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Fantasy goalie bargains for 2017-18

Darling, Lehner can provide value based on average draft position

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

With the start of the NHL season less than two weeks away and preseason games already underway, fantasy drafts have been taking place and will continue to take place. Goalies are arguably the most important position and knowing when to select one or which to select can make or break your season.

Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens), Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals), Matt Murray (Pittsburgh Penguins), Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets), Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers) and Jake Allen (St. Louis Blues) are the top six goalies being selected in drafts, each going in the third round or earlier. But holding out for a goalie in later rounds and instead selecting a forward or defenseman earlier could be the way to go.

 

[RELATED: Fantasy hockey cheat sheet | Top 250 fantasy rankings | Fantasy forward bargains | Fantasy defensemen bargains]

 

Here is a list of 12 goalies who are bargains or could prove to be bargains with majority being selected after the top 100 picks (Rounds 9-10):

Devan Dubnyk, MIN (NHL.com rank: 7; Yahoo ADP: 46.1, 10th among goalies)

Even though he's been a top five Vezina Trophy finalist in two of the past three seasons, Dubnyk is the 10th goalie on average being selected in drafts. Since being traded to the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 15, 2015, Dubnyk ranks second in wins (99) and shutouts (15), and is third in save percentage (.924) and tied for fourth in goals-against average (2.17) among goalies who have played at least 30 games. Since the 2014-15 season, Dubnyk has averaged 36 wins and five shutouts and his 132 games in the past two seasons ranks first.

Video: Devan Dubnyk lands at No. 44 on the list

 

Frederik Andersen, TOR (NHL.com: 17; Yahoo ADP: 71.7, 17th)

Anderson ranked second in the League with 66 starts (33-16-14) and although the 2.67 GAA was his worst in four seasons, he had an NHL career-high four shutouts, and a .918 SV%. In his first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Andersen got stronger as the year went on, with a 2.27 GAA and .930 SV% in his final 18 games. He proved he was a workhorse, making the second-most saves in the League (1,853) and should perform well again this season with the Maple Leafs' young core of forwards Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander providing offense in front of him.

 

Craig Anderson, OTT (NHL.com: 19; Yahoo ADP: 104.0, 20th)

The Ottawa Senators didn't make many changes to their roster in the offseason. The most notable change was losing defenseman Marc Methot in the NHL Expansion draft and replacing him with Johnny Oduya. This doesn't necessarily mean they will make the Eastern Conference Final again, but should compete for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. Anderson played in 40 games last season, a total which should be closer to 60 now that his wife, Nicholle, has beat cancer. The 36-year-old was 25-11-4 with a 2.28 GAA (10th among qualified goalies), .926 SV% (third) and five shutouts (T-7th) to finish in the top 10 among fantasy goalies. Anderson has a career SV% of .916 although his career GAA is 2.69. He's on average the 20th goalie selected and likely will garner a big return.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm6: Anderson slides across to rob Crosby

 

Brian Elliott, PHI (NHL.com: 20; Yahoo ADP: 111.0, 21st)

The Philadelphia Flyers didn't bring in Elliott this offseason to be a backup. He'll likely start at least 55 games with Michal Neuvirth (ADP: 155.6) serving as the clear No. 2 option. Elliott was 23-9-2 with a .919 SV% in 35 games beginning Dec. 19. He hasn't had a GAA higher than 2.28 in five seasons prior to last and has had a SV% of at least .920 in three of the past six seasons. Going as low as he has makes him a big bargain, especially if he can acclimate to his third team in three years.

 

Scott Darling, CAR (NHL.com: 21; Yahoo ADP: 120.5, 22nd)

Darling will replace longtime Carolina Hurricanes starter Cam Ward, who will serve as the backup and was mentioned earlier this month as a breakout candidate. Darling, the backup to Corey Crawford on the Chicago Blackhawks in each of the past three seasons, has won the Stanley Cup (2015) and was 18-5-5 last season. His career numbers are excellent (2.37 GAA, .923 SV%) and he'll finally get a chance to prove he can be a No. 1. Expect between 25-30 wins from Darling, who will be surrounded by a young roster full of talent.

Video: PIT@CHI: Darling turns away Crosby with pair of stops

 

Robin Lehner, BUF (NHL.com: 23; Yahoo ADP: 132.7, 24th)

Hiring the defensive-minded Phil Housley as coach should help Lehner improve his numbers with the Buffalo Sabres this season. Having center Jack Eichel healthy for the entire season will also help. Lehner made an NHL career-high 58 starts in 2016-17, and was 23-26-8 with a .925 even-strength save percentage (17th among goalies who played at least 25 games) and a sub-par 2.68 GAA (31st). He was recently mentioned as a sleeper candidate. If the Sabres can tighten up defensively and also get added offense from the return of veteran forward Jason Pominville, Lehner's numbers should be better as a result.

 

Jaroslav Halak, NYI (NHL.com: 24; Yahoo ADP: 122.3, 23rd)

Halak went 6-8-5 with a 3.13 GAA and .907 SV% in 20 games with the New York Islanders, which prompted them to send him to the American Hockey League. Upon his return in March, Halak looked like a new man, going 6-1-0 allowing 15 goals on 240 shots (.938 SV%). That's the type of play the Islanders are expecting from Halak, who was 38-17-4 with a .914 SV% and six shutouts in 2014-15. If he starts the season well, expect Halak to win the No. 1 job instead of splitting starts with Thomas Greiss, who regressed in 2016-17 after his stellar 2015-16 season. If you're going to select Halak, it may not be a bad idea to target Greiss, who's going 162.4 on average.

Video: NYI@NJD: Halak kicks aside Hall's breakaway bid

 

Antti Raanta, ARI (NHL.com: 25; Yahoo ADP: 165.1, 31st)

Raanta, acquired from the New York Rangers with center Derek Stepan on June 23, will take over for Mike Smith (traded to Calgary Flames) in goal for the Arizona Coyotes. Although Raanta has never been a starter before, he has played at least 25 games in three of the past four seasons. He likely will double the 26 starts he made last season and see a slight increase in GAA given the move from New York to Arizona. However, his SV% should be solid, facing more shots than normal. It's tough to predict the number of wins Raanta will get, but you likely will be rewarded drafting a starter as low as he is going, especially if he is your second or third goalie. The Coyotes have also improved their defense by adding Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers to a group that already features Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski.

 

Steve Mason, WPG (NHL.com: N/A; Yahoo ADP: 167.1, 34th)

With neither Connor Hellebuyck (24) or Michael Hutchinson (27) having been able to take control of the No. 1 job for the Winnipeg Jets, it could be Mason's to lose. Signed as a free agent in the offseason, goal support likely will lead to better numbers for Mason. The Jets ranked seventh in the NHL with 3.0 goals per game last season, and the Flyers were tied for 20th (2.59). Mason had a 2.66 GAA and .908 SV%, numbers that have regressed in each category the past three seasons. He has made at least 48 starts in the past four seasons and has averaged 25 wins in that span.

Video: NYI@PHI: Mason shuts the door on Tavares' deflection

 

Jimmy Howard, DET (NHL.com: 27; Yahoo ADP: 178.2, 41st)

Howard is being drafted two spots ahead of Detroit Red Wings teammate Petr Mrazek on average. The veteran goalie obviously is an injury risk, having made 57 combined starts in the past two seasons, but he had a 2.10 GAA and .927 SV% last season, each the best in his career. Even if this does end up being a timeshare with Mrazek, who had a 3.04 GAA and .901 SV% last season, Detroit likely will rely more heavily on Howard. Selecting Howard in the 16th round or later can give you depth at the position, or at the least, provide you with a trade option.

 

Jacob Markstrom, VAN (NHL.com: N/A; Yahoo ADP: N/A)

The Vancouver Canucks goalie that is being drafted isn't Markstrom, but rather Anders Nilsson (ADP: 169.5, 36th among goalies), which is somewhat surprising since Vancouver said last year that Markstrom would be the eventual starter. Markstrom, mentioned by NHL.com as a deep sleeper, played in 26 games last season (10-11-3, 2.63 GAA, .910 SV%); Nilsson played in 26 with the Buffalo Sabres (10-10-4, 2.67 GAA, .923 SV%). With forwards Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and young core players like forwards Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, the talent is there for the Canucks to improve offensively, helping Markstrom get more wins. The good news is he likely will be available on the waiver wire following drafts, so you may be able to wait a week or so to assess his regular-season play before picking him up.

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