Wins are a quintessential category in fantasy hockey when it comes to goalies. For better or worse, your netminders have to rack up the W’s. Wins are just vital in general and determine a significant amount of tiebreakers when it comes to seeding for the playoffs and/or playoff fates.
Always remember that the best goalies do not always mean the most wins. When one looks at other numbers, the correlation is just not direct 100% of the time. Cory Schneider had one of the best goals against average all season but had less than 20 wins despite appearing in 45 games.
In this new era, there are some very obvious trends. Goalies do not start 70 games anymore. Most of them start about 60-65 times in an average seasons and some even less due to a variety of reasons. Clearly goalies will rarely approach 45-48 wins on a consistent basis. As a matter of fact, only one goalie broke the 40-win plateau this year. At any rate, here are the three best with a twist or two.
Fantasy Hockey Wins Leaders
Second Place (TIE) — Antti Niemi — San Jose Sharks
Some will heartily consider Antti Niemi as a product of a system once again. He had 39 wins in 64 games played on a contender. However, that playoff series is going to haunt him for a very long time. The season was more a series of ups and downs with a very good October followed by flashes of good and bad play rife with inconsistency. It was why, despite an average .913 save percentage, his fantasy viability was high because of the wins. Elite regular season teams plus pretty good goaltending can work for you as Niemi showed last year.
Second Place (TIE) — Marc-Andre Fleury — Pittsburgh Penguins
In the playoffs, Marc-Andre Fleury is usually an adventure but is fairly consistent during the regular season while playing 60-65 times on average. Sure enough, he did that again and produced a 39-win campaign. That .915 save percentage is a hair above average but that was all you needed in Pittsburgh as the Penguins ran out to a huge division lead then coasted throughout the second half. People often laugh when you say I own Fleury in a fantasy hockey league but as long as he is in Pittsburgh, he is a strong start. That is just the bottom line.
First Place — Semyon Varlamov — Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche rode the “PDO Wave” all year behind the stellar goaltending of Semyon Varlamov. Out of the top five goalies in wins, Varlamov was the only one who faced more than 30 shots a night. He also broke the 40-win plateau (41) in just 63 games played with a robust .927 save percentage. Considering how porous the Colorado defense was compared to the front end talent, it looked like the Russian goalie was almost by himself at times. Can he continue this next season? That will partially be up to the defense, an arbitration hearing, and the offense of course.
Our honorable mentions are naturally Ben Bishop and Vezina winner Tuukka Rask. The goalies had 37 and 36 wins respectively though Rask did it in only 58 games played. Yes Boston was just that good all year and even with subtractions could be almost as good next season. However, the other four guys face question marks that are not necessarily their doing. Needless to say, stay tuned!