The consensus No. 1 goalie off the board in every fantasy hockey draft should be Andrei Vasilevskiy. Selecting anybody else ahead of the league’s best goalie on the league’s best team is as foolish as it sounds.
But once the Tampa Bay Lightning star is off the board, I think there are two clear options as to who should be drafted after that.
The first one is Ben Bishop. Despite missing time last season with multiple lower-body injuries and an upper-body ailment, the Dallas Stars’ netminder topped the NHL in save percentage (.934) and finished second in goals-against average (1.98). If Bishop’s health can hold up in 2019-20, he’ll certainly surpass his 46 appearances from last year. Benefitting from head coach Jim Montgomery’s defence-first approach, the 6-foot-7 goalie should be able to churn out similar success this year.
Close after Bishop is Sergei Bobrovsky. Moving from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Florida Panthers this offseason could be a nice plus for the 31-year-old if the Panthers back up all of the hype they’ve received this summer. But there’s no question that the move brings with it a bit of a defensive downgrade. Leaving the Jackets’ strong blueline — headlined by Zach Werenski and Seth Jones — he joins a fairly average defensive grouping in Florida led by Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle and Anton Stralman. If new head coach Joel Quenneville can coach up this team and they meet their new, lofty expectations, then Bobrovsky could plausibly finish ahead of Bishop, though.
To me, Marc-Andre Fleury seems to be the distant third of this group. Although I’d love to have him on my fantasy hockey team, it wouldn’t be at the expense of passing up on any of the goalies listed above, or at his current Yahoo Fantasy ADP. The Vegas Golden Knights will be competitive again in the Pacific Division and Fleury will be a big part of their success, but I think last year’s numbers for the soon-to-be 35-year-old are his best-case scenario for this season. He logged a lofty 61 games and was good. He posted a save percentage of .914 and a goals-against-average of 2.51. Where the former first-overall pick really rewarded fantasy owners was with his eight shutouts — more than his combined total from the two seasons prior. Now, this is hypothetical, but if Vegas decides to preserve Fleury for the playoffs and pull back on his regular season starts, he could see some serious regression from his 2018-19 fantasy total. But as I said, I’d still feel good having Fleury on my team, although his ADP is a little too rich for my liking.
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