The Roundtable: Awards

Michael Finewax
Rotoworld
The Rotoworld Hockey writers look at the winners of the best fantasy forward, defenseman and goaltender

The Roundtable: Awards

The Rotoworld Hockey writers look at the winners of the best fantasy forward, defenseman and goaltender

This week’s question is:

Who wins the award for the best fantasy forward, defenseman and goaltender?

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Joey: Forward: Clearly, the fantasy award here has to go to Nikita Kucherov. He scored more points in 2018-19 than any Russian player has in any single season in NHL history. The Lightning have a number of offensive weapons, but none is better than Kucherov. He was consistent from start to finish and he also deserves to win the Hart Trophy in my mind. 

Defenseman: I realize that Brent Burns had more points than Mark Giordano, but the Flames defender has more penalty minutes and a way better plus/minus (he was plus-39 this season). The fact that Giordano saves his best year for his age-35 season is pretty remarkable too. He ended up finishing this campaign with an impressive 74 points in 78 contests. He's the leader of that talented Flames squad. 

Goalie: Sergei Bobrovsky finished the year with two fewer wins than Andrei Vasilevskiy, but the Blue Jackets netminder posted nine shutouts compared to Vasilevskiy's six. There were times when Bobrovsky struggled down the stretch, but he was a big reason why the Jackets eventually found a way to sneak into the playoffs. If they're going to cause an upset in the first round, it'll be because of their franchise netminder. 

Ryan: Forward: I don't think there's any arguing with Nikita Kucherov.  No player came close to his 128 points, but on top of that he also had a plus-24 rating and, if your league cares about it, 62 penalty minutes.

Defenseman: While I mentioned in a previous roundtable that I'd pick Mark Giordano over Brent Burns when it comes to the Norris Trophy, I would rather have Burns in a fantasy league.  It is true that Giordano bested Burns in terms of plus/minus and PIM, but Burns nine-point and 79-SOG edge are pretty important.  On top of that, Burns had 28 PPP to Giordano's 21.

Goalie: It feels a little weird to pick Carey Price over Andrei Vasilevskiy or Sergei Bobrovksy, but I'm going to suggest that Price ended up being the best goaltender from a fantasy perspective.  The driving force for that is playing time.  Price played in 66 games to Vasilevskiy's 53 and Bobrovsky's 62, so if you picked Price then you had the most opportunities to use him.  It's not just that though.  Price had 35 wins, a 2.49 GAA, and .918 save percentage, which compares favorably to Bobrovsky's 37 wins, 2.58 GAA, and .913 save percentage.  Vasilevskiy clearly bested Price with his 39 wins, 2.40 GAA, and .925 save percentage, but Price also had those extra 13 games worth of use, so that's why I would have rather had Price.  Going into next season, Price might be even better with the Habs likely to take a step forward in 2019-20.

Daniel: Forward: There is no way to even argue against Nikita Kucherov, as he was just absolutely ridiculous.

Defenseman: As far as defensemen, that's a bigger argument. Since this isn't a discussion for the Norris Trophy, but just best fantasy defenseman, I'll take Brent Burns over Mark Giordano. The latter plays much better defense, but Burns is the more gifted rearguard in terms of his offensive game. Plus, I like the fact he looks like a cross between the guy kept in the basement in Goonies and one of the dudes from ZZ Top.

Goaltender: As far as the top backstop is concerned, Andrei Vasilevskiy was amazing, and probably should win the fantasy award. And Carey Price was awesome, too. He nearly carried a young Habs team to a playoff spot in a year they were expected to do nothing. If you could combine the award, how about what Robin Lehner/Thomas Greiss did on Long Island (or is it in Long Island. Let's ask the Islanders twitter - lol) was amazing. And how about a little love for Darcy Kuemper, who came out of nowhere to emerge as a fantasy must-start off the waiver wire to tie Vasilevskiy in save percentage? But, the Tampa tendy checked off all of the boxes, as far as wins, GAA, save percentage, etc. He is the guy, but it's closer than you think.

Brian: I too believe Nikita Kucherov was the best fantasy forward this season for all the reasons stated earlier. However, I want to give Brad Marchand his due as well. The pesky winger registered 100 points, tied for fifth in NHL scoring, and was plus-15. However, it's his 96 penalty minutes that sets him apart from the pack.

On defense, I've been touting Mark Giordano all along, so I'm not going to stop now. In addition to all that has been said about the 35-year-old rearguard, he also scored four short-handed goals. That's truly unbelievable for a defenseman. The only other blueliner who had more than one shortie this season was Esa Lindell, with two.

In goal, I'm going to go in a different direction. If you are in a pool where the goalie categories are wins, save percentage and goals-against-average, why isn't Ben Bishop getting a little love. It is true that he was injured twice and only played in 46 games to Vasilevskiy's 53, but he had a league-best .934 SP, was second in GAA at 1.98, posted 27 cwins and registered seven shutouts. He bested Vasilevskiy in all but the wins category. 

Corey: I think Nikita Kucherov is pretty much unanimous as the best fantasy forward.  He was consistent all year, while playing in all 82 games.  The seasons that Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane had were special as well, but Kucherov still stands out.  
On the back end, it's Brent Burns for me.  300 shots and 83 points are numbers you would typically see from an elite forward.  Mark Giordano had a great year as well, but in terms of fantasy value there isn't much that separated him from Morgan Rielly or John Carlson.  Burns was on a different level, though.  
Between the pipes, I would go with Andrei Vasilevskiy, but I agree with Brian in that Ben Bishop deserves more recognition.  His numbers were excellent this season.  Robin Lehner and Jordan Binnington are worthy of honorable mentions as well for entering the upper echelon of goaltending options for the 2018-19 campaign.  

Michael: Nikita Kucherov was the best fantasy forward in leagues this season but if you played the penalty minutes category, then Brian is right in that Brad Marchand should get considerable consideration.

As far as defensemen are concerned, again it depends on the categories you played. Mark Giordano had a great season points-wise and his plus/minus was the best in the NHL at plus-39. Brent Burns had 83 points, nine better than Giordano and was sixth in shots on net with 300 (Giordano was 47th in the NHL at 221). I think if you played all the categories, Giordano was the best as he also had 69 penalty minutes to Burns’ 34.

In goal, I think Ben Bishop gets my vote. He wasn’t the best in wins with 27 which was tied for 13th in the NHL but his GAA of 1.98 and save percentage of .934 was second best and best in the NHL respectively. Vasilevskiy did have the most wins but his GAA was .42 goals-a-game more than the Stars goaltender. Jordan Binnington also deserves consideration.

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