Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, the Director of Goalie Scouting for McKeen's Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.
The trade deadline is only six days away, and there's sure to be some kind of stir in an otherwise quiet, stagnant goalie market. With that in mind, below are five backups that we feel could be on the move by next Wednesday.
Jonathan Bernier, Kings: The former first-round draft pick has been dealing with trade rumors all season long, yet his focus and consistency has been outstanding. His 7-2-0 record comes with an exclamation point in the form of a 1.94 goals-against average and .923 save percentage, proving his upside as future No. 1 is as clear-cut as ever. But if Bernier is moved, the Kings would need to acquire a decent backup in return, unless they opt to sign journeyman Peter Mannino to a two-way contract.
Michal Neuvirth, Capitals: With the emergence and consistency of Braden Holtby, the former second-round draft pick has been limited to just five appearances since Feb. 1, going 1-2-0 with a .899 save percentage. Despite being stuck in a limited backup role, Neuvirth is known for his excellent positioning and calm, confident demeanor. Neuvirth won back-to-back Calder Cups in 2009 and 2010, setting an AHL playoffs record in 2009 by posting a 1.92 GAA. He's 53-35-10 with a 2.68 GAA and .908 save percentage in 118 NHL games, and at age 25, he still has room to improve and grow into the mold of a consistent 60-game starter.
Ben Bishop, Senators: Once Craig Anderson returns to the lineup, Ottawa will have a three-headed monster in goal. Bishop is a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so they could dangle him as trade bait in return for an asset up front. Robin Lehner is a future elite franchise starting goalie, so the odds are higher that Ottawa will harvest his value for the future and keep him over Bishop, who is riding a current three-game winning streak and has a 2.54 GAA and .923 save percentage in 11 games this season.
Steve Mason, Blue Jackets: As Sergei Bobrovsky continues to gain momentum as a potential Vezina Trophy candidate, Mason continues to become more expendable. Both goalies are restricted free agents this summer, and it is all but written in stone that Mason won't be qualified by Columbus. With his value dropping, a team may be willing to take a chance on the former Calder Trophy winner. We may not see it in the stats, but his game, and more importantly his overall maturity, has vastly improved this season.
Nikolai Khabibulin, Oilers: Forget his age and injury issues, because the "Bulin Wall" still has it. His most recent outing -- a 43-save shutout over the Blues -- proves he still carries value as a 40-year-old. He's a veteran with a Stanley Cup ring, he embraces the backup role, and he's a perfect mentor for a younger starter. Teams like Columbus or Washington may value a guy like Khabibulin down the stretch, and the Oilers have an apt veteran backup in Yann Danis in Oklahoma City ready for the recall.
1. Marc-Andre Fleury -- Penguins: With an 8-0-0 record in March, Fleury has a 1.97 GAA, a .928 save percentage and one shutout, making him one of the most valuable goalies to own. It's unclear how severe his recent neck injury is, but as long as he stays off the IR, his value remains sky high.
2. Cory Schneider -- Canucks: With two shutouts in his last three games, a five-game winning streak, and a 6-1-2 record in his last nine games, Schneider's value is soaring. The lingering rust from playing over in Europe during the lockout has long been washed away, as he has a 1.63 GAA and .940 save percentage this month.
3. Braden Holtby -- Capitals: The last time Holtby posted a save percentage below .900 was eight games ago (March 10). He has three wins, a shutout, and 102 saves on 108 shots (.944) in his past four games. With only 15 games left and just two back-to-back sets, expect him to start at least 10-11 of those games.
1. Devan Dubnyk -- Oilers: Through February, Dubnyk was 6-5-3 with a solid 2.65 GAA and .920 save percentage. But March hasn't been as kind, as he's just 2-5-3 with a 2.82 GAA and .912 save percentage. He only has two wins in his last five games, and his playing time has decreased due to a few starts given to Khabibulin.
2. Viktor Fasth -- Ducks: The 30-year-old rookie was one of the hottest goalies in February, as he went 8-1-0 with a 1.93 GAA and .928 save percentage. But due to the improved play of Jonas Hiller, Fasth has only played in five games in March, and is 2-2-1 with a 3.14 GAA and .907 save percentage.
3. Roberto Luongo - Canucks: As Schneider's value rises, Luongo's falls. He's just 2-3-0 in March with a 3.18 GAA and .882 save percentage and has allowed 24 goals in his last six games. Furthermore, Vancouver only has one more back-to-back set this season, so he may not play more than five games the rest of the way.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Jacob Markstrom -- Panthers: Affectionately referred to as the "Alien" due to his massive frame and freakishly fast feet, Markstrom is starting to find a comfort zone with the Panthers. He's 2-2-0 in his last four games, but has allowed just six goals on 145 shots, a .959 save percentage. He starts tonight against the Sabres.
TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES
These modified re-rankings are a projection of a goalie’s fantasy output for the entire season. Our rankings are based on volume categories like games played, wins, saves, and GAA and SP%. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). It is important to note that our rankings reflect sheer fantasy value, not talent. A less-talented goalie could be ranked higher due to their team’s strong defense and offense.
1. Tuukka Rask, Bruins (same)
2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (+1)
3. Pekka Rinne, Predators (-1)
4. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (same)
5. Carey Price, Canadiens (same)
6. Niklas Backstrom, Wild (+1)
7. Jonathan Quick, Kings (-1)
8. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (+1)
9. Antti Niemi, Sharks (-1)
10. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (same)
11. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (+1)
12. Ryan Miller, Sabres (-1)
13. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (+1)
14. Braden Holtby, Capitals (+3)
15. Cory Schneider, Canucks (+3)
16. Ilya Bryzgalov, Flyers (same)
17. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (+5)
18. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (+2)
19. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (-4)
20. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (+5)
21. Ray Emery, Blackhawks (+3)
22. Jaroslav Halak, Blues (-3)
23. Martin Brodeur, Devils (+3)
24. Viktor Fasth, Ducks (-3)
25. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (-2)
26. Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders (+2)
27. Tomas Vokoun, Penguins (NR)
28. Ben Bishop, Senators (+2)
29. Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames (same)
30. Devan Dubnyk, Oilers (-3)
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