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Fantasy goalie takeaways from preseason

Robin Lehner, Semyon Varlamov impressive, Marc-Andre Fleury gains value

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

After 15 days and 106 NHL preseason games, the regular season is set to begin on Wednesday. That means fantasy drafts will be taking place, and it's never too late for a last-minute cram session.

There were numerous goalies who surprised in preseason and, although it was only preseason and not always against NHL players, it's still worth considering drafting several of these players who have upside.

MORE PRESEASON TAKEAWAYS: FORWARD | D-MAN

Here are 10 goalies who are trending up following the conclusion of the preseason (listed in alphabetical order):

Brian Elliott, Calgary Flames

The Flames' new No. 1 goalie played in three games, going 2-0-0 and allowing two goals on 52 shots (0.83 GAA, .962 SV%). Elliott may not have as good a defensive team in front of him as he did with the St. Louis Blues, but he could still set career highs in games played (55 in 2009-10) and wins (29, '09-'10). Keep in mind, his career GAA is 2.40 and his save percentage is .914.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

Fleury may not have played well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season or the preseason (1-3-0, 3.33 GAA, .883 SV%), but he's trending upwards because the job is his for at least the first month of the season with Matt Murray out after he broke his hand at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. Fleury had the lowest GAA (2.29) and tied the highest SV% (.921) of his career last season. The eight-time 30-game winner should win at least 20 games this season and be drafted before the injured Murray.

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Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, Winnipeg Jets

The Jets have waived veteran goalie Ondrej Pavelec, opening the door for Hellebuyck and/or Hutchinson to become fantasy relevant. Despite allowing five goals on 34 shots in his preseason finale on Saturday, Hutchinson played three full games (2-1-0) and allowed eight goals on 97 shots (2.68 GAA, .918 SV%). Hellebuyck, who was 1-1-0 with six goals allowed on 60 shots faced in the preseason, went from outside NHL.com's top 200 (204th) to the 134th ranked player after this surprising roster development. He won 13 of 26 games as a rookie with strong peripherals and finally has the window of opportunity to become the full-time starter for the Jets, who are loaded with young forward talent.

Carter Hutton, St. Louis Blues

Acquired as an insurance policy in case starter Jake Allen were to get injured, Hutton may see action sooner than later; Allen left a preseason game Saturday with an apparent injury and did not return. Allen is still slated to start the Blues' season opener, but injury concerns surround his value. Hutton went 2-2-1 with a 2.05 GAA and .931 SV% this preseason. Hutton was impressive last season backing up Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators; he was 15-7-5 with a 2.33 GAA, .918 SV% and two shutouts. Be sure to handcuff Hutton if you own Allen.

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Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres

In three preseason games, Lehner went 3-0-0 and allowed four goals in 181 minutes (1.33 GAA, .960 SV%), including a shutout. This is great news for the Sabres and Lehner owners, who are hoping he can rebound from an ankle injury which caused him to miss significant time last season. He also entered camp leaner, having lost around 40 pounds (he was listed at 240 pounds to begin last season).

Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

Canucks general manager said this offseason that Miller is the guy, despite his poor play in recent seasons. Miller had a 2.70 GAA last season, winning 17 of 51 starts, and has a 2.62 GAA and 46 wins in 96 starts in his two seasons in Vancouver. The 36-year-old isn't getting any younger, but Miller made his preseason games count, going 1-0-1 with a 1.94 GAA and a .931 SV%.

Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Rask had a 27-save shutout in a 1-0 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, concluding his preseason 1-1-0 with four goals allowed on 53 shots (1.98 GAA, .925 SV%). The former Vezina Trophy winner likely won't finish among the top 10 goalies, but he is a workhorse who has played at least 64 games in each of the past two seasons. Rask had the second highest GAA (2.56) and second worst save percentage (.918) of his career last season, numbers which should improve this season.

Mike Smith, Arizona Coyotes

In four preseason games, Smith was 2-0-1 with a 1.61 GAA, .950 save percentage and has allowed six goals on 120 shots. That's a good sign, since Smith was limited to 32 games last season because of core muscle surgery (15-13-2, 2.63 GAA, .916 SV%). His backup, Louis Domingue, has impressed as well (2-0-1, 2.83 GAA, .926 SV%).

Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche

Colorado went 6-0-0 in preseason, and both Varlamov and Calvin Pickard were solid. After struggling last season, Varlamov went 3-0-0 and allowed two goals on 91 shots in three full preseason games (0.67 GAA, .978 SV%). Pickard had a shutout as well (1-0-0, 1.20 GAA, .962 SV%) for Colorado, which has locked down defensively, allowing seven goals in six preseason games before .

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Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes

In three games, Ward went 2-1-0 and allowed four goals on 68 shots (1.45 GAA, .941 SV%). He'll likely start the season ahead of Eddie Lack as the No. 1 goalie. Ward should make around 55 starts and win more than 20 games. His career GAA is high (2.70), his save percentage low (.910) and he doesn't get many shutouts (23 in 551 starts), but if you want to wait to draft a goalie, Ward should be available in the late rounds, or even on the waiver wire.

WORTH NOTING

Tristian Jarry, who will serve as Fleury's backup in Pittsburgh with Murray out, had two shutouts, stopping all 54 shots he faced in two preseason games (120 minutes). ... Chicago Blackhawks backup Scott Darling allowed three goals in three games (147 minutes), good for a 1.22 GAA. ... New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist , a notorious slow starter, helped Team Sweden get to the semifinals at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, but didn't look good in his two preseason games. He was 0-1-0 and allowed five goals on 49 shots (.898 SV%) in 90 minutes. ... In five games, Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot looked rusty. He allowed 12 goals on 82 shots (.854 SV%) and finished with a 3.27 GAA. ... Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi was 2-0-0 with a 1.83 GAA and .941 SV% in 164 minutes, although it's unclear if he or Kari Lehtonen (0-2-0, 2.42 GAA, .885 SV%) will begin the season as the No. 1 goalie. ... Rinne did not have a good preseason, allowing eight goals in two full games.

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