In this article we are going to discuss the best strategies in picking out a goaltender for both your cash game lineups and your tournament play. We will use advanced National Hockey League team statistics to help us with our decisions.


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Cash Game Goalie Selection

Braden Holtby

Your goalie is often the backbone of your scoring in daily fantasy hockey, so understanding what factors go into making a good selection for a cash game goalie is important.

Goalies derive points from two areas, achieving a win on the night and from saves. Both are important factors to consider in your research but while win bonuses (+6 points) are finite, the points we can achieve from our save totals can vary wildly from game-to-game and lead to massive point-differentials on a slate at the position, even amongst the nights winning goalies.

The new DraftKings scoring awards 0.7 points for a save and also offers us a +5 point bonus if our goalie makes 35 or more saves on the night. Therefore, when targeting goalies, a good place to start core research is looking at simple numbers such as the recent save percentages of goalies on the slate and the shots on goal, per game, of the team they will be facing. As a general rule of thumb, goalies in good form going against teams with higher shot volumes should be favored.

From there we can also dig deeper, looking at both the rate of shots allowed by our goalie’s team but also looking at advanced stats such as quality chances. Ultimately, teams that average a high volume of shots on goal but produce a low amount of “high-danger chances” — and a high amount of “low quality” shots — are our favorite matchups.

Finally, while DraftKings scoring methodology emphasizes volumes of saves, in cash games we still want to give credence to goalies who are in good positions to achieve the win. Looking at betting lines and seeing which goalies are heavy or small favorites on the “puck-line” for the night’s slate should also be weighed when narrowing your targets.

Ultimately, we don’t mind paying up a goalie in prime position for a win, but don’t want to sacrifice salary space for a player who may be among the slate’s bottom producers in terms of saves. Balancing price along with save upside, and win probability, therefore becomes our main concern in this format of play.


GPP Goalie Selection

Craig Anderson

In GPPs, we are looking for the home-run play. We want a goalie who is not only capable of picking up a win — preferably at lower ownership — but is in a position to deliver us an abundance of saves in the process.

Since we’re emphasizing upside more in these formats — due to the top-heavy payouts — we don’t mind taking risks on goalies who are small favorites or even underdogs on the betting line for that night’s action. These goalies will often be solid targets in GPPs as they will simply have a better chance at seeing 35-plus shots against due to either their own teams overall weakness on defense or the offensive prowess of the team they are facing.

This sort of selection process for our GPP goalie brings more “bust potential” into our selection but we can counter-act this through a few research techniques. Emphasizing goalies who have solid recent form and who may be trending towards a big night by looking at their recent save percentage is a decent starting point. Goalies can be streaky throughout the year, so emphasizing only a small batch of recent games vs. their entire season-long stats — which may look poor—can be a decent way to find cheaper goalies with solid save potential.

Also, and as mentioned above, we still want to look at overall team stats so goalies with matchups against teams with higher-shot volumes should be valued more in this format. The difference in GPPs is that we will often not mind taking on more risk with goalies going against teams with quality offensive players who produce more high-danger chances, as goalies facing these teams often have cheaper salaries and will be more likely to have “low-ownership” in big field GPPs.

Goalie selection in GPPs can be tricky as we don’t want to sell the farm just to be contrarian, but at the same time we need to embrace the idea that taking on some risk is ultimately what can lead to our goalie becoming the hidden gem on the slate: one that offers us roster flexibility thanks to a cheap salary, yet still manages to achieve multiple DraftKings scoring bonuses on the night.


Pro Tip

The NHL season can be very long, so as the year goes on, instead of just looking at season long statistics we should also break it down by last month or last couple weeks, and see what teams are recently hot or cold. A team may rank near the bottom of the league overall, but could be one of the top offenses in the past month, so be careful not to overlook their recent play. Sure it is a lot of extra work, but it most certainly will pay off.