We've reached the end of my rankings by positions. On Friday, I plan to launch RCL's, with my top 100 and 200 coming out next week. Today, we have ranks 21-40 for goaltending, and boy is it ugly. There's a bit of upside here, and if you play your cards right, some really good roto options, but also some guys that I want nothing to do with but have to rank solely on volume. You can see my Top 20 goalies here. Let's get to it!
We've reached the last position through the ranking process! I'm going to do the top 40 goalies in two separate posts before putting together a top 100 and 200 list by the end of next week. Just a quick refresher on my draft strategy with goalies: I do not take them in the first two rounds under any circumstance, and I better be getting good value in rounds 3-5 to pull the trigger. The reason is that goaltenders have much higher variance than any other position in fantasy sports (e.g. Carey Price). I will take my chances on hitting the next breakout guy(s) than paying such a premium for a proven commodity because the proven player can fall off at any time. Let's get to it!
I apologize for missing my streamer column this week. I’m a college admissions counselor and my weekends have been taken up with reading applications and watching the Olympics. I stumbled into some free time and need to solve a pressing problem on one of my own fantasy hockey teams, so join me as I explore the world of goalies before the fantasy playoffs.
As some of you know I only use one goalie, and stream when necessary. This strategy gets me an additional skater to play for 3-4 games a week, and prevents me from fretting about ratios and wins- I can focus on getting offensive categories and can roll the dice on my ratios (sv% and GAA). I drafted Braden Holtby for this role, but his last few starts have been absolutely terrible: 5, 4, 6, and 4 goals allowed in his last four starts. His GAA on the season is 2.95, nearly a full goal greater than last year and a full half goal above his career average.
Because the playoffs are coming, I need to figure out why this is happening. I’ve been content to let Holtby’s performance slip and slide, but now the heat is on to get decent performances- a championship is on the line. So, I’ve built a goalie-stats spreadsheet to try and figure out where I can gain an advantage and if need be, work a trade before the end of the weekend, or decide to ride out the storm.
I live in Canada, eh. And what I saw here on election night, and now post-election, was a country shaken to the core in absolute disbelief at how the American election turned out. If that’s how we as a nation are collectively feeling, I can’t imagine how high emotions are running on the other side of the border right now. I’m sure last night’s result cut a lot of social network friend lists in half, for starters. But I’m here to say, for better or worse, dammit man, we have hockey.
So I’m in this one league that drafts way too early each year. On top of that, it’s an email draft that typically takes up to 3 weeks to complete. And it’s deep. Very deep. Twenty teams, with 20-man rosters. So why do I torture myself year after year, with this slow-as-molasses-and-way-too-soon draft? Because it preps me for all the others I will take part in leading up to the season. They’re still playing World Cup games, for crying out loud. How is anyone supposed to be ready for this?
Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? You somehow made the fantasy playoffs, even though your goaltending is suspect. For this playoff edition of the Goalie Report, I’m going to do away with the regular format and go right ahead and list who’s worth an add, who to avoid, and a few desperation plays – if that’s how you roll.
These guys might be available in 12-team leagues, but anything deeper and who are we kidding? You’re likely stuck with what you’ve got, and if you’re lucky, one or more of the desperation plays will work out for you.
For most of the season Rasmus Ristolainen, D (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) has been largely forgettable on a forgettable team. His season line currently sits at 8/9/17/-29 in 73 games played and that’s going to make most owners laugh and look elsewhere for blue line help at this point in the season, but if you did that you’d be making a mistake. As my mantra goes, at this point in the season it doesn’t really matter what has happened, it only matters what’s happening now and right now the talented young rearguard is starting to catch fire and is definitely worth a look in most formats now and should absolutely be on your radar for a breakout campaign in the next season or two.
One of the most important variables to consider when making moves during the fantasy hockey playoffs is games remaining. How many games are your guys playing this week? You might be feeling confident with Vladimir Tarasenko slotted in on your right side, but he only plays two games this week and one of them is already done and gone so unless Vladdy blows up against the Jackets on Saturday he isn’t going to do much for you this week. Ah, head-to-head, she’s a fickle beast. Does that mean you should you drop the Tarasenko Express? Absolutely not, especially if you’re in a keeper league, but it does illustrate a point cannot be ignored at this point in the season; you absolutely must pay attention to games to be played on a weekly basis and how many games are left to be played in the second half of the week. When you can’t beat them with quality, beat them with quantity. To aid you in this effort I’ve compiled a list of the games remaining for each team this week (including today):
THREE GAMES LEFT – Anaheim, Boston, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Isles, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Washington.
TWO GAMES LEFT – Arizona, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.
ONE GAME LEFT – Edmonton, Philadelphia, St. Louis.
Clearly you want to avoid guys that skate for the Oil, Flyers and Blues for the rest of the week. That’s a bummer considering how beastly the Oil’s top line has been playing, but it is what it is. Manage your guys well and make sure you get more games in than the other guy and you should be okay. Next week I’ll post a more comprehensive list like this at the beginning of the week and update again mid-week with remaining games to keep y’all on track. Don’t fall apart now; the championship is within your grasp! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Man, what the hell happened with Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 33 SV, 1.000%, SHO) this season? I honestly have no idea. Yes, the Stars have dealt with injuries since before the start of the season and that’s definitely hurt team chemistry. Yes, their defense is more offensively minded than they should be and when you mix that with a handful of youth on the blue line and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. Yes, he sports a 31-14-10 record which is pretty stellar, but when you pair it with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage through 59 starts this season you’ve got yourself a recipe for a lot of disgruntled owners. Despite all that, and despite everything I’ve been saying for most of the season, Kari is getting hot at the right time and you’d do well to pick him up for the playoffs.
It’s an interesting question, JD. Thanks, self! Just how good has Carey Price, G (L, 30 SV, 2 GA, .938%) been this season? Pretty damn good, that’s how good. In 52 starts he has posted a season line of 36-13-3/1.92/.935/6 and with 18 games left in the regular season for the Habs, Carey now leads the Vezina race over Pekka Rinne and will challenge Dominik Hasek’s ridiculous 1998-99 season. That year Hasek posted arguably the best season by a goalie ever putting up a 1.87 goals-against average to go with a robust .937 save percentage. That’s absolutely ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is the shooting gallery he faced doing it. There has rarely been a better example of a one-man show than the 1998 Buffalo Sabres, who had no earthly business making the playoffs but no one told Hasek that. Then Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff would let his entire team pinch deep offensively allowing tons of odd-man rushes leaving Hasek hanged out to dry more often than not and more often than not Hasek shut the door. The 2014 Habs aren’t nearly that bad, but it can be argued that without Price they would be struggling to make the playoffs, don’t get me started on leading the Eastern Conference. Indeed, Carey’s 1.92 goals-against average to pair with his beastly .935 save percentage have carried the Habs to first overall in the east despite sitting just 22nd overall with 2.6 goals per game on offense and sporting one of the league’s more inept power plays ranking 24th overall converting on just 16.8% of their chances. That’s pretty ridiculous and come playoff time the Habs will have trouble advancing without a potent power play, but don’t put it past Price to carry them to the Eastern Conference Finals again. Is Price putting up the best season for a goalie ever? You could certainly argue that’s the case. I know I am. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
It seems like every season there’s one or two breakout goalies that can help make the difference between winning and losing when it counts the most. This season is no exception, and though John Gibson’s strong play is a surprise to no one, Andrew Hammond, G (L, 36 SV, 2 GA, .947%) has been a revelation. Though the two net minders couldn’t be more different; Gibson with his blue chip pedigree and ceiling as high as the sky and Hammond, a 27-year-old no-name never-has-been with a ceiling about as high as my living room’s, both goalies have been hot enough to earn the right to split time with their respective team’s starters making them both most owns in virtually every league.
In a move that can only be seen as trying to tank for a better position in the McDavid sweepstakes, Sabres GM Tim Murry pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for backup goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in 2016 today. This move comes right on the heels of another that sent arguably their best defenseman Tyler Myers to the Jets for injured winger Evander Kane. Regardless of whatever the thinking behind this move was, it radically alters the goalie landscape in Dallas and the number one job is most definitely up for grabs with Enroth in town. Maybe the Stars are looking for a way to motivate the struggling Kari Lehtonen to start playing up to his usual standards, but one thing is for certain, Enroth has the ability to take the job from Kari and it sounds like the Stars are going to give him every opportunity to do so.