Thursday, September 22, 2011

30 in 30: Top NHL Fantasy Sleeper Picks - New York Islanders

It’s almost time for those annual fantasy hockey drafts. While most drafts feature the same players going in the first two rounds, it’s those players that you take in the mid-late rounds that will win you your league. Here’s the eighteenth of the thirty players that could be great sleeper picks in your draft this year.

Al Montoya – New York Islanders
Position – Goaltender
Height – 6’2”
Weight – 195
Drafted – 1st Round, 6th Overall, 2004 NHL Entry Draft
2010/2011 AHL Stats – 21GP, 11W, 8L, 0OTL, .891SV%, 3.19GAA
2010/2011 NHL Stats – 21GP, 9W, 5L, 5OTL, .921SV%, 2.39GAA

It’s got to be hard for goalies to be patient while waiting for their chance to play in the NHL. Unlike young forwards who tend to get fast tracked to the big leagues, some goalies will spend years playing in the minor’s just waiting for their shot. You would think that it’s probably not fun being a young goalie in the AHL for team’s like Vancouver, Buffalo, or Calgary because you know that their starters aren’t going anywhere. Even if there’s an injury there’s no guarantee that you’ll get to play when you get called up.

One of these goalies patiently waiting for his chance was Al Montoya. Originally drafted sixth overall by the Rangers in 2004 he was seen as the Rangers goalie of the future when Dan Blackburn suffered a career ending injury. Unfortunately for him there was another young goalie by the name of Henrik Lundqvist who was a seventh round pick in 2000 that would overtake him and become the number one goalie in New York.

After playing in the AHL for six years and for three different organizations, Montoya finally caught a break with the New York Islanders last season. The Islanders ended up using six different goalies last season after the injury bug and Brent Johnson’s fist hit their team hard. Montoya ended up playing in 21 games and ended the season with a .921 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA. His impressive play earned him a one year contract extension with the Islanders.

With the Islanders still holding the rights to Evgeni Nabokov it’s easy to think that the Islanders will start the season with three goalies. With DiPietro only appearing in 43 games the last four season’s he’s once again anything but a sure bet. There’s a good chance that Nabokov could be moved after refusing to report to the Islanders last year. This could leave Montoya with the bulk of the starts with an improved Islanders team. At the age of 26 this could be the time for Montoya to become a true number one goalie.   

Previous Sleeper Picks:
Day 1 - Anaheim Ducks
Day 2 - Boston Bruins
Day 3 - Buffalo Sabres
Day 4 - Calgary Flames
Day 5 - Carolina Hurricanes
Day 6 - Chicago Blackhawks
Day 7 - Colorado Avalanche
Day 8 - Columbus Blue Jackets
Day 9 - Dallas Stars
Day 10 - Detroit Red-Wings
Day 11 - Edmonton Oilers
Day 12 - Florida Panthers
Day 13 - Los Angeles Kings
Day 14 - Minnesota Wild
Day 15 - Montreal Canadiens
Day 16 - Nashville Predators
Day 17 - New Jersey Devils

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