The toughest position to assess in Fantasy hockey is undoubtedly the goaltenders. There are very few goalies you can rely on a year-to-year basis, so picking a first-tier goaltender is super important, as most pools will use two goalies and dedicate 25-40 percent of categories to the position. With that in mind, let's break down this year's crop of goaltenders into tiers.
Tier 1 - The Elite
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Igor Shesterkin
Vasilevskiy has been in the top tier for the last five seasons and is the most reliable goaltender in the NHL as far as Fantasy is concerned. The fact that he plays for a top team in the Lightning assures him of plenty of wins, and he's continued to shine in GAA and save percentage, although his figures in those categories dropped last season to 2.49 and .916 from 2.21 and .925 in 2020-21. Shesterkin joins the first tier for the first time -- he was outstanding in 2021-22. He topped the talk for the Hart Trophy until he hit a slump in the second week of March that lasted into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he ultimately turned it around. Still, his play in the first 60 games of the season was exceptional, so he still managed to finish third in the Hart race while winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie. Shesterkin ended the season with a 36-13-4 mark to go with a 2.07 GAA and a .935 save percentage. Both netminders should be drafted within the top seven to eight picks in the opening round of Fantasy drafts.
Tier 2 - Vezina Contenders
Frederik Andersen, Ilya Sorokin, Juuse Saros, Jacob Markstrom, Jack Campbell, Jake Oettinger, Thatcher Demko
Every goalkeeper in the second tier is worth taking in rounds 2-4. Sorokin could be the best of the bunch if the Islanders turn it around with their new coach, as his GAA and save percentage were outstanding last season, but his lack of wins (26) moved him down a tier. Andersen was terrific in his first season with the Hurricanes, going 35-14-3 with a 2.17 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Edmonton will hope for the same after signing him in free agency this summer. Campbell was great for the first half of 2021-22, but he slumped in the second half of the season. Nonetheless, the Oilers went all in during free agency and are expecting Campbell to be a top-ten goaltender in 2022-23. Saros has quickly made Nashville fans forget about the great Pekka Rinne, and Markstrom led the NHL in shutouts last season with nine, two more than Sorokin. Oettinger is one of the NHL's top up-and-coming goaltenders. Demko will play a lot of games with the Canucks and get plenty of wins, but his GAA might be average.
Tier 3 - The Veterans (and others)
Marc-Andre Fleury, Sergei Bobrovsky, Connor Hellebuyck, Tristan Jarry, Darcy Kuemper, Alexandar Georgiev
The veterans that top the third tier are likely on the downside of their careers. Fleury is starting the season with his third team in three years and while he has played well, he'll be 38 by the time the season is two months old. Fleury was better with the Wild after his trade from the Blackhawks at the deadline last year, going 9-2-0. Bobrovsky returned to form last season after two mediocre campaigns with Florida, but he's being chased by Spencer Knight, the Panthers goalie of the future, and could see his starts decrease substantially in 2022-23. Hellebuyck was part of the top tier last season with Vasilevskiy but he's fallen since. If he can return to form, he'd jump into the second tier, but Winnipeg isn't a great team and Helley's win total will likely be suppressed. Jarry starred for the Penguins last season and received some Vezina consideration. At age 27, he's in the prime of his career, but 2021-22 was really the first good season Jarry had. Kuemper moves from the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche to the Capitals. Kuemper had a great season with the Avs last year, going 37-12-4 with a 2.54 GAA and a .921 save percentage, but he'll be hard-pressed to come close to that mark with Washington. Georgiev is the wild card here as he moves from being a backup with the Rangers to a No. 1 role with Colorado. If he plays well, Georgiev will be a steal if you select him after the fourth round.
Tier 4 - Goaltending Battles
Ilya Samsonov, Matt Murray, Jeremy Swayman, Linus Ullmark
This is undoubtedly the most interesting tier as the Maple Leafs and the Bruins are both top-seven teams, but they haven't decided which netminder should serve as their No. 1. I'm leaning toward Samsonov and Swayman. and both will go earlier in drafts, but Murray and Ullmark are more than capable of starting and becoming big Fantasy assets. You'll be taking a chance with any of these goalies if you select them early on, but the risk/reward could be worth it.
Tier 5 - The Next Best
Elvis Merzlikins, Jonathan Quick, Jordan Binnington, Logan Thompson, Ville Husso, James Reimer, John Gibson
Merzlikins will be the starter in Columbus with the improved Blue Jackets -- he could have a career year. Quick rebounded last season to regain the starter's net in Los Angeles after three miserable years, but at age 36, he shouldn't be expected to repeat, although the Kings are an up-and-coming team. Binnington is still living off winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, and while he won 30 games the following season, he's only registered 18 wins in each of the last two years. Thompson will likely get the first crack at starting in Vegas with Robin Lehner out for the year, and he could move up the ranks if the Golden Knights return to glory. Husso was outstanding with St. Louis last season, but Detroit is still a team that isn't ready to make the playoffs, and that will likely hurt his stats. Reimer will start for a San Jose team that will struggle to make the playoffs. Gibson has struggled the last couple seasons, but the Ducks could surprise, especially if Gibson regains his mojo.
Tier 6 - The Rebounders and Spencer Knight
Carter Hart, Vitek Vanecek, Cam Talbot, Philipp Grubauer, Jake Allen, Spencer Knight
Hart will look to bounce back after a couple of poor seasons with a lackluster Philadelphia team. Vanecek moves from Washington to New Jersey where he should start over the oft-injured Mackenzie Blackwood. Talbot moves from Minnesota to an Ottawa team that could surprise many. Grubauer was a star in Colorado in 2020-21 but was a dud in Seattle in their first season in the NHL. Allen could jump out of this tier as Montreal played a lot better under Martin St. Louis, who will get the team for the entire year. Knight is tough to place in any tier as he is the Panthers' goalie of the future, but for now he still has the '$10 million man' Bobrovsky ahead of him. I think Knight will be the starter by Christmas, but he may not play enough to be worth a high pick.
Tier 7 - Only Worth Drafting in Deep Pools
Karel Vejmelka, Craig Anderson, Kevin Lankinen
While Anderson plays for Buffalo, he could be a lot better this season. He's 41 and not expected to carry a big load as far as games played are concerned. Vejmelka and Lankinen will start for Arizona and Chicago respectively, and both teams are looking to tank to try and get the first overall pick. The remaining goalies not mentioned here should be backups and worthy of selection only in the deepest of pools.