Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey staff writer David Satriano provides in-depth goalie analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Satriano is your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.
With Ondrej Pavelec (52 percent owned in Yahoo Leagues) expected to be sidelined for at least the month of December with a knee sprain, Michael Hutchinson has been given first crack at taking over as the Winnipeg Jets' No. 1 goalie. But Hutchinson (27 percent owned) has lost each of his past three games, allowing three or more goals in each. Overall, he's 5-6-1 with a 3.09 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage and has lost his past six starts.
That's why Jets coach Paul Maurice has opted to use rookie Connor Hellebuyck in two of the past three games. In his NHL debut against the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 27, Hellebuyck got the win, stopping 14 shots. On Wednesday, he was outstanding, making 32 saves in a 6-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
True, it is an extremely small sample size, so we can't make much of his 1.00 GAA and .958 save percentage, but Maurice did say he would get some starts with Pavelec out and the Jets needing all the points they can get, so why not keep starting Hellebuyck?
Winnipeg has a back-to-back with the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks this weekend, and although those are two tough teams, expect to see Hellebuyck (12 percent owned) start at least one of those games, if not both.
Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
Bishop has flown under the radar because of the Lightning's lack of offense, but he’s having a very good season. Bishop made 32 saves in a 2-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday and is 5-1-1 in his past seven games, allowing 11 goals. Prior to that, he lost five straight decisions despite not allowing two goals in any of those games.
Bishop (99 percent owned) has started 62 games in each of the past two seasons; he was 40-13-5 in 2014-15 and 37-14-7 in 2013-14. He may not get that many wins this season, but his goals-against average is 2.04 and his save percentage is .926, each the highest of his career.
I think this is his most impressive season to date because of how he's managed to keep the Lightning in every game. The defending Eastern Conference champions rank 25th in goals per game but are fifth in goals allowed per game, in large part because of Bishop.
Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
It's hard to believe this is the same goaltender who won 41 games in 2013-14 and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. He's battled injuries this season, but even when he's been healthy he has been anything but consistent, and he's been an enigma for fantasy owners.
Varlamov (68 percent owned) is 5-7-1 and his GAA (3.28) and save percentage (.887) rank 43rd and 44th, respectively, among qualified goalies. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy has said time and time again that he is the No. 1 guy, but Varlamov has allowed at least three goals in 11 of his 15 appearances. Roy used backup Reto Berra (21 percent owned) in a 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday; Berra made 27 saves in that game and has a 2.26 GAA, .927 save percentage and two shutouts.
Even if Varlamov does get the majority of the starts from here on out (a big "if"), I wouldn't recommend keeping him on your team if you own him. It's hard to trust a guy who allows as many goals as he does, and doesn't get wins or put up good peripherals.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Chad Johnson, Buffalo Sabres
Robin Lehner, who was injured in the Sabres' first game of the season and hasn't played since, is expected to return this month. Rookie Linus Ullmark (10 percent owned) has taken most of the starts recently (4-5-2, 2.64 GAA, .916 save percentage), but has allowed seven goals in his past two games, paving the way for Johnson to get his chance.
Johnson (13 percent owned) has started two of Buffalo’s past three games, going 2-0-0 and allowing two goals on 57 shots. He also stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief of Ullmark in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Nov. 25. Johnson is 6-7-1 with a 2.37 GAA and .913 save percentage. In his past five games, Johnson has a .947 save percentage.
When Lehner returns, the job is his; until then, the veteran Johnson might get most of the starts for the Sabres.
Carey Price's health seems like a topic of conversation every week, and this week is no different. His return from a three-week absence didn't last long. Price played two games and two periods before he was removed from the Montreal Canadiens’ Nov. 25 game against the New York Rangers after the second period with a lower-body injury and will be out at least six weeks. Mike Condon likely will see majority of the starts in his absence with Dustin Tokarski getting playing time in the AHL and Zachary Fucale, who has yet to make his NHL debut, backing up Condon.
The Toronto Maple Leafs sent Jonathan Bernier to the AHL for conditioning; he will be there at least 10 days, according to coach Mike Babcock. Bernier is 0-8-1 with a 3.28 GAA and a save percentage of .888. That could mean rookie Garret Sparks (who has seen his ownership go from zero to 15 percent in two days) could see more action as the backup. Following a 24-save shutout against the Edmonton Oilers in his NHL debut on Monday, Sparks got his second straight start Wednesday but allowed six goals on 35 shots in a 6-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Starter James Reimer (52 percent owned) has allowed one goal in four of his past six starts.
TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES
These rankings indicate fantasy expectations for this season alone. Value is quantified by projected starts, peripheral category coverage, timeshare situations, team defenses, past performance and overall upside in standard Yahoo categories, which include wins, goals-against average (GAA), save percentage (SV%) and shutouts. It is important to note that our rankings reflect sheer fantasy value, not necessarily the most talented goalies in order.
||Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (SAME)
||Jaroslav Halak, NYI (-2)
||Braden Holtby, WSH (+1)
||Kari Lehtonen, DAL (SAME)
||Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (+1)
||Mike Condon, MTL (+4)
||Pekka Rinne, NSH (+1)
||John Gibson, ANA (NEW)
||Jonathan Quick, LAK (+3)
||Jimmy Howard, DET (-2)
||Cory Schneider, NJD (+1)
||Craig Anderson, OTT (-1)
||Corey Crawford, CHI (+3)
||James Reimer, TOR (+4)
||Jake Allen, STL (-2)
||Thomas Greiss, NYI (NEW)
||Ben Bishop, TBL (+3)
||Steve Mason, PHI (+5)
||Roberto Luongo, FLA (+6)
||Semyon Varlamov, COL (-4)
||Devan Dubnyk, MIN (-2)
||Ryan Miller, VAN (-1)
||Martin Jones, SJS (-1)
||Michael Hutchinson, WPG (SAME)
||Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ (+6)
||Antti Niemi, DAL (SAME)
||Tuukka Rask, BOS (-1)
||Connor Hellebuyck, WPG (NEW)
||Petr Mrazek, DET (SAME)
||Chad Johnson, BUF (NEW)
Dropped out: Brian Elliott, Anders Nilsson
Key injuries: Carey Price, Frederik Andersen, Ondrej Pavelec, Andrew Hammond, Robin Lehner