he went on to play considerably better in the postseason, including a Stanley Cup win following the 2008-09 campaign. Regardless, it would stand to reason that we will see a bit less of Fleury in 2012-13; it won't be an equal timeshare with Vokoun by any means, but 55 to 60 starts wouldn't be shocking, either. And with shutdown blue-liner Zbynek Michalek shipped back to Phoenix, that's a key defensive zone ally gone. Free-agency moves -- Will they use all their new cap space to go after Suter? -- will have a stout impact on Fleury's fantasy value heading into this upcoming season.

Changing Sweaters

Anders Lindback, Tampa Bay Lightning (debuts at No. 25): In 2011-12, the Lightning were tied for eighth in the NHL in scoring by season's end, their 232 goals producing a 2.83 goals-per-game rate. However, due to some less-than-stellar play in net from Dwayne Roloson, Mathieu Garon and (for a brief time) Dustin Tokarski, Tampa Bay finished with a -0.56 differential between goals for and goals against per game; the only teams with worse differentials last season were the offensively-challenged Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild. Enter Lindback, the latest in an extensive line of impressive netminders developed in the Nashville Predators system. Pekka Rinne is entrenched as the franchise goalie in Music City, so this is a great opportunity for the Sweden native. Will he deliver? He allowed 32 goals in 16 appearances last season, posting a 2.42 GAA and .912 save percentage, considerably better than what Tampa got from Roloson, Garon or Tokarski. It's a different defensive system, so we won't be able to really tell how well he'll do until he has some games under his belt; nevertheless, based on what the Lightning gave up for him, it would appear he'll begin his tenure in Tampa as the undisputed starter.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets (up eight spots to No. 29): Long-rumored to be a potential landing spot for Luongo, the Blue Jackets instead elected to deal with the Philadelphia Flyers for a second straight offseason. No, they didn't take Ilya Bryzgalov's albatross of a contract off Philly's books; instead, they opted for his backup, Sergei Bobrovsky. On its face, the deal came under significant scrutiny: Why did Columbus choose the uncertainty of a young, inconsistent prospect over a surefire franchise netminder such as Luongo or a more accomplished young option such as Jonathan Bernier? We'll probably never get the full answer to those questions, but it's not like Bobrovsky is a total stiff, either. His 2011-12 season ended on a sour note -- he posted 4.16/.860 ratios over 10 games played during the final three calendar months -- but from the beginning of the season through the end of January (19 games played), he was good for a 2.42 GAA and .919 save percentage, which isn't too shabby. And as a rookie in 2010-11, he finished with a 28-13-8 record, 2.59 GAA and .915 save percentage, finishing seventh in Calder Trophy voting. Though the Blue Jackets don't have the star power of the Flyers, it's a team that has placed an emphasis on adding to their defense recently, securing Jack Johnson in the Jeff Carter trade before the midseason deadline and drafting Ryan Murray with the No. 2 overall pick. Scoring may be an issue -- especially if the Rick Nash trade comes to pass -- but that only affects one of three goaltending categories here in the fantasy world. Bobrovsky will have some value if he can manage to improve on those splits from the first half of 2011-12.

Jonas Gustavsson, Winnipeg Jets (debuts at No. 39): This is no done deal yet -- and "The Monster" may well end up a free agent come July 1 -- but the Swedish import's rights now belong to the Jets, who just re-signed Ondrej Pavelec to a five-year deal. Pavelec had been considering an offer from the KHL, possibly prompting Gustavsson's acquisition. But Gustavsson has some potential remaining himself: Perhaps a change of scenery -- whether that's in Winnipeg or somewhere else after July 1 -- will be good for the man who signed amid considerable hype in Toronto three summers ago. We'll have a better sense of how Gustavsson fits into the mix later this summer, but keep him in mind as a potential sleeper candidate for this season.

Other fantasy-relevant goalies set to hit the market on July 1: Antero Niittymaki, Al Montoya, Scott Clemmensen, Johan Hedberg, Cristobal Huet.

Help Has Arrived

These netminders are thanking their GMs after the draft weekend brought in some players who can help out right away.

Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers (down one spot to No. 19): Another offseason, another No. 1 overall pick headed to the Oilers. Instead of grabbing a defenseman -- still a significant need for the club -- Edmonton instead took Nail Yakupov, generally considered the best prospect in this year's group, further bolstering an impressive stockpile of young offensive talent. Whether Yakupov winds up on a line with fellow No. 1 overall picks Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, the team should be able to improve on their scoring production from 2011-12, as their 2.52 goals per game was good for a tie for the coveted No. 19 slot. And as for that defensive deficiency, Dubnyk was able to make it work pretty well with the players on hand: in his final 13 starts this past season, he managed a 2.04 GAA and .933 save percentage. So if the Oilers can continue to improve on the offensive end with Yakupov's addition, this should provide some additional wins for Dubnyk, which is the deficient area of his fantasy worth. He's a No. 2 goalie for fantasy with No. 1 upside this season.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres (up one spot to No. 9): Another team that needed to improve its offensive output looking ahead to 2012-13 (they scored four more goals over the course of 2011-12 than the Oilers), the Sabres used the No. 12 overall pick on center Mikhail Grigorenko and the No. 14 pick on fellow pivot Zemgus Girgensons, both of whom have the size and skill to play at the NHL level this fall. Miller's ratios in 2011-12 (2.54/.916) were on par with his career averages, but the 31 wins kept him out of the midst of the elite in fantasy. With the offense potentially generated by the Sabres' additions, that could change this upcoming season.

Tim Kavanagh

Fantasy and Insider
Tim Kavanagh is an associate editor for ESPN Fantasy and Insider, with specific responsibility for NHL and fantasy hockey coverage in addition to other sports.

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