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Fantasy Watch

Fantasy Watch: Avoiding the Hot Seat

Drafting a goaltender stuck on the hot seat can be one of the most stressful things about fantasy hockey. Not knowing who’s going to start and who’s going to sit can kill your fantasy team. Hoping to avoid that scenario, here are seven goaltenders that should post league leading stats and be free of controversy for this upcoming season

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
Brodeur was a fantasy monster last year, collecting career highs in wins (48) and shutouts (12). Ranking third in the league in both goals against average and save percentage, Brodeur was hands down the top fantasy goaltender last season. Losing Scott Gomez’s play making ability may hurt his win totals, but don’t expect Brodeur’s numbers to drop that significantly.

Mikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames
Last season, Kiprusoff’s numbers were down from his 2005/06 statistics , but he was still among the leaders in most statistical categories including wins (40) and save percentage (.917). Although Calgary lost two key defenseman in Roman Hamrlik and Brad Stuart, the signings of Adrian Aucion and Cory Sarich should help shore up Calgary’s defense for this upcoming season. The only thing holding Kiprusoff back from becoming the league’s best goalie is his inability to win on the road.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
It only took Fleury three years to vault into the class of some of the top goaltenders in the NHL. Having a career year last season, Fleury’s 40 wins placed him third in the league. Fleury still needs to improve on his goals against average, as well as his save percentage but at 22 there’s plenty of time for improvement. Newcomer Darryl Sydor strengthens Pittsburgh’s defense, which should allow Fleury to lower his GAA. Look for Fleury to continue to pile up wins as Pittsburgh boasts one of the league’s best offenses this year.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Anaheim Ducks
Giguere has battled injuries for the past few seasons making his latest setback no surprise. Out for the the season opener, Giguere is not expected to miss a lot of time as he recovers from a sports hernia. The goaltending situation in Anaheim is much different from a year ago; This season Gigeure enters as the sure number one netminder. While his role as number one goalie is cemented, Giguere will be without defenseman Scott Neidermayer, who has yet to decide whether to stick around for one more season or not. To add insult to injury, the former Conn Smythe winner will also be missing newly acquired defenseman Matthieu Schneider for the first couple weeks of the season. As a result, the Ducks will be a little thin on defense but are still deep enough to make Giguere a sure bet for 40 wins.

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
Finally escaping Florida, Luongo put up a career high in wins with 47 and a .921 save percentage, good for fourth best in the league. The only question mark surrounding Luongo is not his ability, but his team’s offensive support (or lack thereof); the Canucks were ranked near the bottom of the NHL in goals-for last season. As evidenced by last year’s playoffs, Luongo can only take the team so far, without any feared goal scorers in front of him, Luongo may miss out on a few extra victories.

Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks
Splitting time with Vesa Toskala last season, Nabokov only appeared in 50 games, collecting 25 wins on the season. Although his 25 wins weren’t as high as projected, Nabokov’s goals against average was among the top 10 in the league. With Toskala gone to Toronto, the starting job is now Nabokov’s. Expect the Russian netminder to revert back into a top goaltender which means at least 35 wins for this upcoming season.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabers
Improving his win total by 10 from the previous year, Miller led Buffalo to the best record in the Eastern Conference, but failed to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, as they were defeated by Ottawa in last year’s Conference Finals. Although Miller’s stats aren’t atop the leader board, he still manages to post a ton of wins, which makes him a top fantasy goaltender. Expect Miller’s numbers to take a slight hit this season with the loss of Briere and Drury; however, Miller should still post more than respectable numbers.

For Illegal Curve, I’m Jonny Remis.




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