As a stupid goalie myself, I pay a little more attention to goaltenders as compared to other positions. While everyone in the world did a prediction on how the teams would finish, I'm going to make some more goaltending related predictions in grading each teams' goaltending. And with that brief intro, I figure we can start out West.
Grade Range - This will be the range of goaltending effectiveness possible. For example, a team with a young, talented goaltender who has a nobody for a backup would have a range of maybe D to A-, while a team with two veteran goalies who are solid, but not great, would probably get a B- to B+. Make sense?
Risk - How likely the grade will be at the low end as compared to the high end.
My Prediction of Grade - My guess of how the goaltending will be this season, from deep within my head. Remember though, I'm a goalie. I let people shoot pucks at me for a living. I'm clearly damaged goods.
Goaltenders: Mikka Kiprusoff, Henrik Karlsson.
Grade Range: C- to A
Notes: As Wings fans remember, Kiprusoff has consistently been one of the best in the league. While their backup is a nobody, Kipper has been fairly consistent over the years on good and bad teams. The only way I see goaltending as a problem for the Flames is if there is an injury, but the crazy Finn has been fairly durable at this point.
Goaltenders: Craig Anderson, Peter Budaj
Grade Range: C to A-
Notes: Anderson proved he was the real deal last season. He is a great goaltender, but still, I wouldn't put him as one the top few in the league. His skill set just isn't at that level. Budaj is a serviceable backup and can fill in if necessary.
Goaltenders: Nikolai Khabibulin, Jeff Deslauries, Devan Dubnyk
Grade Range: D- to A-
Notes: The drunk, cig smoking Russian is back and I believe he still has some of that talent we've seen in the past. If he can stay healthy and out of jail, the Oil should get solid goaltending. If not, which is no guarantee, the Oil are in trouble. Deslauries is talented, but has absolutely no consistancy in his game; he's a bad version of Marty Brodeur. These goalies also have the hardest to spell names in the league.
Goaltenders: Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Jose Theodore
Grade Range: B- to B+
Notes: Without the trap protecting him, Backstrom has transformed back into what he always was, a solid, if unspectacular goalie. He's flexible and quick, but doesn't have that domination button where he can take over. After Harding's yearly injury, Theodore is now the backup. He's fairly average, until he faces our Mule, then he turns into a scared little puppy and will let you score 19 goals or something in like four games.
Goaltenders: Some guy named Lou, Cory Schneider
Grade Range: C to A
Notes: Luongo is one of the most talented goaltenders to ever play. He's also one of the most overrated goaltenders as well. He has a problem at times where he fails to follow the puck into him and is sometimes too athletic for his own good. He also really sucks at playing against the Chicago Blackhawks. Schneider is a former AHL all-star with talent, but who knows if it will work for him in the show. Sort of a Jimmy Howard of last year. By the way, does anyone really think that Vancouver really is as good as everyone thinks they are? I don't.
I'll do another division later if you like these. Sort of an introduction to each team's netminders.