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Posted On Friday, 08.22.2014 / 10:30 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy goalie dilemma: Niemi vs. Stalock

The clock is ticking for San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, and Alex Stalock appears ready to pounce on any opportunity that comes his way.

Niemi, who turns 31 next week, is entering a contract year off a second consecutive Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. But unlike the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Niemi put his team in position to take the series (two goals or fewer allowed in six of seven games), the Sharks' latest exit came in the worst fashion imaginable.

The Sharks took a 3-0 series lead against the Kings but failed to close the deal with four straight losses. Los Angeles became the fourth team in NHL history to win a series when facing such a deficit and went on to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Make no mistake, factors such as defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's injury and the Kings' ability to dictate puck possession and lock down defensively certainly determined the result of the series. That said, much of the blame could be pinned on Niemi.

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Posted On Thursday, 08.21.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy goalie dilemma: Ward vs. Khudobin

When Cam Ward missed the last 27 games of the 2012-13 NHL season with a sprained MCL, the Carolina Hurricanes went out to shore up their goaltending by adding Anton Khudobin to a mix that already included Justin Peters.

When Ward went down again last season in October (missed 10 games) and in January (missed 13 games), the Hurricanes were better covered in net.

Ward's October injury coincided with Khudobin being sidelined for 32 games with a lower-body injury. Peters went 4-6-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .921 save percentage during that time. When January hit, and the Hurricanes were hovering around the bottom of the standings, Khudobin took charge.

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy goalie dilemma: Health key for Wild trio

In fantasy football, you're able to draft a team defense. If only fantasy hockey owners had the luxury of consolidating the Minnesota Wild goaltenders.

Darcy Kuemper, Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom have proven they are capable of starting at the NHL level -- when healthy. The Wild cycled through five goalies last season because of injuries, but they had the League's seventh-best team goals-allowed average (2.42). That's a testament to organizational depth.

In reality, few teams are better equipped for the rigors of the upcoming season than Minnesota, but that doesn't necessarily help fantasy owners looking for a clear-cut No. 1. Unless you have rare roster flexibility and a willingness to put all your eggs in one basket by scooping up all three Wild goalies, it's important to be strategic when considering one or two of them in your draft.

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Posted On Tuesday, 08.19.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Matt Cubeta -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy goalie dilemma: Elliott vs. Allen

Last season Jaroslav Halak was the St. Louis Blues' starting goalie on opening night. By the time their run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs ended with a six-game series defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks, it was NHL Trade Deadline acquisition Ryan Miller between the pipes for the Blues. Each of these big-name goaltenders is now out of St. Louis (Halak signed with the New York Islanders and Miller signed with the Vancouver Canucks).

As the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. And that's exactly the case with the Blues.

One of the most intriguing goalie dilemmas heading into the 2014-15 NHL season lies in the Gateway City, where veteran backup Brian Elliott and up-and-comer Jake Allen will attempt to grab the No. 1 job for the Blues.

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Posted On Monday, 08.18.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy goalie dilemma: Gibson vs. Andersen

What a difference a year makes for the Anaheim Ducks. Gone are the two goaltenders that started the 2012-13 NHL season, Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth, replaced for this season by rookie John Gibson and second-year player Frederik Andersen.

Andersen, 24, started Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and then, when injuries forced him out of action, the Ducks called up Gibson from the American Hockey League to start what became the remaining four games against the Los Angeles Kings.

Gibson, 21, burst onto the stage when he was named MVP of the United States' gold-medal run at the 2013 World Junior Championship. When he faced the Canucks in his NHL debut on April 7, 2014, the 39th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft became the first goalie in Ducks history to record a shutout in his Anaheim debut.

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Posted On Friday, 08.01.2014 / 3:00 AM

By NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Staff -  /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

30 in 30: Projected lineups, fantasy hockey previews

Throughout the month of August, NHL.com will break down each NHL team with a package of stories and videos. Among the features will be a projected lineup for 2014-15 by Corey Masisak and fantasy previews by Pete Jensen and Matt Cubeta.

Check out each team's outlook for this season by clicking on the logos daily.

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Posted On Friday, 06.27.2014 / 8:45 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Ducks' depth will benefit Kesler

Ryan Kesler is going from a rebuilding project to a playoff team built to win immediately.

The center's fresh start with the Anaheim Ducks should be more than enough to earn back the trust of fantasy owners.

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Posted On Monday, 06.23.2014 / 3:33 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Hartnell can hit 'refresh' in Columbus

Neither the Philadelphia Flyers nor the Columbus Blue Jackets took on a salary cap-friendly contract in swapping left wings Scott Hartnell and R.J. Umberger on Monday.

Hartnell and Umberger have five and three years remaining on their respective contracts. Each is 32 years old and has seen a dip in productivity over the past few years. But from a fantasy standpoint, contract terms don't come into play as much.

The big takeaway from this deal is that Hartnell has waived his no-trade clause to join one of the deepest, most promising forward arsenals in the League. His category coverage helped fantasy owners win their leagues during his time in Philly, and the potential is there for him to hit the "refresh" button in Columbus.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.18.2014 / 3:22 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Trending up, down after 2014 playoffs

The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs were as unpredictable as ever, and fantasy owners can expect many developments from around the NHL to impact next year's landscape.

There were elite-level players (Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Henrik Lundqvist, Patrick Kane, P.K. Subban, etc.) who fueled deep playoff runs for their respective teams, as well as breakout stars from the regular season (Nathan MacKinnon, Jamie Benn, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Johansen, Matt Niskanen, etc.) who carried over their strong play to the big stage.

But the players who will stick in the minds of fantasy owners all summer long are the playoff surprises and disappointments. Here are some players who are trending in fantasy, for better or worse, heading into the offseason as a result of their postseason performances.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.22.2014 / 6:47 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Islanders make big upgrade with Halak

The New York Islanders have a fantasy-relevant starting goalie. Let that sink in.

After trading for the rights of pending unrestricted free agent Jaroslav Halak on May 1, the Islanders locked up their new goalie Thursday with a four-year contract. For a team that hasn't had much stability at the position or success on the free-agent front in recent years, the signing is a major step in the right direction.

Halak, a productive fantasy goalie behind a stingy defense during his tenure with the St. Louis Blues, is one of four goalies with a 2.15 goals-against average and .920 save percentage or better over the past three regular seasons combined (minimum 100 outings). Cory Schneider, Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist are the others.

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NHL.COM FANTASY HOCKEY COVERAGE
Pete Jensen's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
Matt Cubeta's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
Matt Sitkoff's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
30 in 30 fantasy hockey preview index
Goalie battles: SJS | ANA | STL | MIN | CAR
Offseason top 200 fantasy hockey ranks

OFFSEASON FANTASY RANKINGS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Evgeni Malkin
5. alex Ovechkin

CUBETA & JENSEN'S COMPLETE RANKINGS