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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Giving thanks to backups

by Justin Goldman

Every week during the season, fantasy hockey correspondent Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with in-depth goalie analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Goldman will be your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.


Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, so we felt Friday was a perfect time to give our own thanks to a legion of talented backup goaltenders that have provided strong fantasy value so far this season.

For quick reference, we've included a handy table of all the backups that have accumulated between 200 and 550 minutes of playing time.

Overall, these 24 backups have gone a combined 67-58-19 with 10 shutouts and a .907 save percentage, stopping 4,061 of 4,476 total shots. Considering the fact that there have been 332 games played in the NHL this season (through Thursday night), they're accounting for just over one-fifth (20.2 percent) of the League's victories.


The 2014-15 NHL season is in full swing, so has you covered with weekly fantasy hockey positional rankings, real-time spin updates and waiver wire advice.

At the top of the list you will find the likes of Jake Allen (St. Louis Blues), Karri Ramo (Calgary Flames), Robin Lehner (Ottawa Senators), and Devan Dubnyk (Arizona Coyotes).

Allen's fantasy value is destined to reach new heights after Brian Elliott sustained a lower-body injury on Tuesday against Ottawa. The 24-year-old rookie relinquished a 2-0 lead in the 3-2 shootout loss, but he still has a .922 even-strength save percentage and two shutouts in nine games. He's also 3-1-0 with a .937 save percentage on the road, where the Blues will play four of their next five games.

Ramo has only played four times in November, but after being pulled in Florida back on Nov. 8, he has rattled off three straight wins, including a 32-save shutout Wednesday in San Jose.

Maybe the biggest surprise of all the backups has been Dubnyk (5-0-1). After bouncing around from Edmonton to Nashville to Montreal, Dubnyk has seized a cushy backup role in Arizona under the guidance of Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke.

With a resurging confidence, and combined with the struggles of Mike Smith (4-11-2, .893 save percentage), Dubnyk's fantasy value is on the rise.

Dubnyk is a perfect 4-0 in November, all while facing an average of 37.25 shots per game. Similar to Allen, he's also thriving on the road, going 4-0-1 with a .927 save percentage. He'll also likely get another chance to exact revenge against his former team on Monday in Edmonton, where he stopped 33 of 34 shots in a 2-1 win back on Nov. 16. And he's owned in just 21 percent of Yahoo Fantasy leagues.

Devan Dubnyk
RECORD: 5-0-1
GAA: 2.34 | SVP: .926
When evaluating these 24 backups, you will notice that the accompanying table does not include seven "replacements" that have been thrust into action in Anaheim, Colorado, Columbus, Chicago, Detroit, New Jersey, and San Jose.

These goalies are all considered third-stringers, but as a whole, this group has performed very well, proving that goaltending depth in the NHL keeps getting stronger.

Keith Kinkaid (New Jersey Devils), Petr Mrazek (Detroit Red Wings), Anton Forsberg (Columbus Blue Jackets), Troy Grosenick (San Jose Sharks), Jason LaBarbera (Anaheim Ducks), Scott Darling (Chicago Blackhawks), and Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche) are a combined 8-7-1 in 19 games, stopping 429 of 468 shots (one shutout). That's a tidy .917 save percentage, which is just above the League average (.914).

Pickard, a 22-year-old rookie, is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Colorado. Owned in just six percent of Yahoo Fantasy leagues, he made 72 consecutive saves over the span of 108:28 minutes before finally allowing a power-play goal to Jonathan Toews in the second period of a 3-2 loss Tuesday to Chicago. He's not only the first goalie in NHL history to earn his first two wins in relief in consecutive games, but he accomplished this while the Avalanche are missing some key players, including John Mitchell, Erik Johnson, Jamie McGinn, and Ryan Wilson.

Combined with the likes of more reliable assets like Martin Jones (Los Angeles Kings), Dustin Tokarski (Montreal Canadiens) and Thomas Greiss (Pittsburgh Penguins), Pickard is a perfect example of a growing trend across the League. Regardless of age or experience, backups and third-stringers are performing well enough to create a more even distribution of playing time.

And that's something to truly be thankful for if you ever run into injury issues with your own starting goalies.

Record Minutes Save percentage
Games played
Robin Lehner 5-3-1 549 .918 9
Karri Ramo 5-2-1 519 .911 9
Jake Allen 6-2-1 510 .920 9
Viktor Fasth 2-5-2 498 .900 10
Ray Emery 4-3-1 474 .898 8
James Reimer 4-3-0 461 .898 9
Chad Johnson 5-2-0 450 .876 8
Curtis McElhinney 1-5-1 427 .887 8
Niklas Svedberg 3-3-0 414 .913 8
Devan Dubnyk 5-0-1 385 .926 7
Niklas Backstrom 3-2-0 382 .914 7
Anton Khudobin 0-4-2 364 .898 6
Eddie Lack 1-3-1 364 .894 7
Justin Peters 2-3-1 362 .882 6
Reto Berra 2-2-1 353 .883 9
Dustin Tokarski 3-2-0 329 .919 6
Martin Jones 2-2-1 322 .938 6
Michael Hutchinson 4-1-1 321 .947 7
Alex Stalock (IR) 2-2-1 303 .925 5
Al Montoya 1-1-1 271 .926 6
Cam Talbot 1-2-1 266 .908 5
Evgeni Nabokov 2-3-0 259 .870 5
Thomas Greiss 2-1-1 244 .924 4
John Gibson (IR) 2-2-0 237 .927 4

Jaroslav Halak
RECORD: 11-4-0
GAA: 2.20 | SVP: .923

Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders

During his current eight-game winning streak, the red-hot Slovak has posted a 1.21 goals-against average, a .953 save percentage, and three shutouts. On the season, he is a perfect 5-0 in games that go past regulation, including 3-0 in the shootout.


Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes

Just when you thought Ward was starting to turn a corner this season, he goes and loses four of his past five games, allowing 14 goals on 154 shots. He is now just 2-6-0 with a .891 save percentage on the road.


Martin Brodeur, UFA

Due to Elliott's week-to-week lower-body injury, the Blues have invited Brodeur to practice (via a tryout) with the team starting Friday. While no contract is currently in place, Brodeur could be signed at any time to provide veteran support to Allen.


These modified re-rankings are a projection of a goalie's fantasy output for the entire season. Our ranks are based on volume categories like games played, wins, saves, goals-against average (GAA) and save percentage (SV%). 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 Pekka Rinne, NSH (SAME) 16 Jonathan Bernier, TOR (-1)
2 Jonathan Quick, LAK (SAME) 17 Roberto Luongo, FLA (+1)- DTD
3 Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (+1) 18 Corey Crawford, CHI (+3)
4 Ben Bishop, TBL (-1) 19 Braden Holtby, WSH (-2)
5 Tuukka Rask, BOS (SAME) 20 Darcy Kuemper, MIN (+4)
6 Carey Price, MTL (SAME) 21 Jake Allen, STL (+6)
7 Craig Anderson, OTT (+1) 22 Frederik Andersen, ANA (+1)
8 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (+1) 23 Jonas Hiller, CGY (-1)
9 Jaroslav Halak, NYI (+5) 24 Ondrej Pavelec, WPG (-4)
10 Jimmy Howard, DET (+2) 25 Robin Lehner, OTT (+4)
11 Ryan Miller, VAN (-1) 26 Cam Ward, CAR (-1)
12 Kari Lehtonen, DAL (+1) 27 Mike Smith, ARI (-1)
13 Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ (-2) 28 Devan Dubnyk, ARI (SAME)
14 Cory Schneider, NJD (+5) 29 Michael Hutchinson, WPG (NEW)
15 Antti Niemi, SJS (+1) 30 Michal Neuvirth, BUF (NR - IR)

Dropped out: Ben Scrivens

Key injuries: Brian Elliott, Semyon Varlamov, John Gibson, Alex Stalock, Jonas Gustavsson

DTD: Day-to-day; NR - IR: Not ranked last week because of injury


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