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.
The NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday saw an unprecedented 11 members of the goalie union trade places before the 3 p.m. ET deadline. Surprisingly, not a single goalie prospect (American Hockey League or otherwise) was involved in any of the transactions that took place, so a lot of fantasy rosters saw some significant changes.
To reflect on the trade fallout, we selected the top three fantasy goalie "winners" and "losers" and took a look at their potential usage for the remainder of the season.
Eddie Lack, Vancouver Canucks: The Roberto Luongo saga is finally over, so the 26-year-old rookie has a chance to stake his claim as Vancouver's short and long-term starter. Lack was 1-1-1 in February with 70 saves on 72 shots (.972 save percentage), and despite losing his first two starts in March, has allowed just four goals on his past 59 shots (.932 save percentage).
With 18 games remaining and only three back-to-backs, Lack's fantasy value will soar in all volume categories due to his potential to play anywhere from 12 to 15 of those games. Lack also has a 1.91 goals-against average and .930 save percentage at home, where Vancouver plays 10 of its final 18 games. As of late Wednesday night, he was owned in just 35 percent of Yahoo Fantasy leagues.
Ryan Miller, St. Louis Blues: His first two games with St. Louis started with ominous 2-0 deficits, but both resulted in come-from-behind 4-2 wins. Only three times this season had Miller faced less than 25 shots with the Buffalo Sabres, but in his most recent win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, he faced a season-low 17 shots.
The stark adjustment he's currently going through in regards to defensive systems and how he manages the puck with his defensemen could take a few more games, but once he does get comfortable, Miller could easily be a top-10 fantasy goalie down the stretch. The Blues have 21 games remaining (10 at home) and four back-to-back sets, so while Brian Elliott will be used, Miller is clearly one of the big winners of this year's trade deadline.
His ownership in Yahoo leagues soared from 58 percent to 85 percent in less than 72 hours.
Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota Wild: With Niklas Backstrom shut down for the season due to an abdominal injury and Josh Harding still out of the lineup, trade rumors were swirling around Minnesota's goalie situation. But when the Wild acquired Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers, it proved that Kuemper, a sixth-round pick (No. 161) in 2009, had officially earned the confidence of the entire organization.
That confidence was well-earned. Kuemper has started 15 straight games, going 10-2-2 in that span. He's 5-0-1 in his last six games, allowing just 10 goals on 160 shots (.938 save percentage). He's also 6-1-0 at home with a 1.69 GAA and .939 save percentage. The Wild have 20 games remaining and five back-to-back sets, but begin a four-game road trip on Sunday against the Blues. He's currently owned in just 42 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jaroslav Halak, Washington Capitals: It's hard to believe how quickly Halak's fantasy value crashed. He was solid in his final two games for the Blues, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a 1-0 loss to Vancouver on Feb. 26, and then 36 of 38 shots in a 3-2 OT win over the Boston Bruins just before the Olympic break.
But now that he's no longer insulated by the defensive-minded Blues, his value with Washington is an unknown entity. The good news for Halak owners is Braden Holtby was lifted after allowing four goals in a loss Wednesday to the Philadelphia Flyers, and Washington has four more back-to-back sets this season. If Holtby continues to struggle, Halak could earn a lot of playing time.
Reto Berra, Colorado Avalanche: Despite going just 3-3-0 in his final six games for the Calgary Flames, Berra had stopped 133 of 145 shots (.917 save percentage), so he was playing fairly well on a very poor team. But now he's just an insurance policy in case Jean-Sebastien Giguere is hampered by any future nagging back issues.
An unrestricted free agent this summer, the trade to Colorado hurts Berra's short-term fantasy value, but he could be a nice buy-low target in keeper leagues. The time he'll spend with goalie coach Francois Allaire through the end of the season could improve his over-aggressive tactics and result in a new contract as Semyon Varlamov's backup for the 2014-15 campaign.
Tim Thomas, Dallas Stars: He went just 1-4-0 in February with a 3.66 GAA and .876 save percentage, but at least he was playing consistently, earning 11 of the past 13 starts for the Florida Panthers. Now he's expected to play sparingly behind Kari Lehtonen, who has started 13 of Dallas' past 15 games.
1. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes: After posting a .955 save percentage in five games in February (2-2-1), Smith has stopped 49 of 54 shots in his first two games in March, including a 23-save shutout against Vancouver.
2. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets: Bobrovsky allowed just 12 goals on 173 shots in February (a .931 save percentage) and has kicked off March with three straight wins, stopping 76 of 82 shots.
3. Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets: With just one loss in his last five games (3-1-1), Pavelec continues to thrive under Paul Maurice. He has stopped 63 of his last 67 shots and is sporting a .940 save percentage.
2. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals: After winning four straight games surrounding the Olympic break, Holtby has allowed nine goals on his past 54 shots. He was lifted after allowing four goals on 18 shots Wednesday.
3. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators: In his past six games (2-3-1), Anderson has allowed 19 goals on 201 shots, a .909 save percentage. In 23 home games, he now has just a 3.22 GAA and .899 save percentage.
KEEP AN EYE ON …
Joni Ortio, Calgary Flames: With Karri Ramo still recovering from injury and Reto Berra out of the picture, the 22-year-old rookie could get plenty of looks down the stretch. He stopped 22 of 24 shots in his NHL debut (a 2-0 loss to the Kings on Feb. 27) and stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 4-1 win over Ottawa Wednesday.
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 (same)
3. Carey Price, Canadiens (same)
4. Ben Bishop, Lightning (+1)
5. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (+2)
6. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (-2)
7. Antti Niemi, Sharks (-1)
8. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (same)
9. Ryan Miller, Blues (+5)
10. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (+3)
11. Steve Mason, Flyers (-1)
12. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (-1)
13. Jonathan Bernier, Maple Leafs (+2)
14. Jonathan Quick, Kings (+5)
15. Cory Schneider, Devils (+1)
16. Roberto Luongo, Panthers (-4)
17. Mike Smith, Coyotes (+2)
18. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (-1)
19. Darcy Kuemper, Wild (+4)
20. Anton Khudobin, Hurricanes (same)
21. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (same)
22. Ben Scrivens, Oilers (+2)
23. Jaroslav Halak, Capitals (-14)
24. Craig Anderson, Senators (-2)
25. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (same)
26. Eddie Lack, Canucks (NR)
27. Braden Holtby, Capitals (same)
28. Martin Brodeur, Devils (-2)
29. Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders (+1)
30. Alex Stalock, Sharks (NR)
NR: Antti Raanta, Blackhawks (27)
NR: Tim Thomas, Stars (28)
IR: Josh Harding, Wild (9)
IR: Niklas Backstrom, Wild (NR)
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