Nebraska Football: Three Takeaways from the Firing of Shawn Eichorst | The Double Extra Point

It’s time to get rolling with my fantasy hockey rankings.  Instead of starting with my top 10 and going from there, I’m going to be starting with goaltenders today, defensemen Tuesday, and then forwards and my top 200 by the end of the week.  I will be ranking the guys in order, but I am putting more focus on tiers than the exact rankings of players.  I will be writing in detail about guys that I aggressive with in my rankings, either because I like them a lot or also don’t want anything to do with them.  As a reminder, I will never take a goalie in the first two rounds of a draft.  It simply puts you in too much of a hole offensively, and in general, variance rules the day for goaltending.  That’s going to be the case even more so this season when they’re only playing 56 games.  Let’s get to it!

TIER ONE: THE CREAM OF THE CROP

1) Andrei Vasilevskiy

2) Robin Lehner

3) Carter Hart

4) Connor Hellebuyck

5) Tuukka Rask

Vasilevskiy being ranked one is trivial and needs no explanation at this point.  I’m all in on Lehner this year.  He’s had a .920 or better save percentage in four of the past five seasons, and now he gets to play on an elite team that should pile up wins.  It’s hard to see Lehner finishing outside of the top 10 goalies and there’s a relatively easy path to be #1.  Hart was excellent last season after a brutal October.  The division is going to be a bloodbath, but I have faith in the Flyers defensively and Hart was incredible in division games last season (1.92/.934).  I’m a little worried about Hellebuyck because of the Jets defense, along with the fact that there are some high scoring teams in the Canadian division.  However, Hellboy is simply too good to have outside the first tier, especially because there’s a good chance he makes the most starts in the league.  At first, I had Rask in tier two because the volume is generally low for a #1 goalie.  Ultimately, I decided that his floor is so high (arguably the highest in the league) so he had to be in tier one.  Additionally, a shorter season could potentially lead to Rask getting a higher percentage of starts than usual.

TIER TWO: LIKELY NUMBER ONE GOALIE

6) Jordan Binnington 

7) Philipp Grubauer

8) Igor Shesterkin

9) Frederik Andersen

All of these goalies but Igor are on elite teams giving you a massive edge in wins.  Yes, Binnington fell off a bit last season, but he still won 60% of his starts with okay percentages.  With 21 games against California teams plus another seven against the offensively-inept Coyotes, the Blues should improve their defensive numbers from last season back to the level of the second half of 2018-19.  That’s not even mentioning Dallas who could be in trouble offensively this year. Grubauer is in the exact same boat as Binnington schedule wise.  Andersen’s goals against average is too high to have him ahead of the other guys but Toronto is the favorite in the North for a reason.  I think we see Andersen bounce back to his 2017-19 level where his save percentage was in the .918 range.  That leaves Shesterkin, who was excellent in his twelve games last year.  He’s clearly the riskiest guy in this group, but the upside can’t be denied.  If the Rangers can improve even a little bit defensively, Igor should have an elite save percentage.

TIER THREE: WORTH STARTING IN ALMOST EVERY MATCHUP

10) Anton Khudobin

11) Jacob Markstrom

12) Darcy Kuemper

13) Tristan Jarry

14) Semyon Varlamov

15) Sergei Bobrovsky

16) Ilya Samsonov

17) Juuse Saros

18) Carey Price

I was tempted to put Khudobin in the second tier because Ben Bishop is out until at least April.  The problem is that Khudobin has never started more than 37 games in a season, and given that he’s 34, I’m not sure how well he’s going to hold up over a condensed season.  He’s been outstanding in his two seasons in Dallas, but ultimately, I couldn’t see myself drafting Khudobin over anyone in the second tier so I put him at the top of the third.  Markstrom had the best season of his career last year and now finds himself in Calgary.  Calgary has four young defensemen that should be in their starting lineup which brings some variance in terms of the defensive play in front of Markstrom.  I could see him having a great year, and I could also see him having a .910 sv% and being underwhelming.

Kuemper is the safest guy in the group.  Tocchet’s system is outstanding which makes life easier for Kuemper.  The wins probably won’t be better than average, but the save percentage and goals against average should be elite.  The good news is that there are plenty of goalies in the top two tiers that should be great in wins.  Jarry was phenomenal last season, but I’m a little skeptical that he can repeat it.  The Pens are aging quickly, and a bottom pair of Matheson-Ceci screams disaster.  Varlamov was disappointing in 2019-20 (not counting the playoffs), but his numbers from last season should be the floor given Trotz’ system.

Last year couldn’t have gone any worse for Bob.  The last time that he had a miserable season, he won the Vezina the next season.  However, the Panthers sure as hell don’t play defense like Columbus.  The good news is that the Central Division is arguably the weakest of the four, and Nutivaara and Gudas should help the right side a bit.  He could be a top five goalie, he could be unplayable again.  If you want to roll the dice, I don’t blame you, and I don’t blame you if you want to fade him completely.

Samsonov impressed in his rookie season and now he’s in full control of the crease in Washington.  With the King out for the season and more than likely forced into retirement, there’s a chance that Samsonov is a work horse in his first season as the #1.  I think Laviolette should help them defensively, but Washington is nearing the end of their run as a top team.  There’s a chance that Samsonov’s season is a pretty big disappointment.  Saros has taken over the #1 spot from Rinne, but I’d be surprised if Saros played more than 36 of the 56 games.  Hynes should have the Predators playing better defensively and the Central Division is weak, so I could easily see myself moving Saros up in this tier by the time I put together my top 200.  Price has bottom end #1 upside and Montreal did improve their team, but the Canadian Division should be fairly high scoring and Price has been poor two of the last three seasons.  I’ve been low on Price for almost my entire time writing at Razzball and I don’t see a reason to change that right now.

TIER FOUR: UPSIDE WITH DOWNSIDE

19) John Gibson

20) Petr Mrazek

21) Thatcher Demko

22) Linus Ullmark

23) Cam Talbot

24) Joonas Korpisalo

25) Braden Holtby

26) Elvis Merzlikins

I firmly believe Gibson is a top three goalie in the league, but I have no faith in the team in front of him.  You can’t rule out Gibson having a God run and being elite, and the good news is they have a ton of games against the Kings late which could make him a playoff difference maker, but the goals against average will almost certainly be bad.  Mrazek goes to an easy division on the second best team there, but he’s coming off a .905 sv%.  If he has a .915 sv%, he’d be an elite #2. Demko has tremendous upside, but the most likely scenario is that he splits with Holtby.  I don’t mind grabbing both of them and seeing what happens, especially in roto leagues.  It’s the exact same deal with the Columbus duo.  Do you believe that Ullmark had the sixth best even strength save percentage in the league last season?  You should because it’s true!  The Sabres penalty kill was so bad last season which hurt Ullmark, but it’s hard to imagine it being that bad again.  His numbers last season were of a decent #2 and he should get an even bigger workload.  My only pause is the division being so good.  That said, I really want Ullmark as my #3.  I kind of want to move Talbot up but at the same time, it’s Cam Talbot.  He was very good with Calgary last year with a .919, but it was only in 26 games (22 starts).  Minnesota has the chance of being decent, especially in that division, so he would be another great #3 if possible.

TIER FIVE: ELITE BACKUPS AND SOME LEFTOVERS

27) Corey Crawford

28) MacKenzie Blackwood

29) Mikko Koskinen

30) Marc-Andre Fleury

31) Pekka Rinne

32) Jaroslav Halak

33) Pavel Francouz

34) Ilya Sorokin

I don’t know what to do with the Devils tandem.  They both had decent seasons last year, but that team is in a really tough spot in that division.  I just don’t see a path to them even being decent in wins or GAA.  The save percentages could be decent though.  On the other hand, Koskinen has some wins upside, although it’s far from a guarantee.  However, the GAA is a near lock to be poor given their defense and a potentially high scoring division.  I would start Fleury, Halak, and Francouz in every game that they play.  If you have deep benches, I could see holding them, but at the least, they’re elite streamers.  Rinne was downright awful last season, but you can’t rule out a bounce back.  That said, he’s 38 so I don’t want to bank on it.  Sorokin is the future for the Islanders, but I don’t see the volume being there.  There’s no chance he gets many games early in the season as he gets acclimated to the NHL.  Perhaps he plays well enough to get more games late, or the Islanders disappoint a bit, but he’s a big wild card.

TIER SIX: DESPERATION PLAYS

35) Thomas Greiss

36) Matt Murray 

37) Jonathan Quick

38) Devan Dubnyk

39) Collin Delia 

40) Martin Jones

41) Malcolm Subban

I want nothing to do with these guys.  There’s a path to them being good in one category, but it’s very hard to see them being good at two.  If I had to pick one to surprise, I guess it would be Delia?  These guys only have value in leagues where you need goaltending starts; I don’t see many situations where you’ll want to stream any of them this year.

That’s all for now guys.  I’ll be back tomorrow with my defensemen tiers.  Please ask any questions, give any comments, or make any suggestions below; it would be great to hear from all of the loyal readers.  Thanks for reading, take care!

  1. Peter Parker says:
    (link)

    Good morning! A few questions:

    1. I’m not understanding how Semyon Varlamov is ranking fairly low?? Especially in mock drafts… am I missing something?? Isn’t the NYI defensive system very stingy?
    2. I believe that Juuse Saros could be a top-10 goaltender this season. I see Rinne continuing his slide and Saros gets the bulk of starts. Am I dreaming?
    3. Linus Ullmark is this season’s biggest sleeper… any chance I’m right?

    Thank you for all you guys do! Priceless information that I look forward to during my draft prep!

    • Viz

      Viz says:
      (link)

      Thanks for the questions!

      1) Do you mean my ranking of 14 is low or he’s ranked low elsewhere? He was the 15th best goalie last season in fantasy so I’m expecting him to be the same. Their system is strong but I don’t expect it to get better all of a sudden, especially in that division. Add in the threat of Sorokin and there’s no way I could have him in the top 10.

      2) There’s a chance that he is, yes. You can re-order my third tier in a number of ways that I wouldn’t argue with. That said, Saros had a .914 and ,915 the last two seasons, and Nashville isn’t as good defensively as in the past which is causing his GAA to continually rise. My guess is he ends up a top #2, but a bottom end #1 isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

      3) You could definitely be right here. He was great at even strength last season which is the most important thing. He should also get a ton of volume as long as Hutton is the backup. There’s some risk, but there’s real upside.

      • Peter Parker says:
        (link)

        Your rankings are great!! I was referencing Yahoo’s mock drafts… I am shocked at Varlamov being their 28th ranked goalie! His ADP is 13.8. I will consider it a steal if I can land him in those rounds. Last year he had 39 starts (45 games played), and had a bad 7-game stretch through January. Take those 7 out of 39 starts out, and he had a 2.45 gaa with a .920 sv%. I guess I just see the upside… LOL

        • Viz

          Viz says:
          (link)

          Wow, that’s crazy! I will try to do a post breaking down rankings on the other sites, but 28th is an absolute joke. It’s hard to imagine any scenario where he’s not a G2.

          • Peter Parker says:
            (link)

            Good… so you are saying that I am NOT crazy!!! Phew!

            Cannot wait to read the rest of your rankings this week! Also, will you be putting out a top sleeper list? Last season you really hyped up Andrei Svechnikov.. and we all know how that turned out!!

            Thank you!

            • Viz

              Viz says:
              (link)

              Haha nah you’re not crazy. You’ll be able to see who I rank much higher than ADP as a guide, and I’ll probably just post a list of players I really like or dislike this season next week at some point. For this week, I won’t have one, but take a look at my defensemen post that comes out Tuesday and let me know if you think it’s obvious enough who some of my sleepers are or not.

  2. Harry Connick Sr. says:
    (link)

    Nice work on the rankings, season is almost here!

    Any thoughts on the Canadians acquiring Jake Allen? Could he pull any relevant amount of games from Price, or is he purely insurance for a Price injury?

    Thanks!

    • Viz

      Viz says:
      (link)

      Thanks! Can’t wait! I think he’ll be streamable in a lot of matchups, but I don’t see him getting more than 1/3 of starts which is ~18 games. It would take a rough start from Price for Allen to get close to an even split

  3. Teddy BB says:
    (link)

    Hey Viz,
    As I mentioned to you on Twitter, your rankings helped me win my pool last year, so I’m following your rankings 100% for my upcoming draft.
    A couple questions:
    1) Is there a risk of Lehner and Rask not getting enough starts to justify being a #1 tier if their coaches split playing time with Fleury & Halak ?
    2) With only divisional play this season, I see the central division as being low scoring. I think that the Carolina & Columbus duos will benefit a lot. Your thoughts ?

  4. Chet says:
    (link)

    Thanks, Viz. What are your thoughts on Raanta in Arizona?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
      (link)

      Of course, no problem! Kuemper is the clear #1 at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Raanta is traded during the season to a team that has a goalie injury (or simply wants insurance) since he’s a pending UFA. As a Sabres fan, I would love to get Raanta as a backup. Anyways, for fantasy, he’s one of the best backups who is a solid streamer in most matchups, he’s just a level below the Halak’s, Francouz’, and MAF’s of the world.

  5. Chet says:
    (link)

    Sounds good. Thanks for the response. Happy New Year!

  6. Take flight says:
    (link)

    Thanks Viz and happy new year!!

    Given shortened season with compressed schedule (lots of back to backs), what is your goalie draft strategy? In years past I played in 12 team H2H std goalie cats and goalies went off the shelf starting in second round due to performance volatility.

    Thinking maybe there’s going to be more viable options this year and can target more backups?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
      (link)

      No problem, Happy New Year to you! In general, my goalie strategy isn’t going to change. I never draft a goalie in the first two rounds and it’s rare I take one in the third because the ones I would take are usually gone. In general though, there aren’t as many back-to-backs as you’d think. There are some exceptions, but only a few teams have 10-12 B2B, and a lot of teams have 8 which is actually a lower percentage than a normal season. I think you’ll be able to plan on backups playing more this year than usual, but really I’m just drafting goalies as normal

Comments are closed.