Sunday, September 04, 2005

Starting Goalies - Part 2

Well, in lieu of something better to do tonight... I will continue with my overview of the possible starting goalies for your pool consideration.

Right now, if you ask me... I would have to flip a coin to decide which of the two experienced goaltenders Detroit would start the season with. Chris Osgood makes his return to the Motor City this season, while Manny Legace hopes to keep the faithful behind him come the start of training camp. Osgood had more wins and more games played in '03/'04, but Legace's success rate was a touch better. This is a great reason to not have your pool draft until the last week or two before the season starts, because you'd hate to get caught picking the bench warmer. This should be a good race.

Edmonton could use Detroits problems in goal. Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen are, thus far, career back-up goalies. With the signings of Pronger & Peca and the ongoing problems with Smyth, the Oilers haven't really kept their eye on the puck. They still have holes to fill and I believe they start in goal. If Conklin or Markkanen want to earn that starting job, then all the power to 'em... but with this much doubt going into camp, I would expect that the Oil will be shopping a little more once Ryan Smyth has put pen to paper.

With locking up Roberto Luongo, the number one spot is pretty much a given. For how long? I have no idea. I have a feeling that Luongo will move during the season... a typical relationship between himself and Mike Keenan has started to develop and it's not rocket science to figure out where it'll end up. Nevertheless, Luongo is going to want to put a good show on before the Olympics to get a job with Team Canada, so it should be interesting to see what kind of numbers Luongo puts up this year. I have him rated as a 2nd round pick in the pool draft... a low 2nd rounder. I think there will be better goalies and skaters available for you to pick before him.

The Kings are looking to go ahead with Mathieu Garon... ex-Canadien goalie who's come a long ways in the last couple years, squeezed out of the Habs system and into Tinsel Town. Garon has mostly been known as a backup goalie, but it was hard to get ahead of Theodore... but now in LA, he's gonna be the guy to lead a rebuilt Kings team to a potentially good season. The Kings have added some older names and some of their younger legs have gotten a bit stronger. Garon looks to be a decent sleeper pick for those looking to get ahead late in the draft.

No changes in Minnesota's crease coming into this season. Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez will battle it out again for the Wild's starting job, just like the couple seasons before it. Roloson got the majority of games in '03/'04, but it was a small majority. It's a pretty big split in games played for the two keepers and it's hard to say who may get the starts this season. Coach Jacques Lemaire will more than likely ride the hot hand for however long at most points in the season. The Wild may be a team to consider if you've filled out all your scoring positions earlier in the draft, all things being equal, of course.

The 3-year signing of Jose Theodore will keep their favourite starting goalie happy in the nets for a while. Theodore is good for 55+ starts during the season, upwards of 67 games, which he's done twice in the last 3 seasons. That's a pretty good turn-out for the keeper who will just turn 30 in the next couple weeks. Theodore is coming into his prime and the Habs are still trying to piece together a winning combination up front. Theodore will be good enough to steal a few games for the Habs, but if they don't get more scoring soon, Jose will be asked to do a lot more than what he may be capable of. Anywhere between late 1st and 2nd round should be adequate for Theodore to be picked.

I don't know why, but when people are mentioning solid, reliable goaltending... Tomas Vokoun doesn't come to mind for a lot of people. An NHL All-Star, 70+ game starter, 30 game winner (once)... I don't know, I think he's really flying under the radar in the NHL. The Predators can certainly build outwards when it comes to their team and they're trying. The addition of Paul Kariya to a team with Hartnell, Legwand and Sullivan isn't going to play terribly in most games. The Predators could be the big team this year... a la the Buffalo Sabres when they had their Cup run in the 90's. Hard workers all over the depth chart could bring a few more wins here and there. Hint, hint... nudge, nudge.

Well, if you've been here before, you'd know that the safest pick in the draft is the starting goalie for New Jersey. Martin Brodeur is really all you need to know when it comes to the first pick overall... look at me, I'm gushing. No, seriously... Brodeur is generally the safest guy in the pool, lots of starts, lots of wins, good enough to shut the opposition out. With no backup goaltender signed as of yet for the Devils, (jokingly) Marty is gonna see a lot of action this year. He should be able to take the top spot in pool points again this season if he gets 70+ starts again this year... not to mention his Olympic starts. I hope he is rested from the lockout!

The Islanders are the only team to not have their potential number one goalie signed as of yet. Rick DiPietro, the first goaltender to go first overall in the Entry Draft, is still a Restricted Free Agent. DiPietro will be looked towards to backstop a facelifted Long Island squad that should pack a little more punch than in previous years. Milbury will look to his young prized possession to prove him right this year and start him roughly 60 or more times if possible. I like the look of that Islander team and DiPietro quite possibly could be a great 2nd round pick. You may want to look at him closely.

In goal for the Rangers to start the season looks like Kevin Weekes. Weekes was a long-time Hurricane, starting on and off and will take the reigns full-time on Broadway. He'll look to guide young keepers like Al Montoya and Henrik Lundqvist to bigger and better things. Look for Weekes to get all the starts in behind a wholesale change from the big spending Rangers we all came to loathe. Depth for the Rangers may make a decent team, but even the strength of Jagr doesn't win games (which was apparent in Washington), so I wouldn't be pinning too many big wins to the Rangers, yet.

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