Are you as tired as I am of waiting for the start of the NHL season? Yeah, I figured you were. Anyhow, to pass the time, let’s take a look at some of the unresolved goalie situations in the NHL. It seems like there are usually more to start the season, but the goalie hot seats tend to come fast and furious as the season begins so there’s bound to be more. Look for updates on these goalie stories and much more on the FHS Crease Conflicts page (update coming soon).
If Jonas Hiller never had bouts with vertigo last year, I wouldn’t be able to bring up the Ducks. When Hiller was healthy, he was great. Seeing a ton of shots and winning a ton of games while posting admirable percentages. We hear that he’s been practicing and the vertigo is gone but how much can you trust that? Will it be one slapper off the mask and back to the IR? I want to see him play in some pre-season games with no effects and I’ll feel a lot better. Even still, there’s every chance that if he IS healthy, they will try to significantly reduce his workload by playing Dan Ellis up to 30 games or more. This is the ultimate high risk high reward situation in the goalie department. It is also just the type of risk that could help you win your league. I'd go with Hiller as a late to mid-round pick and keep my fingers crossed.
One could argue that the obvious #1 here is the guy who won the Conn Smythe and also led the league in GAA and Save %. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Tim Thomas was absolutely sensational last season. No one can take that away from him. The fact is that he has a number of reasons to doubt him for the coming season. He is 37 and played a hell of a lot of hockey last season. His "backup", Tuukka Rask would be a #1 fantasy goalie on any other team. And maybe take this last point with a grain of salt, but the last time he was coming off a great season, he followed up with a clunker. Will history repeat itself? Tough to say, but unless Thomas really fell to the middle rounds in a draft, I would not touch him. This could end up being a dead even split and that’s worse case scenario for fantasy players.
Any Oiler fan will tell you that Devan Dubnyk should be the starter. He went 12-13-8 for a horrible team. His .916 save % and 2.71 GAA were not too shabby. Unfortunately, Nikolai Khabibulin is signed through this season and next at $3.75 million. He’s going to play, even if there’s a time share. The best case scenario for Dubnyk backers is a Khabibulin injury, and that’s not exactly a one in a million chance. I like Dubnyk here, but drafting him is going to come with plenty of frustration. Buyer beware.
After 4 seasons of consistent play from Tomas Vokoun, this new look team has a new (or old) starter. Jose Theodore (or Jose "Three or More") will be on the ice for game 1 of the Florida Panthers season. I want to say that it’s a lock for him to lose his job. He’s essentially always had terrible percentages, outside of one or two stellar seasons he had for the Canadiens. Scott Clemmensen will be the Panthers starter for long stretches of the 2011-2012 season. You can bet on it. Clemmer will be in your Free Agent pool most likely, so make sure you're ready to make the pickup as soon as Theodore falters.
Talk about a mess. Al Montoya did real well for the Islanders last season but he will be competing with Mr. 15-year contract, Rick DiPietro and former NHL superstar, Evgeni Nabokov to make the team. That’s some stiff competition for a career minor leaguer in Montoya. Throw in the fact that 21-year-old prospect, Kevin Poulin, played great last year when given the shot on the Island and at
Mike Smith will supposedly be the starter here, but what will they do when he gets pulled in consecutive games after yielding 3 goals in the opening period? Jason LaBarbera has been an admirable backup during his career. Does he have what it takes to shoulder the load? Doubtful. Curtis McElhinney is another option, albeit a bad one. It’s obvious that Smith seems like the best option, but he’s been handed the reins before and failed miserably. Beware if you’re drafting him as a regular start.