Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.
Over the past 10 days, Los Angeles Kings rookie Martin Jones has put on a goaltending clinic. The undrafted 23-year-old has four straight wins, including consecutive shutouts, and 111 saves on the first 114 shots of what looks to be a promising NHL career.
His shutout streak was snapped at 177 minutes and 16 seconds in Thursday night's 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, but between the impressive start to his career and the play of Ben Scrivens, the Kings are sitting atop the throne with a League-best 1.91 goals-against average even without Jonathan Quick.
The Anaheim Ducks have experienced similar success with their goaltending depth this season. Rookie Frederik Andersen has filled in admirably during Viktor Fasth's absence by going 8-1-0 with a 1.74 GAA and .938 save percentage. The same goes for the Chicago Blackhawks and rookie Antti Raanta, as he is now 5-0-1 with a 2.12 GAA and .926 save percentage with Corey Crawford sidelined.
With the rising number of injuries, the latest being Crawford and Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, the number of potential "three-headed monsters" will inevitably rise as well. Most of the time this isn't an issue, because the third goalies will return to the American Hockey League with no issues.
TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES
These modified re-rankings are a projection of a goalie’s fantasy output for the entire season. Our rankings are based on volume categories like games played, wins, saves, and GAA and SP%. 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. Tuukka Rask, Bruins (same)
- 2. Antti Niemi, Sharks (same)
- 3. Carey Price, Canadiens (same)
- 4. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (+2)
- 5. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (-1)
- 6. Steve Mason, Flyers (-1)
- 7. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (+2)
- 8. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (same)
- 9. Josh Harding, Wild (+3)
- 10. Mike Smith, Coyotes (-3)
- 11. Jaroslav Halak, Blues (+2)
- 12. Ben Bishop, Lightning (+2)
- 13. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (-2)
- 14. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (+1)
- 15. Ben Scrivens, Kings (+1)
- 16. Braden Holtby, Capitals (+1)
- 17. Jonathan Bernier, Maple Leafs (+2)
- 18. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (+2)
- 19. Ryan Miller, Sabres (+3)
- 20. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (+1)
- 21. Cory Schneider, Devils (+3)
- 22. Martin Brodeur, Devils (+1)
- 23. Tim Thomas, Panthers (+5)
- 24. Jonas Gustavsson, Red Wings (NR)
- 25. Craig Anderson, Senators (+1)
- 26. Antti Raanta, Blackhawks (NR)
- 27. Cam Ward, Hurricanes (same)
- 28. Robin Lehner, Senators (same)
- 29. J-S Giguere, Avalanche (+1)
- 30. Marek Mazanec, Predators (-5)
* Appeared on injured list last week
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Ray Emery, Frederik Andersen
Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne, Niklas Backstrom, Evgeni Nabokov, Anton Khudobin
But one team facing an intriguing goaltending conundrum is the Carolina Hurricanes.
Not only is Anton Khudobin very close to returning after a lengthy rehab stint, but while Cam Ward is struggling, Justin Peters is proving to be quite the worthy commodity for the organization.
Peters is playing remarkably well this month, stopping 70 of his past 74 shots. He has a 2.26 GAA and .924 save percentage in 14 games, including a 4-2-1 record on home ice with a 1.67 GAA and .941 save percentage. Even in his eight losses, Peters still has a .906 save percentage. He made 43 saves in a 4-3 loss in Detroit on Nov. 21, and then stopped 24 of 25 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 9.
Meanwhile, Ward has given up three goals or more in each of his past five games, including 11 goals on his past 84 shots, a .869 save percentage. He was just 2-2-1 in November with a 2.99 GAA and .904 save percentage, and his 0-5 record in overtime games has frustrated his fantasy owners as well.
When Khudobin returns, Carolina's upper management will have a tough call to make. Peters, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, would have to clear waivers in order to go back to the AHL. But with a cap-friendly $550,000 salary, the odds are pretty good he would be claimed.
So does Carolina roll a three-sided dice when Khudobin returns, or do they make a trade? Depending on the potential return, you could make a case for each goalie staying and each goalie moving.
Regardless of what happens to Peters, the 26-year-old's value is rising. With Carolina clinging to a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division, Peters may prove to be the best solution until Ward gets back on track. Carolina also plays 15 games in January, including five back-to-back sets, so it will need to lean on two goalies as the schedule begins to condense in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Anything could happen in a situation like this, but if you need help in goal, owning either Khudobin or Peters could provide a boost. Both are readily available in Yahoo fantasy leagues, and both are capable of posting quality starts if Ward continues to struggle.
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks -- Going 3-0-0 with 95 saves on his past 99 shots, Luongo is starting to turn on the jets for the 2014 Sochi Olympics push. He has allowed three or less goals in 11 straight games.
Antti Raanta, Chicago Blackhawks -- With Wednesday's win over the Philadelphia Flyers, Raanta is now 4-0-1 with a 2.13 GAA and .924 save percentage. He has allowed just two goals in each of his seven appearances.
Tim Thomas, Florida Panthers -- Three straight wins and 70 saves on 75 shots over the past week becomes even more impressive when you consider the way he played in consecutive wins over Detroit.
Steve Mason, Philadelphia Flyers -- For the first time all season, Mason has given up four goals in a game. In fact, he's done this in each of his past two starts, allowing eight goals on 52 shots.
Marek Mazanec, Nashville Predators -- November's Rookie of the Month has allowed 12 goals in his past three outings with a .848 save percentage. He is also winless in his past five games, going 0-4-1.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers -- The King continues to fight through a tough season, giving up 12 goals on his past 74 shots. The loss of Ryan Callahan won’t make things any easier for him, either.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings -- With Howard injured, Mrazek is back in Detroit amidst a nine-game winning streak in the AHL. That included a 6-0-0 record, 1.67 GAA, and .939 save percentage in November.