The Goalie Report: League Review

The Goalie Report: League Review

The NHL will pause starting Wednesday stretching through Christmas until Sunday, Dec. 26, so there's a slight wrinkle to this week's edition of The Goalie Report. Rather than recapping some of the sparse activity over the last week, this edition will feature the goalie situation for all 32 teams.

Anaheim Ducks

Anthony Stolarz has been excellent all season, ranking ninth in naturalstattrick.com's GSAA model at 5-on-5. This is especially noteworthy because it is miles ahead of John Gibson, who ranks 89th out of 90 qualifying goalies. This doesn't mean Stolarz should take over the starting job, but you do wonder if the Ducks see the same thing. It makes Stolarz worth at least a long-term stash, just in case he gets more starts, and if Gibson is traded to kickstart the Ducks' rebuild, that will give Stolarz's fantasy value another boost.  

Arizona Coyotes

Without Scott Wedgewood, Coyotes goalies are a combined 2-14-1 with a .881 Sv%. None of their goalies are relevant for fantasy purposes.

Boston Bruins

They're in somewhat of a holding pattern until Tuukka Rask's future — either with the Bruins or retirement — is decided. Neither Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have managed to get a hold of the starting job and it looks like a platoon (read: fantasy manager's headache) for the rest of the season.

Buffalo Sabres

Craig Anderson's future is uncertain, Dustin Tokarski remains on the shelf and Aaron Dell has been demoted to the minors, which means Ukko-Pekka

The NHL will pause starting Wednesday stretching through Christmas until Sunday, Dec. 26, so there's a slight wrinkle to this week's edition of The Goalie Report. Rather than recapping some of the sparse activity over the last week, this edition will feature the goalie situation for all 32 teams.

Anaheim Ducks

Anthony Stolarz has been excellent all season, ranking ninth in naturalstattrick.com's GSAA model at 5-on-5. This is especially noteworthy because it is miles ahead of John Gibson, who ranks 89th out of 90 qualifying goalies. This doesn't mean Stolarz should take over the starting job, but you do wonder if the Ducks see the same thing. It makes Stolarz worth at least a long-term stash, just in case he gets more starts, and if Gibson is traded to kickstart the Ducks' rebuild, that will give Stolarz's fantasy value another boost.  

Arizona Coyotes

Without Scott Wedgewood, Coyotes goalies are a combined 2-14-1 with a .881 Sv%. None of their goalies are relevant for fantasy purposes.

Boston Bruins

They're in somewhat of a holding pattern until Tuukka Rask's future — either with the Bruins or retirement — is decided. Neither Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have managed to get a hold of the starting job and it looks like a platoon (read: fantasy manager's headache) for the rest of the season.

Buffalo Sabres

Craig Anderson's future is uncertain, Dustin Tokarski remains on the shelf and Aaron Dell has been demoted to the minors, which means Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Malcolm Subban might be the tandem. Luukkonen obviously offers much more long-term upside, but this feels like a timeshare with Subban perhaps getting the edge just to make sure Luukkonen doesn't get shell-shocked.

Calgary Flames

Since the 2018-19 season, no team has finished with a save percentage higher than .921. The Flames are currently the league leaders at .924, according to hockey-reference.com, in large part thanks to Jacob Markstrom's .933 Sv%, 1.94 GAA and shutting out his opponents five times in 10 wins. But Markstrom's already shown signs of slowing down; if you consider his career averages, December tends to be his best month with a career .921 Sv%, and after that it continues to dip from .914 Sv% in January to .894 Sv% in April. Don't fret — Markstrom is still a very good goalie on a team that defends and forechecks well, but his fantasy value might've peaked already.

Carolina Hurricanes

Their bet on Frederik Andersen has paid off, even though the Canes hit a rough patch from mid- to late-November. For the most part, they've recovered well, winning six of seven games heading into the break and might blitz through the rest of the season. The slight worry is backup Antti Raanta, who now has a sub-.910 Sv% in three of his last four seasons.

Chicago Blackhawks

The good news is Marc-Andre Fleury has corrected course. He went 0-5 in October with a .872 Sv% but bounced back in November with a .935 Sv%. He's probably somewhere in between, but given the holes in the Hawks' lineup, he'll be an average goalie at best. Kevin Lankinen has been disappointing in his sophomore season and hasn't been able to turn things around like the veteran Fleury.

Colorado Avalanche

Darcy Kuemper has fantasy value because he's the starter on a good team, and not necessarily because he's been good. Among the 17 goalies with at least 10 wins, Kuemper ranks 15th with a .907 Sv%. Kuemper's been one of the more disappointing goalies in fantasy this season, despite two separate four-game winning streaks. Pavel Francouz was not sharp in his season debut (four goals on 34 shots) and both goalies will need goal support to win games. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Elvis Merzlikins started really well but has tailed off, perhaps due to fatigue; his .939 Sv% in October dipped to .913 and .884 over the next two months. Even though he's statistically having the worst season of his career in both Sv% and GAA, his 11 wins have already surpassed last season's total in four fewer starts and two away from matching his career high set in his rookie season. The difference has been goal support, and when all is said and done, Merzlikins might be one of the bigger fantasy surprises this season. Joonas Korpisalo does not seem to be a threat to take the starting job.

Dallas Stars

It'll surely be Jake Oettinger and Braden Holtby the rest of the way, but a few things are concerning about the Stars. They're awful on the road (4-9-1), which means fantasy managers are sitting them for nearly half the games already, and their roster is very old and doesn't provide a lot of scoring. Still, against the right team on home ice, Oettinger and Holtby should provide good returns for the rest of the season.

Detroit Red Wings

Alex Nedeljkovic is younger and better than Thomas Greiss and should be the undisputed starter going forward, but his stats are somewhat misleading. He's been excellent against weak teams, such as Arizona (.931 Sv%), Buffalo (.917 Sv%) and Montréal (.952 Sv%), but predictably bad against stronger teams such as Carolina (.875 Sv%) and Tampa Bay (.854 Sv%). The Wings have improved a lot but remain a bubble playoff team, and unless Nedlejkovic gets hot, he's very much a matchup dependent option.  

Edmonton Oilers

It's Mike Smith's net until the Oilers can find a better option. Mikko Koskinen is just unreliable good goal support is just about the only reason he's won 12 of 17 starts. Stuart Skinner has looked good in spurts but still a long way away from becoming a reliable goalie. Oilers goalies have fantasy value because they can rack up the wins, but otherwise the peripherals will continue to suffer with a thin defense and inconsistent goaltending.

Florida Panthers

Sergei Bobrovsky may be one of the best fantasy goalies by the end of the season, though his reputation hasn't completely recovered and therefore probably undervalued. Spencer Knight may spend the rest of the season in the AHL, becoming one of the more disappointing breakout candidates when many expected him to at least fight for the starting job. Jonas Johansson figures to be the backup, but his stint in Colorado proved that he's unreliable, so Bobrovsky might end up getting a huge workload.

Los Angeles Kings

It's a resurgent season for Jonathan Quick, who has only eight wins despite a .930 Sv% and remains widely available roughly 40 percent of Yahoo leagues. Goaltending is something the Kings haven't really had to worry about very much this season, but goal support certainly has. Quick is a serviceable borderline No. 2 goalie if only for the good save percentages.

Minnesota Wild

Kaapo Kahkonen's subpar performances is one reason he hasn't been able to get much playing time. Cam Talbot will continue to be the workhorse, and while he's generally been very good this season, he's prone to the odd blow-up game. If fantasy managers can ride out the volatility, Talbot's a good source of wins.

Montreal Canadiens

Jake Allen is barely playable, and even when the Habs are at full strength, there's very little confidence in a poorly constructed roster. Neither Samuel Montembeault nor Cayden Primeau are sneaky adds, either, because they have not played well enough to be even considered threats to Allen's starting job.

Nashville Predators

The break came at an inopportune time for Juuse Saros, who has won five straight games and continuing where he left off. The Preds have been surprisingly competitive even though the Ryan Ellis trade seems like a net loss and, according to hockey-reference.com's model, has the highest percentage of quality starts (.792) among goalies with at least 10 starts, ahead of the likes of Campbell and Vasilevskiy. There was some hesitation about Saros being a top-5 fantasy goalie this season, but he's certainly quashed all doubts.

New Jersey Devils

The good thing about Mackenzie Blackwood is that he's capable of stealing games. The rest of the time, however, is hoping that the other guy at the end of the ice is worse and that his offense will provide enough goal support. Jonathan Bernier's injury has the Devils scrambling for goalies, the latest band-aid being Jon Gillies, but given how their backups have fared, look for Blackwood to be a workhorse. He'll get saves, but everything else would be a big bonus.

New York Islanders

The Isles are old and slow, and after losing Devon Toews and Nick Leddy in consecutive seasons, depend far too much on Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, who have not been an elite pairing this season. Ilya Sorokin has been excellent but only sports a 7-7-5 record, though he's the No. 1 ahead of Semyon Varlamov. The Isles have never been a good possession team, so it's hard to say if they'll turn it around, but there really just hasn't been many positive signs.

New York Rangers

Alexandar Georgiev is capable of holding down the fort for short stretches, but that's about it. The Rangers' poor possession numbers are slightly concerning, but that hasn't fazed Igor Shesterkin. Fantasy managers steeped in analytics may want to take advantage of Shesterkin's fantasy value at the moment before a regression comes, but long term, Shesterkin figures to be one of the most popular fantasy commodities as one of the league's best young netminders.  

Ottawa Senators

Until recently, no Sens goalie had a save percentage higher than .900. The 28-year-old Anton Forsberg is the No. 1 for now, but expect Filip Gustavsson to figure into the rotation again. There's also Matt Murray, but his demotion was so controversial that it feels like he may have played his last game as a Senator barring a career-defining comeback. There's almost no upside with Sens goalies this season.

Philadelphia Flyers

Carter Hart has improved, but is that saying a whole lot? At the very least, his .918 Sv% is respectable and he's earned back some goodwill that he had lost. Is he still a potential franchise goalie? The Flyers are too inconsistent to tell, and their continued struggles will put a cap on his fantasy value.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Tristan Jarry has been a very nice surprise and, once again, the Pens may have made the right choice in net. The Pens are fourth in their division, so it doesn't feel like Jarry's been doing his job, but his numbers are excellent with a 15-5-4 record and .932 Sv%. At his current pace, Jarry won't stay under the radar for long, and the Pens have won seven straight despite injuries to key players. If there's a chance for fantasy managers to acquire Jarry before the Pens get healthy and continue their run, it's now.

San Jose Sharks

James Reimer has been a nice surprise with a .936 Sv%, but there's plenty of skeptics, considering Reimer is only rostered in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues. His GSAA is the highest it's ever been, but it's also not really out of the ordinary for someone who once garnered Hart Trophy votes. If there's a case against Reimer, it's that the Sharks are expected to move a few veterans (if they can) as they continue to retool and rebuild.

Seattle Kraken

Philipp Grubauer might be the most disappointing and worst starter in the league and Chris Driedger has been no better as the Kraken's inaugural season continues to sink. The analytics say the Kraken aren't as bad as their record suggests, but when Grubauer and Driedger are performing below league averages, things likely won't change. Jettisoning Grubauer and Driedger when their fantasy values are at the lowest seems like poor asset management, and patient fantasy managers might want to wait until the Kraken go on a little run before thinking about trading them.

St. Louis Blues

Charlie Lindgren is a perfect 5-0-0 with a .958 Sv% and 1.22 GAA and even forced Craig Berube to start him over a healthy Jordan Binnington against the Stars, and then watched as Binnington lost to the struggling Jets on Dec. 19, his first game in nearly three weeks. It's created an interesting situation in the backup role and how much they will get to play given Binnington's struggles. Lindgren is a journeyman who is playing well over his head, but there's also no question that he's been better than Ville Husso, who has yet to return from a lower-body injury. Lindgren's play should fall off a little bit, but if it doesn't fall off too much and Binnington continues to struggle, he could eventually play himself into a 1B role. That said, Lindgren's fantasy value should be approached with caution because the Blues have other options in a healthy Husso and fellow prospect Joel Hofer, but as it stands, Lindgren might figure into the Blues' plans for the rest of the season.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Andrei Vasilevskiy remains the league's best goalie because he always meets lofty expectations. The Lightning can win games a variety of ways and remain a Cup contender even though they've lost considerable depth and key players to injury. They've even helped Brian Elliott to a winning record, though most nights it feels like a scheduled loss.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Jack Campbell has been excellent, and perhaps the 29-year-old is just a late bloomer, but just a reminder that he battled lower-body issues last season and couldn't really handle the workload even though he outplayed Andersen. The other concern is on defense, where the Leafs don't have much depth. Proceed with some caution with Campbell, who has a .909 Sv% in five games in December, if only because he's still largely unproven as an elite No. 1.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks continue to bleed shots, but that's just part of their DNA because their roster just isn't built to play a defensive style. That doesn't make Thatcher Demko's job any easier, but it does mean more goal support; he's having the best season of his career with a career-high .919 Sv% and career-low 2.63 GAA, yet he has just one more win (13) than combined losses (12) in 25 starts. It's hard to top a 6-0-0 record going into the holiday break, but Demko's fantasy value is the highest it's ever been this season. Jaroslav Halak is a serviceable backup and Boudreau is a fan, but Demko's proven he can be a workhorse.

Vegas Golden Knights

It's a good thing the Knights are starting to get healthy and may even see Jack Eichel in the new year, because their goal support might be the only reason why Robin Lehner's still a viable fantasy option. Among 34 goalies who have played at least 600 minutes at 5-on-5, according to naturalstattrick.com, Lehner's .793 high-danger Sv% ranks second last, ahead of only Grubauer. If he can improve that even to just .813, which he posted last season, it could be the difference between a subpar and a Jennings-worthy season.

Washington Capitals

Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek enter the break each with 16 games played and a .910 Sv%, though Samsonov has the edge with three shutouts. No question, Samsonov should be the more valuable fantasy option, but it looks like the Caps are OK just simply going with a rotation until one gets the hot hand. That causes headaches for fantasy managers, who will need to roster both goalies to get full value.

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets have performed well below expectations, which prompted Paul Maurice to resign, but Connor Hellebuyck has remained a solid fantasy option. He's overcome a very poor start and remains a workhorse, ranking third in shots against and fifth in minutes played.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only NHL Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire NHL fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Chen
Jason won the 2021 FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year award, and was also a finalist on 2019. He joined RotoWire in 2013. Jason has also written for Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, The Hockey News, The Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends Magazine, and Centre Ice Magazine.
DraftKings NHL: Saturday Breakdown
DraftKings NHL: Saturday Breakdown
FanDuel NHL: Saturday Targets
FanDuel NHL: Saturday Targets
Yahoo DFS Hockey: Saturday Picks
Yahoo DFS Hockey: Saturday Picks
DraftKings NHL: Friday Breakdown
DraftKings NHL: Friday Breakdown