Imagine Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals breaks the single-season wins mark and does not finish as the most valuable fantasy goalie of 2015-16.
It may sound crazy, but it's not that far-fetched.
That's because Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning is putting together the most well-rounded fantasy season at his position in terms of standard-league category coverage. Entering Friday, Bishop is 31-19-4 with a 2.02 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and five shutouts in 55 games.
He's sixth in Yahoo's performance-based rankings behind only skaters Patrick Kane, Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn, Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski. Holtby leads the NHL with 44 wins in 59 games, but has an inferior GAA (2.25), SV% (.921) and shutout total (two) compared to Bishop.
This is not the first time Bishop has put forth an elite fantasy performance; he posted 40 wins (fourth in NHL) with a 2.32 GAA, .916 SV% and four shutouts last season. The Lightning finished first in the NHL with 3.16 goals per game in the 2014-15 regular season before advancing to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. Such a high-powered offense helped Bishop rack up many wins for fantasy owners.
But this season has been a much different story on several levels. The Lightning are scoring 2.73 goals per game through 73 games, tied for 10th in the League. But the wins category has been the only one in which Bishop has taken a step back. His peripherals are the best in the NHL; he ranks second in GAA and SV% among goalies with more than 15 games played and tied for second in shutouts.
Similar to Bishop and the Lightning last season, the Capitals are second in the League in goals per game this season (3.15). Holtby is still having an all-world season and has reaffirmed his status as an elite fantasy goalie after a 2014-15 breakout, but the offensive support of Washington's deep roster is a big reason why he's challenging the wins record set by Martin Brodeur (48) in 2006-07.
Video: TBL@ARI: Bishop makes 31 saves for 30th win of season
Their average draft positions in Yahoo leagues entering this season are comparable (Holtby: 24.5; Bishop: 27.7). Through late March, each has lived up to the lofty expectations, but Bishop's well-rounded prowess stands out from the rest of the pack.
Let's compare Bishop's season to two of the best goalie campaigns in the past five seasons, Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12 (35-21-13, 1.95, .929, 10 SO in 69 games) and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens in 2014-15 (44-16-6, 1.96, .933, nine SO in 66 games). Bishop's GAA and SV% are comparable to those of Quick and Price. He has fewer shutouts than each, but has a chance to reach Quick's wins total with nine games remaining in the regular season for Tampa Bay.
In terms of even-strength SV%, Bishop's rate this season (.934) is behind Price's from last season (.942) but slightly better than Quick's in 2011-12 (.933).
As far as goal support, the Kings finished 29th in the League with 2.29 goals per game in the 2011-12 season. The Canadiens had 2.61 goals per game (20th) last season, another reason Price's season stands out as the best in recent memory.
But Bishop's heroics are flying under the radar because of his wins total, which ranks tied for seventh in the NHL. The Lightning have dealt with a ton of injuries this season, as well as the Jonathan Drouin suspension, Steven Stamkos' pending free agency and their significant dip in scoring. Bishop's individual improvements quietly have Tampa Bay in position to win the Atlantic Division and push for another trip to the Stanley Cup Final.