Fantasy Hockey Goalie Stats: Are Some Overrated?

Ben Bishop Fantasy Hockey


Ben Bishop Fantasy Hockey
Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports

The thing people often have to remember in fantasy hockey is that categories are mostly basic. Granted, you can delve into blocks, faceoff win %, minutes played, etc. However when it comes to goalies, most leagues have pretty standard categories such as wins, GAA, save percentage, and shutouts. That is how the vast majority of leagues do it basically.

I am going to use something different in evaluating a goalie’s usefulness fantasy wise. Let’s take a little of the less advanced, mix the advanced stats, and create something in the middle. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Goalie Advanced Stats:

First and foremost, thanks to the creator of More and more fantasy hockey experts and fans alike are using advanced statistics. First off let’s take a quick look at 5 on 5 save percentage. This is a pretty easily explainable one.

Goalie 5 on 5 Sv % Leaders:*

  1. Ben Bishop (TB) — 94.6%
  2. Tuukka Rask (BOS) — 94.2%
  3. Josh Harding (MIN) — 94.2%
  4. Semyon Varlamov (COL) — 93.6%
  5. Jonathan Bernier (TOR) — 93%

* = minimum 26 games played

That is the top five. Out of that list four of them are in the running for the Vezina Trophy. More importantly, fantasy wise, these top four are probably ranked 1-4 in some order in fantasy circles. During the “Olympic Break” on XNSports, we will unveil our Fantasy Vezina nominees and winner up to this point so far. Also, there is the corresponding PDO which measures luck by combining goalie save percentage with shooting percentage while said goalie is on the ice. For those wondering where a guy like Cory Schneider ranks (he is top 5 in save % and GAA), he would be 8th at 92.8%.

Meanwhile, let’s look at that PDO statistic because some familiar names pop up.

Goalie PDO Leaders:

  1. Ben Bishop (TB) — 103
  2. Jonas Hiller (ANA) — 102.6
  3. Tuukka Rask (BOS) — 102.3
  4. Semyon Varlamov (COL) — 102.3
  5. Jonathan Bernier (TOR) — 102.1

Like I said four of those five names from the previous list are right here. Only Josh Harding was switched out for Jonas Hiller but that is what happens when the Ducks shoot at a clip of just over 9% when Hiller is in net and Harding’s team only shoots at a 7.2%. It is a difference of almost two percent but that is sizable when talking differences in goal support. By the way, the same 26 game minimum exists for this criteria.

The interesting story is in Tampa where Ben Bishop is our leading choice for the Fantasy Vezina and that is without Steven Stamkos. Does Tampa let up when he returns in a few weeks or do they keep on rolling? The same thing goes with Anaheim, can they keep shooting around 9% at even strength? Logic dictates no but it is entirely possible.

This all points to the crux of the post. Are some fantasy stats overrated for goalies? The partial answer is no. Now yes, there is regression and progression but those do not always happen. Sometimes it is predictable and sometimes it is now. Even advanced stats dictate that they cannot be right 100% of the time and obviously regular stats are not as well.

Hockey Reference has an interesting stat called Goals Saved Above Average. What is it?

GSAA: The goals this goalie prevented given his shots faced and save percentage versus the league average save percentage on the same number of shots. A minimum of four shots per team game qualifies.

All I know is there were some interesting surprises in the results here.

Goalie Statistics

  Goalie Stats
1 Ben Bishop TBL 37 25 6 4 70 1065 995 .934 1.96 4 22.04
2 Tuukka Rask BOS 38 22 12 3 77 1081 1004 .929 2.11 5 16.43
3 Semyon Varlamov COL 40 25 9 5 92 1241 1149 .926 2.38 1 15.25
4 Ryan Miller BUF 34 12 19 3 90 1201 1111 .925 2.64 0 13.80
5 Jonathan Bernier TOR 37 17 15 4 91 1211 1120 .925 2.63 1 13.66
6 Josh Harding MIN 29 18 7 3 46 690 644 .933 1.65 3 13.63
7 Roberto Luongo VAN 36 18 11 6 75 982 907 .924 2.18 3 9.87
8 Cory Schneider NJD 25 9 9 7 47 653 606 .928 1.84 3 9.44
9 Cam Talbot NYR 16 10 4 0 27 418 391 .935 1.78 2 9.13
10 Martin Jones LAK 12 8 4 0 20 335 315 .940 1.72 3 8.95


Are we any closer to an answer here? That is actually a yes. If statistics are too advanced, not enough people will understand them. At the same time, if you keep with the same tried and true numbers, readers will get bored quickly. Therefore it was time to mix and match and come up with a mini rankings of sorts for fantasy goalies.

The Wassel Fantasy Vezina Five

  1. Ben Bishop (TBL)
  2. Tuukka Rask (BOS)
  3. Semyon Varlamov (COL)
  4. Josh Harding (MIN)
  5. Jonathan Bernier (TOR)

Ryan Miller and Cory Schneider are just off the list but not by much. What would your top five be? Hey, we would like to know in the comments section. Thanks again for reading and remember to follow me on Twitter @ChrisWasselTHW for more hockey, fantasy hockey, and Olympic hockey.

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Chris Wassel
Chris Wassel writes for XN Sports, The Hockey Writers, Dobberhockey, and many others. He is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has never turned a question away in 10+ years of writing so ask away @ChrisWasselTHW.