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In the Cage: Mason's fantasy value rising with Flyers

Thursday, 10.31.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

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In the Cage: Mason's fantasy value rising with Flyers
Fantasy owners still may be skeptical, but Steve Mason has upped his game since joining the Flyers and is looking like a viable option.

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.

Steve Mason
Goalie - PHI
RECORD: 3-6-0
GAA: 2.25 | SVP: 0.928
With a slew of injuries to key starters like Pekka Rinne, Cam Ward and Devan Dubnyk over the past few weeks, doors have opened wide for Cam Talbot, Justin Peters, Richard Bachman and Frederik Andersen to establish their NHL careers. In fact, eight teams have already needed to rely on a third goaltender at some point this season, a truly spooky number that could hit double-digits in the next week.

But that trend hasn't overshadowed the rising fantasy value of Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason.

In the previous four seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Mason was one of the most frustrating goalies for fantasy players to own. Known as the goalie that won the Calder Trophy primarily due to coach Ken Hitchcock’s defensive system, after his rookie season he posted goals-against averages of 3.06, 3.03, 3.39, and 2.95 (prior to being traded), respectively.

Due to his inconsistency, Mason was drafted in 11 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues this season, averaging out as the 162nd pick. Even after his strong start, he's owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues, which proves many people still are quite hesitant to add him.

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. Antti Niemi, Sharks (same)
  • 2. Tuukka Rask, Bruins (same)
  • 3. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (same)
  • 4. Carey Price, Canadiens (+3)
  • 5. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (same)
  • 6. Mike Smith, Coyotes (-2)
  • 7. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (+1)
  • 8. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (+2)
  • 9. Jonathan Quick, Kings (-3)
  • 10. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (+1)
  • 11. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (-2)
  • 12. Jaroslav Halak, Blues (+2)
  • 13. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (+2)
  • 14. Craig Anderson, Senators (-2)
  • 15. Ryan Miller, Sabres (-2)
  • 16. Steve Mason, Flyers (+5)
  • 17. Braden Holtby, Capitals (-1)
  • 18. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (-1)
  • 19. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (same)
  • 20. Jonathan Bernier, Leafs (-2)
  • 21. Ben Bishop, Lightning (+2)
  • 22. Josh Harding, Wild (+2)
  • 23. Niklas Backstrom, Wild (+2)
  • 24. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (+6)
  • 25. Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders (+1)
  • 26. J-S Giguere, Avalanche (+3)
  • 27. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (+1)
  • 28. Martin Brodeur, Devils (NR)
  • 29. Frederik Andersen, Ducks (NR)
  • 30. Jacob Markstrom, Panthers (NR)
Injured: Pekka Rinne, Predators (10), Cory Schneider, Devils (20), Cam Ward, Hurricanes (22), Devan Dubnyk, Oilers (27), Tim Thomas, Panthers (NR), Viktor Fasth, Ducks (NR), Anton Khudobin, Hurricanes (NR)

That said, now might be the perfect time to take the leap. He either makes a great buy-low/sell-high candidate, or he fills a gap when an injury occurs.

Despite a 3-6-0 record this season, Mason has yet to allow more than three goals in a game and has finished every start. Combined with his eighth-best .928 save percentage is an impressive .939 power-play save percentage, which is second in the NHL to the Ottawa Senators' Robin Lehner (.974) for any goalie that has faced 30-plus power-play shots.

And in 16 games with the Flyers dating to last season, he has a 2.11 GAA and .935 save percentage.

Another factor that stands out is Mason's play in his losses. He has allowed 16 goals in the six losses, while seven of his nine games are considered quality starts (a .912 save percentage or above). Despite losing 3-2 to the Ducks on Tuesday, Mason once again was considered the Flyers' best player, facing 16 third-period shots and finishing with 34 saves. He was voted the game's Second Star.

Mason's sample size with the Flyers remains quite small, but at 25 years of age, he's starting to show signs of a goalie that is transforming into a more reliable asset. We agree that it still may be too early to jump on him -- 16 games don't absolve four seasons of frustration -- but a change of scenery always will open the door for a goalie to clean the slate and reverse bad results.

Keep that in mind if you're currently dealing with the nightmarish fantasy results of Ryan Miller.

TRENDING UPWARD

1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: In his past three games Price has stopped 92 of 96 shots. He won two of those games and allowed one goal in each win. He's 6-5-0 this season but entering games Thursday has the third-most saves in the League (338) and is sporting a .939 save percentage, which is good for sixth.

2. James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs: Although he has played twice since Oct. 17, Reimer is making Toronto's tandem an impenetrable force. He posted a 43-save shutout Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers and has stopped 81 of 82 shots in his past three games. He's now 4-0-0 this season with a .949 save percentage.

3. Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks: The 24-year-old Danish goaltender is 3-0-0 to begin his NHL career, stopping 68 of 72 shots. Viktor Fasth may return to the lineup soon, but Andersen has proven that he's NHL-ready, which might push the Ducks to trade a goalie sooner rather than later.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

1. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: Last week Rinne was trending up after allowing three goals in his previous three games (1-1-1). But after running a fever following a 1-0 loss to Minnesota last Tuesday, he was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in his hip and will be sidelined him for at least a month.

2. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres: Through 10 games this season Miller has one win. Despite a .936 save percentage in four road games and being the best player on the team, he has allowed 12 goals in his last three losses.

3. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators: Anderson has allowed 13 goals on 97 shots in three straight losses. In the first month of play following the lockout last season he was one of the toughest goalies to beat in the first period. This month 14 of his 29 goals-against have come in the first.

KEEP AN EYE ON …

Cam Talbot, New York Rangers: Most American Hockey League goalies earn recalls due to injuries. But when Martin Biron retired the Rangers were confident Talbot was NHL-ready. The 26-year-old has a .929 save percentage, having allowed just two goals in each of his three starts (2-1-0). He's owned in three percent of Yahoo leagues.

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