With one month to wrap the regular campaign, here’s our updated roundup of all fantasy-relevant goaltenders around the league. Summaries include individual statistics as of Mar. 7, along with this week’s rest-of-season ranking where applicable. Also, be sure to review our goalie depth chart for up-to-date crease situations through the end of the season.
Gibson is the hottest regular netminder since Jan. 23. Through those 12 outings and a minor injury hiccup, he has lost once in regulation while rocking a .946 save percentage and 1.82 goals-against average.Barring tragic injury to the club’s No. 1, we shouldn’t see much from Miller as the Ducks fight to keep a strong grip on second place in the Pacific Division.
After enjoying little success through the first half of the season (the Coyotes as a whole, as well), Raanta has been one of the league’s better netminders, boasting a 9-3-1 record and .935 save percentage since Jan. 20. Hopefully a recent bout of “tightness” doesn’t cost Arizona’s No. 1 much more time, if any. Playing for his next NHL contract only provides the UFA-to-be with extra motivation to finish the campaign on a high. In relief, Kuemper has some value as a spot start or daily fantasy asset when the matchup strikes as favorable. The Coyotes’ backup was good enough in Wednesdays’ 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks, denying 16 of 17 shots.
After losing two games to a minor lower-body injury, Rask is slated to start against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Utilize Boston’s No. 1 as you usually would, and don’t ask for much from Khudobin after this weekend’s back-to-back set with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Lehner appears back in the driver’s seat after Johnson’s mini hot streak slid to a abrupt halt Wednesday evening versus Calgary. After winning three straight and performing well through February altogether, Buffalo’s backup surrendered four goals to the Flames in 26 minutes. Residing in the Eastern basement, the Sabres can’t be counted on to win much before the campaign’s close. Lehner is still prone to steal a game here and there; pick your spots with the club’s No. 1 in daily fantasy competition and leave the league work to others.
Good news for the Flames: Out since Feb. 11 with a groin injury, Smith returned to practice Tuesday in Buffalo. Calgary has secured only four victories in that near month-long span. That won’t do for a club one point out of a playoff spot and behind two teams each with a pair of games in hand (Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche). Considered day-to-day, Calgary’s No. 1 isn’t out of the question to start against the Ottawa Senators this Friday. At that point, Gillies is likely on route to rejoin the AHL Heat, but Rittich shouldn’t play much either with Smith back to health.
Four points out of a wild-card spot, the Hurricanes will rely on whoever is getting the job done in the crease, game by game. Darling earns another shot Thursday against the Blackhawks after relieving Ward in Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. A strong showing against his old squad should earn the former Chicago netminder another go Monday against the New York Rangers. Otherwise, the Hurricanes likely turn back to Ward, the better of the two all season, in New York. For fantasy managers, it’s an altogether unpredictable affair.
Let the Berube era begin? With Crawford (concussion) unlikely to return this season, or at least anytime soon, and Forsberg and Jeff Glass failing to hold down the fort, the former Islander is getting the opportunity to make something of the waning days of 2017-18. Berube has one awful and two excellent performances to show for three starts with the Blackhawks, including a recent stingy 2-1 OT win over the Avalanche. With an eye on the backup gig in Chicago next season, this 26-year-old fantasy wild card has plenty to play for and prove down the stretch.
If the Avalanche are to have a realistic shot at securing a playoff berth, it will be on the shoulders of their No. 1 netminder. No goalie in the NHL has appeared in more games since Feb. 10, further highlighting Varlamov’s .922 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average over that stretch. Even with Bernier cleared to play following a concussion, Colorado’s go-to will see the majority of starts down the stretch. Plus, Varlamov (rostered in 47 percent of ESPN leagues) has only one regulation loss in eight games.
Minor illness isn’t expected to hold Bobrovsky back from returning to the swing of things Friday against the Detroit Red Wings, while Korpisalo remains slated to start against the Avs on Thursday. Following a shaky stretch spanning mid-January to mid-February, the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 is 6-3-1 with a .928 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average since Feb. 10. Look for Bob to shoulder most, if not all, of the workload as Columbus hungers for another shot at the playoffs. Fantasy managers should utilize the two-time Vezina winner game in and out.
Fortunately, Bishop’s knee injury no longer presents as all that dire. Tagging the ailment as “short term and not long term”, Stars coach Ken Hitchcock also revealed that the 31-year-old would travel with the team on their upcoming road trip. Still, that leaves Lehtonen with at least a handful of games before Bishop is fit to compete. Our guess is the veteran backup follows up Thursday’s contest against the visiting Ducks with starts against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens next Sunday and Tuesday, respectively, before Wednesday’s game in Toronto. Perennially streaky, Lehtonen could be worth a flier as either an injury plug or DFS asset after Tuesday’s solid 32-save loss (not his fault) to the Nashville Predators.
Detroit Red Wings
A pair of extra-stingy back-to-back wins in late February against the Hurricanes and Rangers isn’t enough to distract from Howard’s current four-game losing streak (.903 save percentage, 3.10 goals-against average). The Wings have five victories in their past 16 contests, three of them in regulation. That’s not all Howard’s fault, but contending fantasy manages should depend on goaltending from elsewhere to wrap up 2017-18.
This just hasn’t been Talbot’s season. Edmonton’s No. 1 is 5-9-0 since the start of February with a 3.08 goals-against average. There’s no justification in hoping for some positive turnaround at this stage. Most fantasy managers in re-draft leagues are better off rolling the dice with less popular goaltending assets as this campaign winds down.
Perceivably fresh after sitting out 11 weeks with a lower-body injury, Luongo is 6-1-1 with a .925 save percentage and 2.60 goals-against average since Feb. 17, including a 5-4 OT loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just like that, with no small thanks to forward Aleksander Barkov and others, the Panthers are right back in the playoff conversation. Pencil Reimer in for a handful of Florida’s league-most 18 remaining starts, but Luongo will get the rest. Somehow or another, the 38-year-old veteran is available in nearly half of ESPN leagues.
Los Angeles Kings
As impressed as we all are with Campbell’s season debut and second career complete game (stopping 41 of 42 shots in last week’s victory against the Vegas Golden Knights), the Kings will rely on Quick to carry them through until early April. Barely holding onto the second wild-card spot in the West, the L.A. club will make or break this season on the back of their proven No. 1. As long as the two-time Stanley Cup champion remains healthy, Quick’s fantasy managers won’t be wanting for starts.
One of the most consistent fantasy netminders around, Dubnyk has been particularly impressive since the start of December, sporting a 19-5-3 record, .921 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average. Until the Wild cement a playoff spot in the Central Division, don’t expect to see too much of Stalock, even though Minnesota has four back-to-back sets left on the schedule.
Between Price’s concussion, Niemi’s latest lower-body injury and Lindgren’s surrendering of six goals to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, there isn’t much to appreciate from a fantasy standpoint with the Canadiens these days. Fantasy managers are advised to rely on goaltending assets outside of Montreal, at least until/if the club’s No. 1 returns this season.
With an eye to an extended playoff run, the Predators shouldn’t be too hard pressed in keeping their preseason pledge of playing Rinne in fewer than 60 games this season. Even though Nashville’s No. 1 has already started 49 contests, backup Juuse Saros is proving more than capable in helping out down the stretch. In addition to putting up solid numbers through 17 starts, the rookie netminder has won two straight. With 16 contests left on their slate, coach Peter Laviolette can be expected to offer Saros action in a substantial percentage of what’s left, especially if the Preds put additional distance between themselves and others in the Central Division. They currently hold a six-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets.
New Jersey Devils
A strong showing from Schneider against the Jets on Thursday will go a long way in getting Jersey’s No. 1 back in his groove. Otherwise, the Devils could turn back to Kinkaid, who merits a good deal of credit (see also: a white-hot Taylor Hall) for the club presently claiming the East’s top wild-card position. Losing both matches (.893 save percentage) since returning to action for the first time since Dec. 23, Schneider was shaky and unsuccessful even before sustaining his groin injury. Rostered in only 14.5 percent of ESPN leagues, Kinkaid could theoretically become a fantasy factor down the stretch.
Halak is utterly overwhelmed, Greiss is hurt and Gibson has five games on his NHL resume (four of them from two years ago). There’s not much here fantasy-wise as the Islanders tumble down the Eastern standings. Gibson might make for a fun longshot DFS asset after last weekend’s 47-save, 3-2 OT loss to the Penguins. The 25-year-old starts in net Thursday against the Oilers. That’s it, though.
New York Rangers
King Henrik doesn’t seem the least bit interested in your talk of a rebuilding or tanking for the top draft pick, as outlined by Larry Brooks.
“…The Blueshirts began Wednesday’s game in Vancouver holding the seventh spot in the draft lottery, which would equate to an approximate 20.9 percent chance of moving into the top three and a 6.7 percent chance of franchise defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the unanimously ranked No. 1,” writes Brooks. “One hundred and one saves later from Henrik Lundqvist plus another 35 from Alexandar Georgiev, and the Rangers had slipped to 10th draft position and lowered their odds by 6.5 percent to move into the top three and by 2.2 percent to claim the grand prize. …”
Fact is, the Rangers aren’t out of the playoff mix yet. As long as that remains the case, New York’s No. 1 can be counted on to bring his competitive best to the rink every night. Otherwise, rookie Georgiev serves as an intriguing DFS dark horse in Grand Prize Pool play.
Monday’s win over Dallas is the first time Anderson allowed less than four goals since Feb. 17. Only those fantasy managers with very little to lose might gamble on the Senators’ starter. Otherwise, ride other goalie options, at least for the rest of this season.
It’s been an ugly month of March thus far for Mrazek. Four straight losses and a 4.42 goals-against average later, and that impressive eruption for three-straight wins following his trade from the Red Wings feels like quite some time ago. Still, the playoff-targeting Flyers are more or less stuck with relying on their new netminder while Elliott continues to recover from injury. However, that doesn’t mean fantasy managers should do the same, not if there are other winning options out there, at least until the former Detroit goalie turns it around.
As long as Jarry, winner of three straight (.925 save percentage), continues to stand tall, the Penguins may enjoy the luxury of taking additional time with Murray’s recovery from a concussion. However, with three consecutive sets of back-to-backs coming up, it’ll be interesting to see whether Pittsburgh opts to enlist the services of their top netminder or offer DeSmith another chance to spell off Jarry. Murray is back skating, but has yet to face any shots in practice. Invested fantasy managers should keep an eye on how this all unfolds.
Look for the Sharks to go heavy on Jones and light on Dell as they try to clamber over Anaheim for home ice in the Pacific. Outside of one recent dud in which he relinquished three goals on 13 shots to the Blue Jackets in 25 minutes, San Jose’s top guy has been super since Jan. 31, riding a .933 save percentage and 2.14 goals-against average. The deadline addition of Evander Kane, along with the pending return of Joe Thornton, increases the squad’s odds of winning more often than not.
Hutton (.894 save percentage) and Allen (.852) have one win between them in nine contests. Unless the floundering Blues, in a playoff position not that long ago, manage to pull themselves together in a hurry, neither netminder merits rostering in fantasy competition. That’s a possibility we’re not ready to rule out since St. Louis still sits only two points out of a postseason spot with 16 games remaining. Much stranger things have happened. Of the two, Hutton has been the superior competitor since mid-December. Amazingly, he remains in contention to finish the campaign with a sub-2.00 goals-against average.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Vezina favorite is becoming fatigued. No surprise here, since the 23-year-old has already played five more games than last season, and we’ve got a ways to go yet. Still, until the Lightning have the No. 1 seed in the East locked up for good, don’t anticipate seeing much from anyone else between Tampa’s pipes. Even then, coach Jon Cooper will want his club to conclude the regular campaign on a strong note. So anticipate a little less from Vasilevskiy in this last month, but not that much less.
Leading the league with 56 starts, the Maple Leafs’ No. 1 can’t be blamed for feeling a little bushed, likely one of several factors playing into Toronto’s slide of four-straight losses. Fortunately, a stint of four full days off, followed by another three on the heels of Saturday’s tilt with the Pens, should serve as opportunity for Andersen to freshen up. If not, look for more from McElhinney — an attractive DFS asset as one of the NHL’s superior backups — through the Leafs’ final run while the club sits third, relatively securely, in the Atlantic.
The Canucks’ No. 1 serves as a serviceable supporting netminder in deeper ESPN leagues as the everyday starter with a regular shot at nailing a decent enough save percentage and goals-against average. Since returning from a minor injury Feb. 23, Markstrom sports a .922 save percentage and 2.71 GAA. Just don’t anticipate too many ticks in the wins column, especially now that top forward Brock Boeser (back injury) is probably out for the season.
Vegas Golden Knights
Spotted back on the practice ice in full equipment, Subban might not be long for returning to action after sustaining an upper-body injury in early February. Look for the Knights’ top backup to receive additional opportunities while Vegas prepares for their postseason campaign. No spring chick, Fleury has stumbled a bit in recent play, and a little extra rest will do the 33-year-old good, physically and mentally. Manage your fantasy rosters accordingly.
A bit of drama brewing in Washington, as the club reluctantly turns to their backup for a bit. It’s totally understandable, since Grubauer has played superbly really since the end of December, while Holtby has struggled, losing seven of eight (4.82 goals-against average).
“He hasn’t had a real good stretch,” coach Barry Trotz said of his No. 1. “He’s going to work with our goaltending coaches and get his game in order. He’s won a lot of games for us. He’s an elite goaltender in this league. Everybody goes through some dry spells and he’s having one right now really.”
Invested managers would do well to bench Holtby in the meantime and, if possible, enlist the fantasy services of the Capitals’ other goalie. Grubauer remains rostered in only 12.2 percent of ESPN leagues.
This just isn’t fair. Forty-ish hours after serving up a 31-save shutout of the Rangers in his first game back following a lengthy absence due to concussion, Mason suffers a lower-body injury in the Jets’ game day skate. So, we’re back to Hutchinson patrolling the crease in relief of Hellebuyck when called upon. Admittedly, that isn’t expected to be all that often. The Jets’ No. 1 seems no worse for wear after already starting 52 contests this season.