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In the Cage: The Markstrom Era begins in Florida

Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 12:20 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

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In the Cage: The Markstrom Era begins in Florida
NHL.com fantasy goalie guru Justin Goldman feels Jacob Markstrom is primed to have a breakout second half of the season for the Panthers.

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.

Jacob Markstrom
Goalie - FLA
RECORD: 1-2-0
GAA: 2.36 | SVP: 0.931
With Justin Peters and Keith Kinkaid making their season debuts Tuesday night, 15 teams have now used at least three goalies this season. Of those 16 goalies (Calgary has used two), we're sounding the fantasy alarm on one we feel is primed to have a breakout in the second half of the season.

Jacob Markstrom is just one piece of a large shipment of AHL players currently in the Panthers' lineup. But due to the inconsistency of Scott Clemmensen and the possible season-ending injury to Jose Theodore, he not only has a chance to play the majority of the minutes, but to carry the entire team.

During Tuesday night's 4-1 win against Winnipeg, Markstrom, who was the game's second star after stopping 30 of 31 shots, was owned in just 15 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues. As of Thursday morning, he was owned in only 20 percent of leagues.

Whether you're dangerously thin in goal due to injuries, or you just want to bolster your depth in the second half, we suggest you get him while the getting's good. In three games this season, he has a 2.36 goals-against average and .931 save percentage, stopping 95 of 102 shots.

The Panthers may be lacking structure due to so many injuries right now, but with a spark in goal, which is something they've been missing all season, they could quickly discover a newfound chemistry. And while there might be more reliable options available in your league, despite Markstrom's inexperience in the NHL, his high-caliber skills and potential has rightfully labeled him as a future franchise goalie.

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

We understand the apprehension and hesitation to acquire him right away, especially since he's facing the Capitals on Thursday night. If that's the case, play it safe and treat his next game as a trial, let him get more comfortable facing NHL shooters, and then make your decision moving forward.

When it comes to playing in that first stretch of "full-time" NHL action, positioning is the main trait any goalie must have in order to succeed. But since Markstrom has great athleticism to go with a massive 6-foot-6 frame, even if his positioning or angle play does show some holes, he has the reflexes and instincts to thrive.

Therefore, he's more likely to thrive in situations that are uncomfortable, in games where he's facing an elite group of top-six forwards, or when his defense gives up numerous odd-man rushes. Furthermore, with a win under his belt, he has more faith and confidence from his coaching staff than ever before.

There's no way to predict what Markstrom's fantasy impact will be in the second half of the condensed season, but due to injuries, he's here to stay. So if there's ever a time to get in on the ground floor with a potential hidden gem, that time is right now.

TRENDING UPWARD

1. Henrik Lundqvist – Rangers: With three straight wins, Lundqvist's game is finally coming around. He has allowed just five goals during this winning streak, stopping 75 of 80 shots. Buy with six of New York's next eight games on the road, he'll be tested; he has just one win in five games away from home (1-3-1).

2. Braden Holtby – Capitals: Many goalies can manufacture short bursts of strong play during a season. But lengthy streaks of consistent play are much tougher to produce. But Holtby is doing just that, going 7-3-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 10 straight starts for Washington. In his last two games, he has stopped 65 of 68 shots (.956), including his third shutout of the season.

3. Jimmy Howard – Red Wings: Going 3-1-1 in his last five games, Howard is coming off two of his best games of his season. He stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago on Sunday, and then stopped 36 shots in a 2-1 win against Colorado on Tuesday. He has allowed just four goals in his last three games, and seven goals in his last five games.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

1. Carey Price – Canadiens: In February, Price was 7-2-2 with a 1.87 GAA and .925 save percentage, allowing just 21 goals on 279 shots. In his first two games this month, Price has already allowed 12 goals on just 59 shots (0-1-1). Those two games have dropped his save percentage from a .925 mark to just .908 overall, so he clearly has some catching up to do over the next week.

2. Roberto Luongo – Canucks: With 12 goals allowed on his last 52 shots (0-2), and with Cory Schneider playing three of Vancouver's last four games, Luongo has been devaluing rosters for the past two weeks. He's also just 2-2-1 with a 2.91 GAA and .883 save percentage on the road, where the Canucks will play their next three games, including tonight in Columbus.

3. Jaroslav Halak – Blues: Tuesday night's loss to the Kings was a disaster for Halak. He relinquished a 4-1 lead and was pulled in the third period after allowing five goals on 21 shots. He's just 2-2-1 since returning from injury back on Feb. 20, allowing 10 goals on 61 shots. With a .884 save percentage in 10 appearances this season, he's merely a ghost of last season's fantasy value.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

Jake Allen – Blues: After Halak blew a three-goal lead against the Kings on Tuesday night, the Blues decided to recall Allen from Peoria…again. In his first recall stint, Allen went 3-1-0 in with a 2.62 GAA and .895 save percentage, but his game progressed with each start he made. More importantly, he sparked the Blues to rebound from a weak stretch once before, so tonight he'll get a chance to do it again.

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