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In the Cage: It's all about the Benjamins

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

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In the Cage: It's all about the Benjamins
This week's "In the Cage" gauges the long-term viability of backups around the NHL, specifically Ben Bishop in Ottawa and Ben Scrivens in Toronto.

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.

For a backup, opportunities to play more than sparingly are few and far between. Unless the starter is struggling terribly, the best chance a No. 2 goalie will have to showcase his value is when an injury occurs.

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 (+1)
  • 3. Pekka Rinne, Predators (-1)
  • 4. Craig Anderson, Senators (same)
  • 5. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (+1)
  • 6. Antti Niemi, Sharks (+1)
  • 7. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (-2)
  • 8. Jonathan Quick, Kings (+1)
  • 9. Ryan Miller, Sabres (-1)
  • 10. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (NR - IR)
  • 11. Mike Smith, Coyotes (same)
  • 12. Niklas Backstrom, Wild (same)
  • 13. Ilya Bryzgalov, Flyers (-3)
  • 14. Jaroslav Halak, Blues (same)
  • 15. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (NR - IR)
  • 16. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (-3)
  • 17. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (-2)
  • 18. Cam Ward, Hurricanes (-2)
  • 19. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (+1)
  • 20. Cory Schneider, Canucks (-2)
  • 21. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (-2)
  • 22. Braden Holtby, Capitals (+2)
  • 23. Viktor Fasth, Ducks (-1)
  • 24. Devan Dubnyk, Oilers (-3)
  • 25. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (+1)
  • 26. Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders (-3)
  • 27. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (NR - IR)
  • 28. Ray Emery, Blackhawks (-1)
  • 29. Anders Lindback, Lightning (-4)
  • 30. Ben Bishop, Senators (NR)
Goalies that dropped out of previous rankings: Brian Elliott (28), Sergei Bobrovsky (29), Steve Mason (30)

Injured: Martin Brodeur (17), Miikka Kiprusoff (23)

Some backups go years without getting a chance to step into the starter's role (Jonathan Bernier), while others are blessed with that opportunity right away (Braden Holtby). This season, due to so many minor injuries, a bunch of rookies and backups are earning unforeseen chances to increase their fantasy value.

In fact, with Philipp Grubauer making his NHL debut last night, there have now been 12 teams that have used at least three goalies.

For Ben Scrivens and Ben Bishop, their solid play amidst injuries to James Reimer and Craig Anderson has not only elevated their role within their respective organizations, but they have now become ripe for the picking in both one-year and keeper leagues.

On Wednesday night, Bishop was owned in just 29 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues (+13%), while Scrivens was owned by 55 percent of poolies (+3%).

When Anderson injured his ankle against the Rangers last week, Bishop stopped 11 of 13 shots, plus six of seven shootout attempts for the OT win. He followed that up with two wins and 70 saves on 73 shots. Now with four straight wins, he has a 2.17 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in six games.

Scrivens was leaky in last night's 5-2 loss to Montreal, but he has also shown flashes of brilliance. Alternating wins and losses over the past 10 days (3-3-0), he pitched back-to-back shutouts on Feb. 16 and 18. Furthermore, he went 5-3-0 in February with a 1.92 GAA and .940 SV%, and his .932 even-strength SV% is exceptional for a goalie that is only 6-6-0 with a .923 SV%.

It's never easy to project the fantasy value of a backup, especially after they earn a string of starts and then quickly slip back into a supporting role. But both Scrivens and Bishop are 26 years old, so they bring a mentally matured, even-keeled, and steady game compared to most rookies.

We consider Bishop to be more valuable right now since Anderson is still nursing his ankle injury, but less valuable in the long run since Anderson is having a career year. Scrivens' value is the opposite; Reimer was activated off the IR yesterday, but is less experienced as a starter at just 24 years of age.

Regardless of how much they play moving forward, both Bens have taken giant strides in proving they are legitimate full-time NHL goalies. Whether they earn another string of starts this season or next, if you're in a keeper league, both goalies should be near the top of your watch list.

TRENDING UPWARD

1. Jonathan Quick Kings: It's tough to predict how a goalie will play following offseason back surgery, especially in a shortened season. But Quick is clearly regaining last season's form, as he has stopped 70 of 74 shots and allowed just one even-strength goal during a three-game win streak.

2. Braden Holtby Capitals: Despite being pulled in the second period of last night's 4-1 loss to the Flyers, Holtby earned his fifth career shutout in a 3-0 win over Carolina on Tuesday night. He's riding a wave of confidence after signing a new two-year deal, essentially cementing his role as the future of the franchise. He has started seven straight games for the Capitals and was 5-2-0 before last night's loss.

3. Ondrej Pavelec Jets: With four wins in his last five games, Pavelec has stopped 144 of his last 157 shots, a .917 SV%. Those may not seem like high-quality stats, but before this five-game stretch, he had just one win in his previous eight games. Despite the weak stats, he still has a .923 even-strength SV%.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

1. Devan Dubnyk Oilers: Due in part to strong play from Nikolai Khabibulin (placed back on IR on Wednesday), Dubnyk's value crashed last week. He has played just three times since Feb. 12, going 0-2-0 with 10 goals against on 69 shots, and he's just 1-3-2 with a 2.97 GAA in seven games this month. He faces the Stars tonight, a team he is winless against in his career (0-4-1 with a 3.99 GAA and .897 SV%).

Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 7-7-1
GAA: 2.41 | SVP: 0.915
2. Henrik Lundqvist Rangers: We never expected Lundqvist to be an average fantasy goalie 15 games into the season, but with only one win in his last four games, the stats don't lie. It's not all his fault since the Rangers are playing without Rick Nash, but leaky goals over the past three games have led him to post just a 2.41 GAA and .915 SV% this season.

3. Ilya Bryzgalov Flyers: Prior to last night's 4-1 win over the Capitals, Bryzgalov had just a 4.30 GAA and .857 SV% in his previous four games. He was barely tested against the feeble Capitals, so while it's a nice bounce-back win, there's no denying his struggles as of late. He went 7-5-1 with just a 3.08 GAA and .888 SV% in the month of February.

KEEP AN EYE ON …

Jonathan Bernier Kings: Speaking of backups, Bernier was the first star in a 2-1 win over Detroit last night, stopping 32 of 33 shots. He's riding a four-game winning streak and has allowed only one goal in each of those four wins, while allowing just eight goals in five games this season (4-1-0 with a .931 SV%).

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