Shuffle Up: Pianow's 2021 fantasy hockey goalie board

Scott Pianowski
·5 min read

You have a big fantasy hockey draft coming in the next few days. Goaltending is the most important position. Let’s try to help you out.

The usual caveats apply. This is a position that you must grind all season. You can never have enough running backs in fantasy football, you can never have enough pitching in fantasy baseball, and you can never have enough goaltending in fantasy hockey. And like those pitchers, remember that good goalies can go bad and unheralded goalies can go good at any time, often without any reasonable or logical warning.

To the board:

Goalie, Team, ADP, Team O/U

The Big Tickets

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning (7, 78.5)

Connor Hellebuyck, Jets (16, 60.5)

Even without Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning are on the shortlist of Cup contenders. I am an eyelash concerned about a deep playoff run tied to a short break, but there’s too much talent here to sweat it . . . Helly leads the league in starts, saves, and shutouts, en route to the Vezina Trophy. Into an age-27 season, this is his prime.

Blue Chips

Carter Hart, Flyers (33, 67.5)

Robin Lehner, Knights (35, 81.5)

Carey Price, Canadiens (48, 67.5)

Frederik Andersen, Maple Leafs (52, 74.5)

*Tuukka Rask, Bruins (32, 77.5)

Anton Khudobin, Stars (74, 71.5)

Igor Shesterkin, Rangers (51, 57.5)

Jordan Binnington, Blues (40, 71.5)

Ilya Samsonov, Capitals (42, 64.5)

Philipp Grubauer, Avalanche (77, 82.5)

Jacob Markstrom, Flames (79, 62.5)

I won’t blame you if you want Lehner lower on your board, concerned about the presence of MAF . . .Rask turns 34 in two months and the Bruins have lost key personnel on the blue line . . . Samsonov doesn’t have much of a track record, but the Capitals probably have the best 1-6 defense group in the league . . . Khudobin showed No. 1 goaltending chops last year, and Ben Bishop isn’t going to be back anytime soon . . . Toronto has been a semi-tease for a few years — a roster that should contend for Cups, a set of results that have disappointed — but I’ll go back to the well one more time. The lofty O/U shows they have the support of the books (either that, or the public can’t help themselves with Toronto) . . . Grubauer would be much higher if he had the gig to himself. Colorado is probably the deepest team in the west, if not in hockey altogether.

Goaltender Frederik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Is this finally the year for Frederik Andersen and the Leafs? (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

Buoyed by Good Situations

Tristan Jarry, Penguins (64, 74.5)

Thatcher Demko, Canucks (159, 62.5)

Marc-Andre Fleury, Knights (84, 81.5)

Darcy Kuemper, Coyotes (66, 56.5)

Semyon Varlamov, Islanders (156, 63.5)

Braden Holtby, Canucks (103, 62.5)

This should be the season the Coyotes leave Kuemper alone and let him make the majority of the starts. He had the highest quality start percentage in the league last year . . . If you can pick the winner in the Vancouver net, you have my permission to move him up 7-10 slots. Somehow, Holtby had a messy .897 save percentage last year despite plenty of help in front of him . . . Jarry is coming off a surprise All-Star season, though Casey DeSmith could easily see 30-40 percent of the starts.

Need Stuff to Fall Right

Elvis Merzlikins, Jackets (111, 63.5)

Joonas Korpisalo, Jackets (127, 63.5)

Pavel Francouz, Avalanche (96, 82.5)

*Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers (131, 55.5)

Jaroslav Halak, Bruins (123, 77.5)

Petr Mrazek, Hurricanes (91, 73.5)

Juuse Saros, Predators (119, 58.5)

Cam Talbot, Wild (166, 57.5)

Ilya Sorokin, Islanders (171, 63.5)

John Gibson, Ducks (155, 49.5)

Matt Murray, Senators (175, 43.5)

Bobrovsky got the big contract and then fell on his face, but into an age-32 season, a rebound is a likely bet . . . All of Mrazek’s stats fell off, but at least there’s not a major threat to his job . . . Halak is one of the most interesting backup goalies if you don’t have good vibes on Rask’s return . . . Murray’s going to get pelted with puck all year, especially tied to that nasty all-Canada schedule.

Get Lucky

Linus Ullmark, Sabres (166, 54.5)

Mackenzie Blackwood, Devils (178, 53.5)

Jonathan Quick, Kings (162, 43.5)

Devan Dubnyk, Sharks (184, 51.5)

James Reimer, Hurricanes (171, 73.5)

Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers (179, 57.5)

Mikko Koskinen, Oilers (176, 65.6)

Jake Allen, Canadiens (164, 67.5)

Pekka Rinne, Predators (162, 58.5)

Martin Jones, Sharks (171, 51.5)

David Rittich, Flames (164, 62.5)

Malcolm Subban, Blackhawks (163, 44.5)

Calvin Petersen, Kings (168, 43.5)

Antti Raanta, Coyotes (169, 56.5)

Carter Hutton, Sabres (169, 54.5)

Casey DeSmith, Penguins (169, 74.5)

Chris Driedger, Panthers (167, 55.5)

Mike Smith, Oilers (230, 65.5)

Kaapo Kahkonen, Wild (230, 57.5)

Curtis McElhinney, Lightning (230, 78.5)

*Alex Stalock, Wild (184, 57.5)

With Crawford’s status up in the air, Blackwood might have to play most of the time in New Jersey . . . Allen was generally a little underrated in St. Louis, but Price is a workhorse who wants to play almost every night . . . The Sharks don’t look like a playoff roster, which makes me sad; I’ll avoid both of their guys. To be fair, Jones played on plenty of playoff teams and was commonly the weak link . . . Ullmark had a respectable .915 save percentage, but I’ve been burned predicting a Buffalo breakout the last few years. Maybe I need to see it on the ice first. You can’t draft him as a sure thing.

And The Rest

Thomas Greiss, Red Wings (230, 42.5)

Jonathan Bernier, Red Wings (230, 42.5)

Jack Campbell, Maple Leafs (165, 74.5)

Brian Elliott, Flyers (230, 67.5)

Collin Delia, Blackhawks (230, 44.5)

Laurent Brossoit, Jets (230, 60.5)

Ryan Miller, Ducks (230, 49.5)

*Corey Crawford, Devils (230, 53.5)

*Ben Bishop, Stars (124, 71.5)

Calvin Pickard, Red Wings (230, 42.5)

Marcus Hogberg, Senators (230, 43.5)

Ville Husso, Blues (40, 71.5)

Vitek Vanecek, Capitals (900, 64.5)

Jake Oettinger, Stars (124, 71.5)

*Anders Nilsson, Lightning (900, 78.5)

Bishop might not be back until April . . . Detroit still looks like one of the 3-4 worst teams in hockey, negating any value in their net.