What's Happenin'? Sven back for another goalies article. Here we will be covering the top 10! If you missed ranks 11-20, you can catch up HERE. Because of the increase in teams using the 1A/1B combo, I would call it mandatory to nab one of these goalies for start volume.
Let's get right to it:
1. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Plain and simple, Vas is the gold standard.
2. Robin Lehner
Gone is the unavoidable drama of sharing the net, and having to play Colorado eight times. What remains the same is a dominant defensive corps with a scary offence in front of them. With Laurent Brossoit backing Lehner up and filling his 20-game per season quota, I expect Lehner to lead NHL goalies in wins and be top three in starts this year.
3. Darcy Kuemper
Kuemper is ranked comically low in some pre-season rankings, but the ADP should balance out and have him ranked right about here. Not only was he already a top-tier goaltender when healthy, he now plays for arguably the best team, with the fewest chances and high-danger chances allowed last season. If he can stay healthy, Kuemper will be a Vezina finalist this season.
4. Connor Hellebuyck
Hellboy won the Vezina in 2019-20 but had a slight dip in production in last year’s 56-game season. Hellebuyck started more games than any other goaltender, and there were many games where he was hung out to dry. Winnipeg’s team defence got substantially better with the additions of Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon, and there’s no way the Central division can match the North division’s offensive output from last season. Hellebuyck will be back to his old self, and I’m confident Winnipeg will be a playoff team this year.
5. Igor Shesterkin
Shesterkin put up solid numbers in his rookie season, and was financially rewarded with a shocking four-year $22.6M contract. The Rangers made a few depth acquisitions but are mainly counting on getting healthy and their boatload of prospects to mature one more year. I do like the Rangers going into this season as tough as the Metro division will be, but Shesterkin should have a solid enough start volume.
6. Semyon Varlamov
I’ve seen Varlamov ranked higher, I mean, what’s not to love? He plays for one of the best coaches in the NHL that preaches one of the best defensive structures to play in. Much of the Islanders team will be back for next season, but unfortunately for Varlamov that includes Ilya Sorokin. Though he only started 21 games last season, I expect that Ilya Sorokin is the goalie of the future and will take a larger piece of the net this season. That being said, Varlamov is still good enough to be a 1G.
7. Marc-Andre Fleury
It baffles me that a future first-ballot hall of famer (and reigning Vezina winner to boot) was traded to Chicago for LITERALLY nothing. He’s turning 37 in November, but Flower still has it and then some. I don’t like Chicago as a playoff team, but Fleury will give them a legitimate chance to win every game. We can expect his SV% and GAA to fall somewhere between last season and the season prior, making him a fine 1G option. I don’t expect Kevin Lankinen to net more than 40% of the starts, making Fleury a very good pick in leagues where wins don’t matter as much. This has to be the lowest the reigning Vezina winner has ever been ranked going into a season.
8. Juuse Saros
Nashville dumped off Viktor Arvidsson to make room for Mikael Granlund’s new contract, then eventually flipped Ryan Ellis for Philippe Myers and Cody Glass. I can’t see this team being very good, but it’s a shame Saros was only 6th in Vezina voting last season after single-handedly carrying the Predators to playoffs. With David Rittich backing him up, Saros’ start volume should be top 5 in the entire league. If wins and/or goals against don’t matter, Saros is a good option.
9. Thatcher Demko
This is my “so crazy, it just might work” pick. I have been waiting for Demko to blossom for several years now, and was very happy with my decision to draft and stash him last season despite a shaky start. Given how ugly some of Vancouver’s games were, I am shocked to see Demko kept his GAA below three. I see OEL as a massive upgrade to Nate Schmidt and hope Olli Juolevi can blossom into a legitimate top four defenceman. The Canucks parted ways with their Braden Holtby experiment and picked up a very capable backup in Jaroslav Halak. This will eat away at Demko’s start volume, but he will no doubt be the #1. With the Pacific division being wide open as always, I can totally see Demko getting off to a hot start and Vancouver riding their home-grown goaltender back to the playoffs.
10. Frederik Andersen
Once deemed ‘the chosen one’ by Leafs faithful, Freddie finds himself on a new team and in a warmer climate. I couldn’t love this move more for him. I would imagine former teammate Jake Gardiner reached out during free agent talks and said “Freddie, you don’t understand. You can just play hockey here without someone slashing your tires and cyber bullying you every night!” Andersen will be able to step in – with a competent backup behind him in Antti Raanta – and play loose. His play will be top ten, but a number of head scratching moves were made by the Canes in front of him this off-season. I’m not sure if a combination of Tony “c’mon, give me a shot” DeAngelo and Jani Hakanpaa will replace Dougie Hamilton. That being said, I think Freddie will play well but the team in front of him won’t be as dominant as they seemed to be last season.
That's all for today! Again, feel free to chime in on the Discord about what you think of the rankings. Next up will be my top 20 defencemen!