The Hunt for (Accurately) Rating Goalies
Like all fantasy sports GMs I am always looking for an edge. Sometimes it comes from understanding the rules and scoring of your pool better than others. Perhaps it can be found in knowing when you can wait one more round for the player you want. The most popular, and perhaps celebrated way, is through targeting and grabbing that player you wanted, either in the draft or via trade, just to see them explode they way you envisioned.
For me the hardest players to predict are goaltenders. These enigmatic beasts have been the bane of my existence for years. For example, they can land huge contracts and just not show up. They can be anointed starter and lose their role months into a season. Injuries can derail careers and the wrong system can destroy a player.
Now all of this can be said for each position in fantasy hockey. The difference is, with goalies, it is an all or nothing situation. A goalie either starts and gets you points, or doesn’t start and leaves you empty handed. There are no second assists for goalies in fantasy hockey.
This problem has led me to develop a stat to help evaluate goalies against each other, I haven’t named it yet, so let’s call it Role Score. It helps in predicting the impact teammates and coaching has on a goalie, the role a goalie plays in his own success as well as the likelihood for repeat success. I like to apply it when young goalies are moved up into a full time starting role or for older goalies changing teams.
The formula for Role Score is simple. You take the number of games played and multiply it by the goalie’s save percentage. This rewards the number of saves made as well as the number of games the goalie has played. The smaller the sample size the smaller the reward. Then I divide it by the goals against average. This helps even out the defensive support a goalie gets from his team or coaching system. If a goalie has changed teams I will occasionally compare the first set of data against a second set replacing his own goals against average with that of his new team GAA.
Before we get into the findings let’s take a look at how deciding the statistic “save percentage” can be for fantasy owners. Here are the Top 20 All Time Playoff leaders for SV% in the NHL.
As you can see there are a few misleading factors on this list. Kolzig for example has the 2nd best SV% of all time. I highly doubt he would ever be considered a top level fantasy goalie by anyone. Ron Tugnutt is also in the Top 10 despite having a losing record. Now lets see how they rank using the Role Score.
If you were a fantasy GM during a time when these goalies were available which ranking is closer in your mind to how they actually performed year to year? I have actually prorated this against a full playoff season which can be used to see how they compare year to year against today’s starters. However, this will be featured closer to the playoffs.
In the meantime, here is this year’s top ten goalies (more than 20 Games Played) as ranked by Role Score.
How does that line-up to your rankings? Do you like or hate the stat? Do you have a better name for it? Leave it in the comments section?