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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Hutchinson evolves into gem

by Evan Sporer /

Every Thursday during the season,'s Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.


Three games played.

Entering this season, that encompassed Michael Hutchinson's NHL resume. The 24-year-old, former third-round pick of the Boston Bruins was entering his fifth year as a professional hockey player. The bulk of that time was spent in the Bruins organization, until Hutchinson signed as a free agent with the Winnipeg Jets following the 2012-13 season.

His career in Winnipeg began by mirroring his time in Boston: Hutchinson spent 28 games in the ECHL with the Ontario Reign and 24 games in St. John's of the American Hockey League. And then, finally, Hutchinson made his NHL debut late last season, accumulating all of his NHL experience.

This doesn't exactly read like the timeline of one the League's hottest and most successful goaltenders, yet that's exactly what Hutchinson has been this season. He is consistently among the top-five League leaders in goals-against average and save percentage after sprinting past incumbent starter Ondrej Pavelec and stealing the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. (Pavelec has technically started more games, but also started 14 of the Jets' first 16 this season before Hutchinson started to play more.)

Hutchinson, from the perspective of value provided based on when the player was selected, is providing the highest return on investment for any fantasy player this year. In preseason, Hutchinson was ranked 364th among fantasy players on Yahoo and 58th among goalies. His meteoric rise isn't only surprising because of his complete lack of NHL experience, or because the Jets themselves have probably exceeded expectations from a team perspective, but because Hutchinson has never been close to this good from a numbers standpoint at any level.

Next to those three NHL games entering this season, Hutchinson had played 111 games in the AHL and 58 in the ECHL. To date, Hutchinson has played 24 NHL games, meaning each of his minor-league stints is much better to analyze, with his AHL time actually an appreciable sample.

And those numbers didn't purport a goalie capable of sustaining a .935 save percentage in the NHL, yet that is what Hutchinson has been this season for Winnipeg. In those 111 AHL games, Hutchinson's save percentage was .917, considerably lower than how he's performed for the Jets. To put it in plainer terms, had Hutchinson been performing at the same level in the AHL, he would have allowed about 50 fewer goals. Keep in mind that over a 111-game span that's a very significant number.

And though his ECHL sample was smaller, and his numbers were better, it wasn't by much. His save percentage in those 58 games was .920. These numbers didn't scream NHL-mainstay, which is likely why it took so long for Hutchinson to make it this far.

Michael Hutchinson
RECORD: 14-4-2
GAA: 1.90 | SVP: .935
It's also why any bets being placed on Hutchinson sustaining this level are very much hedged. For starters, since the 2009-10 season, only 11 times has a goalie who played at least 27 games finished with a save percentage north of .930 (Tuukka Rask has done it twice, meaning only 10 different goalies have done it. Two more who played at least 15 games did it during the 48-game 2012-13 schedule.).

Even in his four seasons playing juniors in the Ontario Hockey League, Hutchinson's numbers weren't near what he's putting up now. In 130 games between the Barrie Colts and the London Knights, Hutchinson had a very average .915 save percentage. It's what made him a third-round pick instead of a first or second.

As far as the Jets and fantasy owners are currently concerned though, none of that matters. Winnipeg is in possession of a wild-card spot, hoping to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the franchise relocated from Atlanta in 2011. (Its last and only playoff appearance was in 2007, when the Thrashers lost in the first round.) Hutchinson has catapulted more than 300 spots from his original fantasy ranking, up to 40th overall. Among goalies, Yahoo has Hutchinson ranked eighth, ahead Jaroslav Halak of the New York Islanders, Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Rask of the Boston Bruins, the very franchise goalie Hutchinson was acres behind on the organizational depth chart for the first three years of his professional career.

This could just be a flash in the pan for the Jets crease-pilot, or this could be the maturation of a very good goaltender. Time will root out that question, but for the time being, Hutchinson has turned into a gem of a fantasy asset.

Semyon Varlamov
RECORD: 12-10-6
GAA: 2.66 | SVP: .921

Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche

Much like last season, Colorado has found success recently with meager possession numbers and heavy reliance on Varlamov. It seems to be working (again) for the time being. Varlamov has stopped 321 of the 342 shots he faced in January, good for a .939 save percentage.


Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

It's always the wrong time to count out the Kings, but as far as Quick is concerned, the world-beating numbers he was putting up earlier in the season are, as many predicted, regressing. Quick hasn't won since Jan. 1 (going 1-3-3 in seven appearances since then), with an .863 save percentage in those games. Compare that to the .932 save percentage Quick had the first three months of the season, and Quick is probably closest to where he sits overall at .912.

Joni Ortio
RECORD: 4-1-0
GAA: 1.98 | SVP: .931

Joni Ortio, Calgary Flames

With Karri Ramo injured, Ortio was recalled from Adirondack of the AHL. Since being inserted into the lineup, Ortio has been very impressive for the most part. He has won four of his five starts with a sparkling .931 save percentage. He knocked off the Vancouver Canucks, the San Jose Sharks, and the Kings in three of those appearances, before his first sub-par outing of the season Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. If Ortio can shake off his first defeat, he has a chance to earn more starts for the Flames down the stretch.


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 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (+1) 16 Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ (SAME)
2 Carey Price, MTL (+1) 17 Ryan Miller, VAN (+3)
3 Brian Elliott, STL (+1) 18 Antti Niemi, SJS (-1)
4 Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (+2) 19 Kari Lehtonen, DAL (+2)
5 Corey Crawford, CHI (SAME) 20 Jonathan Bernier, TOR (-2)
6 Roberto Luongo, FLA (+1) 21 Cory Schneider, NJD (+1)
7 Frederik Andersen, ANA (+1) 22 Petr Mrazek, DET (+2)
8 Ben Bishop, TBL (+1) 23 Devan Dubnyk, MIN (SAME)
9 Jaroslav Halak, NYI (+1) 24 Joni Ortio, CGY (NEW)
10 Braden Holtby, WAS (+3) 25 Antti Raanta, CHI (SAME)
11 Tuukka Rask, BOS (SAME) 26 Cam Talbot, NYR (+1)
12 Michael Hutchinson, WPG (+3) 27 Jake Allen, STL (+2)
13 Jonathan Quick, LAK (-1) 28 Alex Stalock, SJS (SAME)
14 Craig Anderson, OTT (SAME) 29 Carter Hutton, NAS (NEW)
15 Semyon Varlamov, COL (+4) 30 Anton Khudobin, CAR (NEW)

Dropped out: Jonas Hiller

Key injuries: Pekka Rinne, Jimmy Howard, Martin Jones, Steve Mason, Jonas Gustavsson, Karri Ramo


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