Goaltending is the most volatile position in hockey. Goal scoring is at its highest point since the 2005-06 season and it begs the question: how high should we be drafting goalies?
How many goalies ranked within the top 100 have lived up to their draft value? Andrei Vasilevskiy, Frederik Andersen, Pekka Rinne, and John Gibson are some of the top netminders who have lived up to their draft value. If you drafted Braden Holtby, Sergei Bobrovsky, Connor Hellebuyck, and Martin Jones, you are probably wondering what’s going on with them.
Is the uptick in scoring to blame? Or are there reasons behind the scenes like new equipment changes and working with a new goaltending coach?
According to Hockey Reference, the power-play opportunities aren’t that much higher than in past years with the conversion rate being 20.58%. Last season, the power-play percentage was 20.18 and the year before that was 19.1. The last time the conversion rate was over 20% was during the 1989-90 season. Even though the power-play is running high, it’s only a few ticks higher and I can’t say that’s the only reason for the increase in goal scoring.
At the beginning of this season, we saw slight changes to the goaltending gear. Is the loss of a couple inches really affecting them? Is scoring up because of these slight changes? Earlier in the season, James Reimer, Brian Elliott, and Sergei Bobrovsky were among the goalies that were complaining about the new equipment. Some even were afraid of getting hit by pucks because it would leave bruises.
Bobrovsky’s struggles could also be pointed toward his goaltending coach leaving him. He had a great relationship with Ian Clark, who is now with the Vancouver Canucks. Has this change disrupted him so much? That might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s hard to ignore what Jacob Markstrom is doing right now.
Markstrom is looking really good right now after winning his past five games. Is Clark the reason behind this hot streak? If so he isn’t the only reason, but I’m sure he’s helping Markstrom be the number one goalie that Vancouver needs.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why some of the top goalies from last season aren’t having the same type of success. Wins are a by-product of team success as any goalie can run hot for a week.
When looking at a goalie, team success is important. A team’s power-play and penalty-kill percentages are good to know as well as the amount of high danger chances they allow. To go a little further we can look at a goalie’s even-strength and special teams save percentages to see where most of the goals are coming from.
Another reason could be the margin for error is small. Now more than ever we are seeing backup goalies playing and sharing some of the load. Mikko Koskinen, David Rittich, and Jaroslav Halak are three goalies that have stolen starts and you probably could have acquired them for free off the waiver wire.
Dependent on your league size and scoring settings you may choose to take a goalie in the second, third or fourth round. Don’t worry if you missed out on a good goalie because with backup goalies playing more you have a shot at a great goalie off the wire.
With the league moving to more offence, I won’t be using a top 50 pick on a goalie anymore, but I wouldn’t want to get stuck without goalie after the 100th pick. I’m not sure if this is going to start being like pitchers in baseball where a waiver wire goalie goes on to have a career season. All I know is a tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Casey DeSmith doesn’t sound too bad right about now.