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In the Cage: Hiller's fantasy value reaches new heights

Thursday, 01.09.2014 / 12:00 PM
Justin Goldman  - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA 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.

Over the past six weeks, Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller has produced one of the best stretches of fantasy value since he was signed as a free agent way back on May 25, 2007.

Currently riding a 12-game winning streak (14-game unbeaten streak), Hiller has not suffered a regulation loss since Nov. 26, when he allowed five goals on 32 shots to the Dallas Stars. Since that game, Hiller has allowed more than two goals in only three games. In each of those games, he allowed just three goals.

Compared to previous winning streaks, in terms of longevity, this one eclipses them all.

Last season, Hiller had an impressive 10-game unbeaten streak, going 8-0-2 from Feb. 18 to March 20. In the 2011-12 season, he strung together nine games without a loss (6-0-3) from Feb. 3-19. In the 2008-09 season, he won seven games in a row, a streak that lasted from March 19 to April 4.

While his current winning streak is mighty impressive, compared to his play on home ice, Hiller's splits on the road are glaring. At home, Hiller is 13-0-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. On the road, however, he is just 8-4-2 with a 2.87 GAA and sub-par .887 save percentage.

Despite the troubling road stats, Hiller is still inching toward being one of the top 10 goalies to own in a keeper and one-year fantasy league. Heading into a game Thursday against the Nashville Predators, he has 154 career wins in 306 total games, and his 94 wins since the start of the 2010-11 season puts him in elite company with goalies like Roberto Luongo (96), Pekka Rinne (97), and Jonathan Quick (99).

An unrestricted free agent at season's end, Hiller is looking to land a big contract extension with the only organization he has ever played for. The native of Felben Wellhausen, Switzerland is also preparing to repeat his success on the Olympic stage.

In the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Hiller posted a 2.47 GAA and .918 save percentage in five games. Only two goalies faced more shots than him (159); Slovakia's Jaroslav Halak (190 shots in seven games) and Latvia's Edgars Masalskis (170 shots in four games).

Hiller's top two performances also happened to come against two powerhouses, Canada and the United States.

In a 3-2 shootout loss to Canada, he stopped 44 of 47 shots, including all 18 he faced in the third period. He then denied Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Ryan Getzlaf in the first three rounds of the shootout. Crosby got his revenge, however, and scored in the fourth round to earn the win for Canada.

In the quarterfinals against the U.S., Hiller stopped 18 shots in the first period, 14 more in the second, and then finally relinquished a goal to Zach Parise at the 2:08 mark of the third period. He finished with 42 saves on 43 shots as the U.S. added an empty-netter and won the game, 2-0.

Leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Hiller was excellent for the Ducks. In January, he was 9-4-0 with a 2.37 GAA and .925 save percentage. In February, he was 5-2-0 with a 2.44 GAA and .933 save percentage before finally donning the red and white jersey for Switzerland.

We could dedicate an entire article to the fantasy value produced by top starters in the final year of their contracts, but either way, Hiller is currently proving he's on the positive end of that spectrum.

Furthermore, Hiller is the only goalie in the Ducks organization with playoff experience. His .935 save percentage in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games (10-10 with three shutouts) will be a keystone as the best team in the league prepares for what is expected to be a legit run at the Cup.

If Hiller can sustain his play between now and the Olympic break, Anaheim may have no other choice but to secure his services with a multi-year deal before the playoff push gets underway.

TRENDING UPWARD

1. Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues: Kicking off 2014 with three straight wins, Elliott has stopped 78 of his past 82 shots, including a 30-save shutout against the Kings. He was also 6-0-1 in December with a 1.67 GAA.

2. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres: After posting a 1.82 GAA and .948 save percentage in eight games in December (5-2-1), Miller has continued to play well with 49 saves on his past 53 shots, a .924 save percentage.

3. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Now that the rehab is over, Quick’s value is rising. He stopped 27 shots in a 2-1 win against Vancouver in his first game since Nov. 12, and has allowed two goals in his past two games.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

1. Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets: With two wins in his past 12 appearances, Pavelec’s value has hit rock bottom. He has allowed 10 goals on his past 67 shots and has a .909 even-strength save percentage this season.

2. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes: Team Canada’s third goalie was inconsistent through the holidays with only three wins in his past 12 games. He has allowed six goals on his past 58 shots, a .897 save percentage.

3. Ben Scrivens, Los Angeles Kings: With Quick back in the lineup, Scrivens’ workload is expected to plummet. He is 1-3-0 in his past five appearances, allowing 14 goals on 142 shots, a .901 save percentage.

KEEP AN EYE ON …

Anton Khudobin, Carolina Hurricanes: Since returning from a lengthy groin injury, Khudobin has won three straight games, stopping 107 of 113 shots. He is 5-0-0 with a 1.99 GAA and .940 save percentage.

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. Carey Price, Canadiens (same)

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (+1)

4. Antti Niemi, Sharks (-1)

5. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (same)

6. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (+3)

7. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (same)

8. Steve Mason, Flyers (same)

9. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (+2)

10. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (same)

11. Jonathan Bernier, Maple Leafs (+3)

12. Ryan Miller, Sabres (+5)

13. Jaroslav Halak, Blues (same)

14. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (IR)

15. Mike Smith, Coyotes (-3)

16. Martin Brodeur, Devils (+3)

17. Jonathan Quick, Kings (IR)

18. Antti Raanta, Blackhawks (+4)

19. Ben Scrivens, Kings (-4)

20. Cory Schneider, Devils (-2)

21. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (IR)

22. Craig Anderson, Senators (+4)

23. Braden Holtby, Capitals (-7)

24. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (IR)

25. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (-3)

26. Jonas Gustavsson, Red Wings (-3)

27. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (-7)

28. Anton Khudobin, Hurricanes (IR)

29. Marek Mazanec, Predators (NR)

30. Tim Thomas, Panthers (IR)

NR: Ilya Bryzgalov, Oilers (27)

NR: Robin Lehner, Senators (25)

NR: Justin Peters, Hurricanes (24)

NR: Martin Jones, Kings (29)

IR: Josh Harding, Wild (9)

IR: Ben Bishop, Lightning (6)

IR: Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders (30)

IR: Cam Ward, Hurricanes (28)

IR: Pekka Rinne, Predators (10)

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