Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Training Camp Goalie Battles

Training Camp Goalie Battles

View photo

Ryan Dadoun takes a look at the key training camp goaltending battles in this week's instalment of In …

Drafting a goaltender in the first two rounds of a standard 12-team league is generally a good idea.  The best netminders go fast, and finding a relatively safe bet between the pipes in the mid-to-late rounds is far harder than collecting solid forwards or defensemen.

Still, your pre-draft plans don’t always play out and you’ll often find yourself adjusting on the fly.  In terms of goaltending, that means picking high-risk, high-reward guys--taking guys from teams that don’t have a firmly established starter in the hopes that the player you selected wins the battle.

These competitions will ultimately start during training camp and drag on into the regular season, so you’ll want to check in regularly to get the latest update on how they’re progressing. Here’s a preliminary look at some of the league’s biggest goaltending battles and our early predictions on how they’ll play out.

Anaheim Ducks: Jonas Hiller vs Viktor Fasth

Hiller’s rough start helped facilitate Fasth’s unlikely rise last season.  Fasth won his first eight NHL starts and never slowed down dramatically, but Hiller still ended up getting plenty of playing time in the second half of the season after he rebounded.

This is the final season of Hiller’s contract, so there’s naturally a lot at stake for him.  The free agent goaltending market typically isn’t a kind place unless you’re a star, so Hiller’s best bet at a lucrative long-term deal would be to firmly cement himself as the team’s starter.  While we aren’t calling for Fasth to regress significantly this season, we do think Hiller will be able to accomplish his goals while playing in over 50 games.

Calgary Flames: Karri Ramo vs Joey MacDonald…and maybe Reto Berra…and Miikka Kiprusoff?

Let’s make this easy: If you can avoid it, don’t draft a Calgary Flames goaltender. The Flames aren’t likely to be a good team and none of the guys listed above are likely to have particularly good 2013-14 campaigns.

That said, Calgary does have an eye towards the future and journeyman Joey MacDonald isn’t likely to fit into the Flames’ long-term plans.  He’s more of a stopgap measure, making the winner of the training camp battle between Karri Ramo, 27, and Reto Berra, 26 the likely starter. Berra has no NHL experience while Ramo is coming off several strong seasons in the KHL after struggling to establish himself with the Tampa Bay Lightning when he was still in his early 20s.

Between them, Ramo is likely to make the Flames’ roster while Berra adjusts to North American hockey in the minors.  From there, Ramo will probably push the 50-start mark this season. Unless Kiprusoff decides he won’t retire after all.  Then all bets are off.

Florida Panthers: Jacob Markstrom vs Scott Clemmensen

The Panthers are coming off of a rough 2013 campaign and that’s particularly true for Markstrom, who posted a 3.22 GAA and .901 save percentage in 23 games last season.  Those aren’t exactly the numbers you want from the goaltender you hope will start carrying the franchise sooner rather than later, but he is still a highly regarded prospect.

Markstrom is likely to be used frequently in 2013-14, but Clemmensen is a more than capable understudy and should step in whenever the 23-year-old is having a cold streak.  Unless Markstrom suffers a complete collapse, he should end up with close to twice as many starts as Clemmensen. Then again, it’s reasonable to expect struggles from a young goaltender on an iffy team.

New Jersey Devils: Cory Schneider vs Martin Brodeur

Putting their respective histories aside for the moment, Schneider is the better goaltender going into the 2013-14 campaign, and yet Brodeur is regarded as the starter.  That’s the awkward situation the Devils are in as they attempt to navigate through what will probably be the last season of Brodeur’s legendary career.

Unless the Devils are in the thick of a playoff run late into the season or Brodeur is horrendous, the two are likely to split the starts evenly throughout the season with Brodeur ending up with a handful more than his younger counterpart.  If you’re in a keeper league, grab Schneider early because beyond this season, he should be one of the league’s elites.  Just don’t pencil him in for much more than 30-40 starts in 2013-14.

Philadelphia Flyers: Steve Mason vs Ray Emery

After a fantastic season as the Chicago Blackhawks’ backup goaltender, Emery is looking to re-establish himself as a starting goaltender.  Meanwhile, this might be Mason’s last decent shot at a number one gig after years of struggling in Columbus.

Mason did enjoy a brief resurgence at the end of the 2013 campaign following his move to Philadelphia, leading some to wonder if all he really needed was a change of scenery.  Mason has given us hope many times before, though, only to fall apart again.  It seems overly optimistic to expect this time to be different.

Both will get a fair shot at the starting job, but Emery should be regarded as the favorite in this battle.  He likely won’t have a sub-2.00 GAA again, but a 2.25-2.5 GAA seems like a reasonable expectation.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury vs Tomas Vokoun

More than any other battle on this list, this one is perhaps the most unlikely to come to fruition. I ultimately brought it up because Fleury did lose the starting job during the 2013 playoffs and therefore some might be worried about his standing with the team.

The thing is, though, playoff struggles are nothing new for Fleury and while that’s cause for concern for Penguins fans, it hasn’t prevented him from putting up solid numbers in regular season contents.  Fleury is a full step behind the league’s elites, but he’s a safer bet to hold onto the starting job than some give him credit for.

At least for now.  Another disastrous playoff run could encourage the Penguins to go in a different direction in the summer of 2014.

St. Louis Blues: Brian Elliott vs Jaroslav Halak vs Jake Allen

This one is hard to predict for a number of reasons.  For starters, Allen had a solid run in the NHL last season and there’s an outside chance the Blues will begin the season with three goaltenders, which would significantly diminish Elliott and Halak’s fantasy value.

There’s also the enigma that is Elliott to consider. He can be anything from the worst in the NHL to almost unbeatable and he’ll flip between the two extremes.  If he gets hot early in the season, then at most, Halak will play in every other game, but if Mr. Hyde shows up, then Halak will run away with the netminding job.

The safest bet - if there is such a thing in this scenario - is Halak.  He was plagued by injuries last season, but he’s healthy now and highly motivated to bounce back going into his contract season.  If you’re going to roll the dice on a Blues goaltender, Halak should be your first choice.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Ben Bishop vs Anders Lindback

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been stockpiling promising young goaltenders in the hopes that one of them takes the reins.  Lindback had a rough debut with Tampa Bay, but he has a lot of promise and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if, at the age of 25, he took a major step forward. 

Still, Bishop probably has a slight edge after his stronger 2013 campaign. But given the Lightning’s questionable defense and the likelihood that Lindback and Bishop will split the Lightning’s starts pretty evenly for months before either one firmly establishes himself as the clear starter, it would be best to avoid drafting either goaltender whenever possible.

Washington Capitals: Braden Holtby vs Michal Neuvirth

Holtby has a clear edge in this battle after his strong 2012 playoff run, which was complemented by a generally positive 2013 campaign.  He played in 36 games last season to Neuvirth’s 13.

Still, people might be dismissing Neuvirth too quickly.  He’s just 25 and has had some solid showings in the NHL.  While Holtby should end up starting in the majority of Washington’s games, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Neuvirth bounce back and end up with over 30 starts this season.

Make sure you join a Yahoo! league to maximize your hockey pleasure!

Click here for the latest NHL player news, and follow @RyanDadoun and @Rotoworld_HK if you're on Twitter.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (18)

Recommended for You

  • Former CB Brian Baucham Sues USC and Lane Kiffin

    Former USC Trojans' cornerback Brian Baucham is suing the university and ex-coach Lane Kiffin, according to an Associated Press report. In the September 2012 game, Brian Baucham collapsed during the second half and was taken to the hospital by an ambulance. Baucham hadn't played in USC's previous…

    SB Nation
  • Mark Cuban made comments about the NFL six months ago and he was right

    Peter King of Sports Illustrated looks back at the comments from Maverick owner Mark Cuban about the future of the NFL. ESPN's Marc Stein has a great write up about the premiere of the Berlin Tall's new movie.

    SB Nation
  • Rumor Roundup (Sept. 23, 2014): Sting, Austin Aries, Cesaro and the future of the Bellas

    Speculating on the rumors surrounding pro wrestling is a favored pastime of many fans, perhaps second only to actually watching the matches. In this daily column, we take a look at the latest rumors being churned out by the pro wrestling rumor mill. None of this has been confirmed as legitimate…

    SB Nation
  • DeSean Jackson doesn't realize the Washington Redskins lost to the Eagles

    Apparently Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson did not realize his team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday. Yeah, Jackson scored, he taunted Eagles players and fans, and he got his 'revenge' on this play. Check the scoreboard, DeSean.

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Washington34 - 37Philadelphia
    Game Recap
  • View

    Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti faces the media (11 photos)

    All of the parties involved in the Ray Rice elevator-assault scandal are being called to account for their actions, or inactions, and the Baltimore Ravens, Rice's now-former team, are now in the spotlight. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti held a press conference

    Yahoo Sports
    Sun, Sep 21
    Baltimore23 - 21Cleveland
    Game Recap
  • Wayne Simmonds was ejected because his opponent was too slow

    Wayne Simmonds was kicked out of the third period against the Leafs on Monday night in the preseason opener. Korbinian Holzer of the Maple Leafs was really not alright with the above hit from Wayne Simmonds during the third period of the Flyers game against Toronto on Monday night. Simmonds gave…

    SB Nation
  • What's Your Definition of Success?

    Success means different things for different people, that’s why we’ve started “The Success Project”.

  • Report: Steelers signing James Harrison after losing Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones

    In order to bolster their linebacking depth, the Pittsburgh Steelers are signing former NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison. The Pittsburgh Steelers had a convincing 37-19 win over the Carolina Panther on Sunday, but it was costly. Jarvis Jones was placed on IR-Recall after suffering a…

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Tennessee7 - 33Cincinnati
    Game Recap
  • GIF: Brock Lesnar Curb Stomped by Seth Rollins at WWE Night of Champions 2014

    At some point or another it was decided that the finish to the Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena rematch at Night of Champions on Sept. 21, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee would feature a run-in from Seth Rollins. It was also decided that Lesnar, vulnerable thanks to Cena spamming finishers for the last 10…

    SB Nation
  • Gerald Wallace's contract is like a lottery ticket for the Boston Celtics

    Gerald Wallace was stoic last season. Wallace's three-year, $30.3 million contract was criticized by Celtics fans in a Bill Simmons piece published on Grantland. Eric in Springfield, Massachusetts: "Instead of a jersey number, could the Celtics convince Wallace to wear all the first-rounders we got…

    SB Nation
  • Darnell Dockett has tickets for Cardinals fan getting in a brawl with 49ers fans

    Sunday was kind of a wild day at the 49ers-Cardinals game. Aside from just the loss, 49ers and Cardinals fans got into a nasty brawl in the stands. It's a really nasty fight, with quite a bit of blood on the ground as the fight wrapped up. It seemed

    SB Nation
  • Undertaker rumors of poor health seemingly debunked by his wife, Michelle McCool

    Over the weekend, a weird rumor started making the rounds that Undertaker is in poor health or bad shape or whatever other term you want to use to signify someone is not doing well physically. The source for this was, apparently, Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst, who reportedly dedicated a song…

    SB Nation
  • Diamondbacks to name new GM Thursday

    The Diamondbacks' search for a new head honcho seems to be coming to an end. The Arizona Diamondbacks appear to be nearing a decision on who their new general manager will be, as USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the club plans to announce their choice on Thursday. Per Nightengale, former…

    SB Nation
    Tue, Sep 23
    5:10 PM PDT
    Arizona at Minnesota
    Preview Game
  • Asian Games 'Medal Ceremony Girls' join beauty battle

    North Korea has its "Army of Beauties", but the rival South is fighting back at the Asian Games with its "Medal Ceremony Girls". Many South Koreans were heartbroken when the rival North refused to send its renowned cheerleaders to the pan-Asian sporting event in Incheon, in a political wrangle. The…

  • Play

    LeBron & CP3 -- Train Together By Day ... Party Together By Night

    Work hard, play hard ... that's the way it was for LeBron James and Chris Paul Sunday -- who hit the gym together during the day and the CLUB together at night. LeBron and CP3 spent their Sunday training at the gym at UCLA with Bron's Cleveland Cavs teammate Tristan Thompson ... and even posted a…

  • Manning exposed: Seahawks win, Richard Sherman continues his season of subdued dominance

    Not nearly as easy as the Super Bowl, Seattle ended up just being a little better at defense than Denver was. Going into the Seattle Seahawks game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, we had a very convenient frame of reference as far as what we might expect to see. After all, no other two teams…

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Denver20 - 26Seattle
    Game Recap
  • Gareth Bale kicks the ball at Luka Modric's face

    You know what hurts more than seeing Gareth Bale and Luka Modric scoring amazing goals and winning trophies like we always hoped they would do for Tottenham Hotspur? Watching them turn on each other. GARETH BALE KICKED THE BALL AT LUKA MODRIC'S

    SB Nation
  • Blake Griffin wasn't surprised by Donald Sterling's racist rant

    When Donald Sterling's racism scandal grabbed national attention during the first round of the NBA playoffs last spring, it put the coaches and players of the Los Angeles Clippers in an awkward position. With Sterling disgraced and not yet banned from the league, the team itself was forced to…

    Ball Don't Lie