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2011-12 Fantasy Goaltender Review

By Steve Schwarz,Fantasy Sports Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - While the NHL playoffs are in full swing, the fantasy season has come and gone, so it's time to look back at how our rosters performed.

Today we evaluate the goaltenders, the backbone to any team, and four category contributors. To win your fantasy league, you must have more than one top-tier goaltender. Two at a minimum and three is usually preferred to take home the trophy. But to get that kind of depth, you have to find a few diamonds in the rough.

Below is our Top 10 fantasy goaltenders:

10) Kari Lehtonen, Dallas - For the fourth consecutive season, Lehtonen has improved his statistics and this season earned him a spot in the Top 10 among fantasy goaltenders. A 32-22-4 record along with a 2.33 GAA (goals against average) and a .922 save percentage were all career bests since becoming a full-time starter in 2005-06. A nice bargain from an eighth-round draft choice (Yahoo ADP 85).

9) Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary - After a bit of a stumble, Kiprusoff returned to a high level of performance in 2011-12. A 35-22-11 record with a 2.35 GAA and a .921 save percentage were in line with his production from 2003-06. He finished strong, going 13-5-8 after Feb. 1.

8) Tim Thomas, Boston - Thomas didn't have a bad season, it's just that so much more was expected of him after his 2010-11 season in which he led the league with a 2.00 GAA, a .938 save percentage and a Stanley Cup championship. His statistics: 35-19-1, 2.36 GAA, .920 save percentage, five shutouts are good, just below what was expected of the No. 25 overall pick.

7) Pekka Rinne, Nashville - Rinne was a workhorse this season, leading the league in games played (73) and wins (43). He likely would have finished higher, but tired down the stretch going 7-5-1 in March with a 2.88 GAA and a .902 save percentage.

6) Jimmy Howard, Detroit - Howard has been consistently good over the past three seasons, winning 37, 37 and 35 games during that span. Despite two fewer wins, this might have been his best season with a 2.12 GAA, .920 save percentage and six shutouts.

5) Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis - The combination of Halak and Brian Elliott (see below) was the best one-two punch in the league. Just look at the numbers - 49 wins, a league-low 165 goals allowed, a combined .932 save percentage and 15 shutouts. Halak played more games, but Elliott had the better numbers. Still it's hard to separate the two goaltenders.

4) Brian Elliott, St. Louis - Elliott played in just 38 games, but won 23 of them, nine by shutout. His .940 save percentage was the highest of any goaltender who played more than two games between the pipes. With a preseason Yahoo ADP of 250, Elliott's performance wins him the "TSN Best Bargain Award."

3) Mike Smith, Phoenix - Fantasy owners didn't have huge expectations for the Coyotes netminder, who entered the 2011 season with a career high of 15 wins in a season. For that reason, he was the 28th goaltender selected on Draft Day (Yahoo No. 151). But Smith was one of the season's best bargains, posting 38 wins, a 2.21 GAA, a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts.

2) Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers - Lundqvist had a great year, but that was expected. He was the first goaltender off the board (Yahoo No. 8 overall) and he gave you everything you expected from the high selection with 39 wins, a 1.97 GAA and a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts. It was close, very close, but we gave the edge to the "other guy."

1) Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles - Quick was a solid performer in 2010-11, but the jump in production in 2011-12 was extraordinary. The Kings backstop won 35 games while pitching a league- and career-high 10 shutouts. The 10 shutouts helped him post personal bests in GAA (1.95) and save percentage (.929). As the 12th goaltender off the board last fall, Quick wins our fantasy goaltending MVP.

05/02 15:32:54 ET


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