Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon. Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split. Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year. I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players. For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there. In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume. If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary. Let's get to it!
For all of your that play head to head leagues, I hope that you took down your title over the weekend! For those of you in roto leagues, you are still playing out the rest of the week. This post will be short for that reason, but I want to bring a few things to your attention that could help you in your push to the finish line. As a reminder, over the rest of this week, I will do a post on what went right and wrong with my rankings this season, how my bold predictions went, and then setting up a Bracket Challenge once the bracket is set. After that, my posts will be infrequent during the summer as the fantasy hockey season comes to an end. Let's get to it!
Connor Hellebuyck hasn't been as good as in the past, but he's capable of stealing playoff series for the Jets. He'll probably have to do that this year, especially if Ehlers isn't back. He had a peak performance on Wednesday with a 32 save shutout in the 4-0 win over the Flames. Even with Hellebuyck being below expectation, he's still been a bottom end #1 goalie. That's why we take him as a top 5 goalie: safety. As I have preached for years, goalies are voodoo, but Hellebuyck is one of the only exceptions. Here's what else happened the last two nights:
Things have taken a dramatic turn for the fourth playoff spot in the West division. With the Blues crumbling, Arizona has played its way into the fourth spot. They opened up a three point lead on Sunday night, almost exclusively because of Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun had the first hat trick of his career, tying the game late in the third before scoring the winner in overtime. That gives him twelve goals on the season pushing towards three shots per game and with elite penalty minutes. He's a solid #2 for this season, but what's the long term ceiling? Chychrun just turned 23 years old and this jump in shot rate does a lot for his long term value. In terms of dynasties, Chychrun has shown me enough this year to warrant a spot in the bottom of the top ten for defensemen, making him a #1D. He's a stud, plain and simple. Arizona has been a surprise offensively, and a lot of it has to do with their kingpin defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Injuries have robbed us of an amazing Cale Makar season. The good news is that he's back now and dominating games on a consistent basis. Makar had three assists with four shots in Colorado's 5-2 win over the Ducks on Monday. That brings Makar up to a point per game on the season with a +12 rating in 22 games that isn't a fluke at all. We've seen a slight uptick in his shot rate this season, but a big jump there is what it will take for Makar to move into being a top five defenseman instead of being a middling to bottom end #1. With how well he plays in his age 22 season, I have no doubt that it's coming. For dynasties, I think he has to be the top defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Mika Zibanejad was looking like the biggest bust of this season near the halfway point. Well, it's changing pretty quickly and amazingly, it wasn't the Sabres that turned it around. Last week, Zibanejad had three goals and three assists against the Flyers. It was so fun that he did it again eight days later! On Thursday, Zibanejad doubled down with his second natural hat trick and six point game in rapid succession against Philadelphia in the 8-3 win. That brings him up to 10+16 in 32 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but within reason. He's still over three shots per game, so while a repeat top 20 season is out of play, a top 50 season is still within reason. As I said at the time, Zibanejad is prone to huge hot streaks, and I think 17 points in 7 games qualifies. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Sure, it's on the basis of playing two more games than Washington, but the Islanders in first place in late March is a truly remarkable feat. Yes, they did make the Conference Finals last season, but in this division, they were not expected to contend for first place. Goaltending is going a long way for their success, and their future is starting to become more of the present. Ilya Sorokin saved 36 of 37 shots in the 2-1 OT win over the Flyers on Monday night. That brings Sorokin to 8 wins in 11 games with a 1.97/.922 stat line. That's elite right off the bat for the rookie which has led Sorokin to starting four games over the past two weeks. Semyon Varlamov's numbers and Sorokin's are nearly identical and for now, Trotz seems content to split between the two of them. Long term, Sorokin is one of the best goalies for fantasy hockey, granted he's a 25 year old rookie. That said, he's playing enough right now that I would own Sorokin in all formats. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Nothing helps getting your season back on track like playing against the Buffalo Sabres. Carter Hart has had a really rough go of it in the opening month of the season, but on Sunday, he looked to turn it around in Buffalo. You'd think that after the Sabres were shutout 3-0 on Saturday that they would come out firing on Sunday. Nope. Hart stopped all 28 shots he faced, most of the routine variety, to beat the Sabres 3-0. Brian Elliott only needed to make 23 saves on Saturday as the Sabres are in complete disarray. As I always say, goalies are voodoo, but I'd be stunned if Hart doesn't make a jump towards being a #1 fantasy goalie again. If you can buy low on Hart, I would try to do so. The fact that the Flyers are 11-4-3 despite Hart's horrible start shows you what kind of upside the team has. Elliott should be streamed every time he starts as his save percentage is over .930 in his eight games. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Out of the three players moved in the big Columbus-Winnipeg blockbuster, the extra player is the one who has been the best on his new team and it's not even close. Jack Roslovic has been outstanding since moving to his home town team. He scored two goals on four shots in the 6-5 win over Chicago. That brings him to 4+5 in 9 games with the Blue Jackets. The shot rate is poor to this point, but he also has nine shots in the past three games so it's looking up. I really liked Roslovic as a prospect, but it never clicked in Winnipeg for whatever reason. Now, he's playing center, which appears to be his better position, and Torts is utilizing him as a #1 center. Roslovic is widely available and should be added in all leagues. There's no guarantee it lasts, but he's hot right now and there's real upside to be had. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
To say I've been bullish on Filip Forsberg for half a decade now would be an understatement. To say I've been over-bullish is probably fair. Call it stubbornness, call it belief in the player, whatever you want, but I was the high man on Forsberg this year and I think we're finally getting that massive season we've all been waiting for. Forsberg was incredible on Thursday night, a back-and-forth affair between the Panthers and Predators. Forsberg totaled five points, two goals and three assists, with eight shots in the victory. For the season, that puts Forsberg at 6+5 in 10 games with exactly four shots per game. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. He hasn't even played Detroit yet! If he keeps shooting four shots on per game, he'll be a slam dunk top 50 player with upside from there. Forsberg is at 15% shooting right now which isn't far off his norm. The minutes are starting to go up a bit which is the main thing which held him back under Laviolette. Thirty goals and over a point per game isn't out of the question. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: