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Fantasy: Goalie time-shares to keep eye on

Penguins, Islanders, Red Wings among teams that could split starts in net

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

Figuring out which goaltender to draft is always a concern in fantasy leagues. Unlike scorers, they aren't a dime a dozen. Sure, injuries can occur or someone can emerge in goal, but realistically there are only a handful of goalie changes each season.

The best strategy is obviously to draft two starters, but that's not always doable. Avoiding goalies who likely will partake in time-shares, or at least making sure you have both of them, is also a good strategy, as to not lose starts.

With the season less than three months away and drafts getting closer, here's a look at some time-share situations worth monitoring:

Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

This is perhaps the most intriguing goalie situation heading into this season. Do the Penguins go with Fleury, who is their all-time leader in wins (357; third in the League among active goalies) and who has at least 34 in each of the past seven full NHL seasons, or Murray, who helped them win the Stanley Cup last season? Fleury, 31, was selected with the first pick in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Penguins and has often been one of their more important players. But injuries have forced him to miss time, creating an opportunity for Murray, who has made the most of it.   

NHL.com Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen has Murray ranked No. 59 overall and Fleury at No. 99. Murray, who went 9-2-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 13 starts, and 15-6 with a 2.08 GAA and .923 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, has the higher upside, so the ranking is justified. The 22-year-old has yet to lose back-to-back games in the regular season or playoffs and likely is the Penguins goalie of the future. It's a safe bet that barring an injury to Murray, Fleury won't get 30 wins this season, and the two could split games rather evenly. The Penguins have 15 sets of back-to-back games this season.    

Video: TBL@NYI: Berube robs Palat with point-blank save

Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss and J.F. Berube, New York Islanders

The only thing worse than a time-share between two goalies is one involving three, which is what the Islanders had last season and could have again this season, especially if all three remain healthy and on the roster.

Halak, 31, was 18-13-4 with a 2.30 GAA and .919 save percentage in 34 starts last season but missed the final month and the playoffs because of a groin injury. Greiss, 30, was the better of the two, going 23-11-4 with a 2.36 GAA and a .925 save percentage in 38 starts during the regular season, and a 2.48 GAA and .923 save percentage in 11 playoff games. Greiss allowed two goals or fewer in 25 of 41 appearances and should be drafted first among Islanders goalies. He proved he can handle a tough workload and would only benefit if Halak is traded prior to the season.

If that happens, third-string J.F. Berube, 25, would get a bump to the backup job. He was 3-2-1 with a 2.71 GAA and a .914 save percentage in seven games as a rookie, often a healthy scratch. With 15 sets of back-to-back games, it's likely Halak and Greiss would split those. Greiss is the better option of the three goalies.

Video: DET@TBL, Gm5: Mrazek gloves Garrison's one-timer

Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

There has clearly been a change of the guard atop the Red Wings' goalie depth chart. Mrazek started 26 games in 2014-15 and Howard started 50; those numbers were almost reversed last season with Mrazek making 49 starts and Howard 33. Mrazek struggled toward the end of last season but went 27-16-6 with a 2.33 GAA, .921 save percentage and four shutouts. He could be in line for 60+ starts after showing he was capable and with Howard beginning to decline.

Howard, 32, was 14-14-5 with a 2.80 GAA and .906 save percentage and had the fewest wins, highest goals-against average and lowest save percentage of his NHL career. You could argue Howard shouldn't be owned as a handcuff to Mrazek, since his numbers have declined and he may not start more than 20 games. But with 16 sets of back-to-back games, Mrazek will need a rest at some point.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm5: Neuvirth robs Beagle with left skate

Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason, Philadelphia Flyers

Although Mason started more games (53) than Neuvirth (29), the Flyers didn't really have a No. 1 goalie last season. Neuvirth had shutouts in his first two starts and three in his first six, which gave coach Dave Hakstol confidence that he could use him more. Neuvirth was better than Mason, going 18-8-4 with a 2.27 GAA and a .924 save percentage; Mason was 23-19-10 with a 2.51 GAA and a .918 save percentage.

Hakstol wasn't afraid to use whichever goalie was playing better at the time, and that's one reason to expect Neuvirth to play more than 32 games. Don't forget, he started 44 games for the Washington Capitals in 2010-11 and 30 the following season, so he's proven he can handle more playing time. Expect Mason to begin the season in goal but Neuvirth should swoop in at the first sign of Mason struggling. The Flyers have 18 back-to-back games -- tied for third most in the League -- so each should see plenty of time. The smart play would be to draft both or neither of them.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm6: Lehtonen's late saves ensure Stars' win

Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars

This will likely be the most frustrating goalie tandem in the League. Both Niemi and Lehtonen each won 25 games splitting starts last season (43 for Niemi, 39 for Lehtonen), but unfortunately, wins is the only category they cover. Niemi had a 2.67 GAA, .905 save percentage and three shutouts; Lehtonen had a 2.76 GAA, .906 save percentage and two shutouts. Each is making over $4.5 million per season and has two years remaining on his contract, so it would be hard to trade either of them.

The Stars ranked first with 3.23 goals per game and were tied for 19th in goals against per game (2.78). The defense isn't necessarily to blame for the struggle of the goalies, who weren't much better in the playoffs. Lehtonen had a 2.81 GAA and .899 save percentage in 11 games, and Niemi had a 3.29 GAA and .865 save percentage in five games. Dallas has 10 back-to-back games, the fewest in the League, but the bottom line is, stay away from both of them. There are better options out there.

Video: WPG@LAK: Pavelec sprawls out to rob Kopitar in OT

Ondrej Pavelec, Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, Winnipeg Jets

The Jets were one of two teams (Buffalo Sabres) last season to have at least three goalies make 20-plus starts. Pavelec made 31 (13-13-4, 2.78 GAA, .904 save percentage), Hellebuyck made 26 (13-11-1, 2.34 GAA, .918 save percentage) and Hutchinson made 25 (9-15-3, 2.84 GAA, .907 save percentage). Pavelec, 28, is in the final year of his contract; Hutchinson, 26, has two years remaining; and Hellebuyck, 23, is entering the final year of his entry-level contract.

Chances are Pavelec won't be re-signed after the season; he will make $4.75 million, according to General Fanager, a hefty price tag for a mediocre goalie, plus Winnipeg likely views Hellebuyck as the long-term option in net. That being said, he'll begin the season with Manitoba of the American Hockey League with Pavelec and Hutchinson splitting time for the Jets. Hellebuyck is the only one of the three worth owning, especially if you're in a keeper league. It's also more than likely he'll get called up at some point this season.

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