Fantasy NHL: Western Conference goaltenders

Roberto Luongo, Devan Dubnyk, Ondrej Pavelec and Corey Crawford.
August 22, 2013, 10:49 PM

Yesterday, as a late-summer refresher course for the benefit of fantasy hockey owners and just NHL fans in general, we went over the goaltending scenarios for each of the teams in the Eastern Conference. Starters and back-ups were included, along with their contract status.

Today we’ll do the West.

With realignment, the Western Conference now just features the Central and Pacific divisions. In the Central there are the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild. The Pacific features the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks.

And in case you missed the info yesterday, look for the annual fantasy rankings to be released a few weeks before the season begins in October.

CENTRAL DIVISION

The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will once again be led by Corey Crawford in net. The 28-year-old is entering the final year of his second NHL contract, which is a three-year pact paying him a total of $8 million. With Ray Emery having signed in Philadelphia, 40-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin took the opportunity to return to the Windy City on a one-year, $2 million contract. The veteran should be a steal of a deal as a spot-starter in fantasy leagues on this powerful squad.

Kari Lehtonen’s five-year, $29.5 million extension, which was signed last September, kicks in this fall. With a different coach in Lindy Ruff, a new general manager in Jim Nill and several changes on the roster, this franchise should be in line for a positive momentum swing. It’ll be 33-year-old veteran Dan Ellis backing up Lehtonen, 29, thanks to a two-year, $1.8 million contract signed when free agency opened in July.

Semyon Varlamov should stand to benefit from the invaluable wisdom of incoming bench boss Patrick Roy and goaltending guru Francois Allaire. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for the 25-year-old Russian, who is entering the final year of his three-year, $8.5 million contract. 36-year-old mentor Jean-Sebastien Giguere signed on for another season with the Avs at $1.5 million, which is a small bump up from his previous cap hit.

28-year-old Jaroslav Halak is set to play the last season of his four-year, $15 million deal, while Brian Elliott, 28, is on the back end of his two-year, $3.6 million arrangement. Jake Allen, who teased Blues fans with a taste of what’s to come from the talented 23-year-old, also signed a two-year extension with the club. The catch there is that the first year of Allen’s deal is two-way, while the second year is one-way. The cap hit is only $800,000 though. Regardless of whether or not a trade materializes involving Halak or Elliott between now and the trade deadline, Allen will be one of the two Blues’ netminders in 2014-15.

Pekka Rinne, 30, will begin the second year of his gargantuan seven-year, $49 million contract. His deal features even sevens across the board for annual salary and his cap hit. The back-up position in Nashville is still open-ended, with Predators general manager David Poile potentially wanting to look past Carter Hutton, 27, and Magnus Hellberg, 22, for the time being to find an established veteran who can provide Rinne with some rest occasionally.

The Winnipeg Jets will be counting on more consistency from starter Ondrej Pavelec, who will be celebrating his 26th birthday at the end of the month. This will be the second season of his five-year, $19.5 million pact, which carries a cap hit of just under $4 million. 28-year-old Al Montoya re-upped with the club for another campaign for the same $601,000 he’s made for the past several seasons.

35-year-old Niklas Backstrom was happy where he was with the Minnesota Wild, so he signed on for another three years for $10.25 million. Considering his last contract came with a $6 million hit, the drop down to an average of a little over $3.4 per season represents some big savings for his club at a time when they really needed it. Josh Harding is going into the second year of his three-year, $5.7 million deal.

PACIFIC DIVISION

Assuming 36-year-old Miikka Kiprusoff is, in fact, retired from the NHL, the Calgary Flames currently have Karri Ramo, 27, and Joey MacDonald, 33, slotted as their two goalies. Ramo, who spent the past three seasons in the KHL and now seems seasoned enough to start in North America, agreed to a two-year deal worth a total of $5.5 million, while MacDonald was extended for one year at $925,000.

Devan Dubnyk rewarded the Oilers’ faith in him by earning every dollar in the first half of his two-year, $7 million contract in 2012-13. If the 27-year-old can be a key piece of what should be Edmonton’s next step of progress in Dallas Eakins’ first season as head coach, then Dubnyk should find himself with another multi-year extension before campaign’s end. Jason Labarbera, 33, was brought in on a one-year, $1 million deal to back up.

This will be the first season of Jonathan Quick’s 10-year, $58 million extension and he’ll surely see a noticeable improvement in his stats now that the 27-year-old will be fully healthy when the season begins. With Jonathan Bernier granted his request for the freedom to compete for a No. 1 gig, it’ll be Ben Scrivens, 26, who can help poolies round out their weekly start totals entrenched in a friendly Darryl Sutter defensive system.

In terms of getting the most bang for your buck, the San Jose Sharks are certainly getting their money’s worth from Antti Niemi. The goaltender, who will turn 30 August 29, is headed into the third year of a four-year pact which averages out to only $3.8 million a season. The extension he’ll likely be offered next summer should see a sizeable increase in salary. Alex Stalock, 26, and Harri Sateri, 23, have one-year, two-way deals as potential backups.

Everything that could be written about the Roberto Luongo situation in Vancouver has been written dozens of times over already, so let’s just stick with the facts. The 34-year-old is now the unquestioned starter on the Canucks again and this will mark beginning of the fourth season of his 12-year, $64 million contract. Eddie Lack, 25, is armed with a two-year deal where the first campaign features a two-way clause and the second is strictly a one-way contract.

Mike Smith had the chance to leave Phoenix via free agency this summer, but the 31-year-old didn’t think the grass was any greener elsewhere and opted for a six-year, $34 million contract with the Coyotes. Thomas Greiss left the Sharks to sign a one-year deal worth $750,000, which marks a bump up of $162,500 over his last deal.

This will be the final season of Jonas Hiller’s four-year, $18 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks, which pays the 31-year-old netminder an even $4.5 million per season. 31-year-old Viktor Fasth, who had signed a one-year, one-way, $1 million deal to venture over from Sweden, was quickly inked to a two-year, $5.8 million extension that will kick in this season. If Fasth’s success continues early on, that will only serve to fuel the Hiller trade rumours.

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