Real or Imagined: Goalies (2015)

by Doran Libin on November 23, 2015 | (2 Comments)

Which goalies to 'buy', 'sell', or 'hold' in the Western Conference...

The quarter mark of the season brings with it the return of the real or imagined series. This week looks at the goalies for each team and gives buy/sell/hold recommendations based both on the numbers that the goalies have posted as well as the defensive systems of the teams specifically. In order to judge the teams’ total shots allowed and high danger shots allowed were key factors.

Shot suppression is a huge factor in team defense as the difference between a league average goalie and an elite goalie is point of save percentage, which equates to one extra goal allowed every 100 shots. High danger shots are important as both team and individual factors. High danger shots generally go in 15-20% of the time. The best shot-suppression team allowed four high danger shots per game whereas the worst allowed seven per game. That is 240 more high danger shots over the season, which equates to a difference of 48 goals on the season. Therefore the ability to limit these shots and shots overall has a drastic effect on the goalies behind those systems. For individual goalies high danger save percentage is largely thought to be the best indicator of a goalie’s talent, along with even strength save percentage, but a 20 game sample does not say much, however a drastic increase over the career average suggests a coming regression and vice versa.

 

Anaheim

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Frederik Andersen

16

4-7-4

2.54

.914

Buy

Anton Khudobin

7

3-3-0

2.44

.917

Hold

Andersen only has four wins but it has little if anything to do with his play. His save percentage has come back to down to earth since his hot start but there is no reason to believe his numbers will get any worse. As it is unlikely that the Ducks’ offense stays as bad as it has been to start, in fact it has already shown signs of rebounding, he should start piling up the wins. The only concerning factor is the number of high danger shots the Ducks have been allowing per game. As it stands they are one of five teams that allow seven high danger shots per game, accounting for 30% of the shots Duck goalies face. As goalies generally stop between one in five or six of these shots per game the Ducks are making it especially tough for their goalies. Despite that, Andersen’s even strength save percentage has been up to his normal standards with only his weak save percentage on the penalty kill allowing Khudobin and his sure to fall 94.12% PK save percentage, to keep pace.

 

Arizona

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Mike Smith

16

8-5-1

3.02

.904

Hold/Soft Buy

Anders Lindback

4

2-4-1

2.52

.909

Sell

The Coyotes have not been nearly the weak sister that they were expected to be. They have managed to keep their record above .500 thanks in part to a defense that gives up a lot of shots but very few in high danger areas. Despite that Mike Smith has been well below average on those shots stopping just 77% of them. That is the aspect of Smith’s game preventing him from having a full rebound season as his numbers on low and medium danger shots are back to his previous levels. Lindback on the other hand is having one of his better seasons. From all signs this seems to be his peak whereas Smith looks to be on the rebound from a tough season. With Tippett as coach, and a bit more scoring punch up front, Smith could be a good buy low as a second goalie.

 

Calgary

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Jonas Hiller

7

2-3-0

3.67

.861

Sell

Karri Ramo

13

6-7-0

3.04

.901

Sell

Joni Ortio

2

0-2-1

4.27

.868

Waive

The Flames are horrible as they have resorted to relying entirely on the home run pass for their break-outs despite having one of the best defense corps in the league. Partially due to that strategy the Flames allow a lot of shots in general and a lot of high danger shots specifically. Furthermore, without the sky high shooting percentages of last year wins are now especially hard to come by, resulting in a goal differential of -25. All the Flames goalies are struggling both to rack up wins and to post decent save percentages. Hiller, the only one with a track record of NHL success has been especially bad. He might make a decent buy low candidate if the Flames looked capable of turning their season around. As it is get as far away as you can.

 

Chicago

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Corey Crawford

16

9-6-1

2.61

.910

Hold

Scott Darling

5

2-2-1

2.52

.912

Hold

The Hawks are allowing fewer shots than they did last season but have not been able to reduce the number of high danger shots they allow.  As a result the Hawks’ goalies are posting numbers right around league average, although they have been better at even strength. Given the Hawks’ offensive struggles, outside of Kane and Panarin, the result has been lower than expected win totals for both Crawford and Darling. As neither goalie has stood out, nor struggled especially, their respective fantasy values should not have changed much.

 

Colorado

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Semyon Varlamov

10

3-6-1

3.26

.890

Buy

Reto Berra

10

4-6-0

2.43

.923

Sell

Calvin Pickard

0

0-0-0

5.12

.840

Waive

The Avs seem to think there is a bonus at the end of the year for giving up the most shots. Both Varlamov and Berra face more than 30 shots per 60 minutes played while Pickard faces just under 30 shots per 60 minutes. That amounts to approximately a shot and a half more per 60 minutes than the average NHL goalie faces, four to five more than the best face. The Avs have been able to keep the high danger shots to a respectable 5.55 per game but it does not make up for their generally abysmal defense. The only saving grace is Berra’s 95.65% even strength save percentage, but that is very unlikely to last as it is two points higher than he has ever had in the past or anything Lundqvist has ever posted. Varlamov makes a strong buy-low candidate as his numbers will undoubtedly even out when he returns from injury, he may not win much but he can provide value in other ways.

 

Dallas

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Kari Lehtonen

10

9-1-0

2.34

.923

Hold

Antti Niemi

11

8-3-0

2.41

.917

Hold

The two-headed monster in Dallas is working as both goalies are posting better than league average save percentages. The defense in front of them is not especially good as they allow 7.33 high danger shots per game and just under 30 shots per 60 minutes played. As bas as the defense is the offense is that much better and shows no signs of stopping. The Dallas goalies should continue to rack up wins even as their save percentages dip. The drawback is that this is a clear platoon situation with neither goalie making an especially strong case to be the outright number one goalie. As it is they both make perfect number two goalies for most fantasy teams.

 

Edmonton

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Cam Talbot

11

8-3-0

3.09

.890

Sell

Anders Nilsson

9

4-4-1

3.04

.901

Hold/Soft Buy

The Oilers have taken another step forward both offensively and defensively. That doesn’t mean that their defense is good though, rather that it is no longer horrendous. They are still bottom 10 in shots allowed and high danger shots allowed and as a result the goalies playing behind the defense still struggle significantly to even appear league average.  Of the two Oiler goalies Nilsson has been significantly better than Talbot as he has faced more and tougher shots. Nilsson for the moment looks like the better bet as Talbot has failed to adapt to the differences between the Ranger and Oiler defenses and now only stops low danger shots at an acceptable rate.  

 

Los Angeles

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Jonathan Quick

16

9-7-1

2.47

.910

Hold

Jhonas Enroth

4

3-1-0

1.17

.962

Sell

The numbers in the Los Angeles nets seem eerily familiar to how they looked two years ago with Jhonas Enroth playing the Martin Jones role. While the Kings still have a top ten shot suppression defense that does not explain Enroth’s numbers. There is also virtually no chance though that he supplants Quick as the Kings’ goalie, or keeps this pace. Jonathan Quick is the best argument for Dubnyk gaining elite starter status. Quick has been a league average starter, at best, by save percentage but playing behind a stingy Kings’ defense has belied upon him elite goalie status. That and the Stanley Cup heroics. Quick’s numbers will not improve much but his value remains the same because he only needs to be league average as long as he the Kings are stellar defensively.

 

Minnesota

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Devan Dubnyk

17

11-5-2

2.49

.911

Buy

Darcy Kuemper

2

0-0-1

4.33

.891

Waive

Devan Dubnyk has been good at even strength but only average overall and the Wild are still thriving in the very competitive Central division. While Dubnyk’s overall numbers are not outstanding they have been trending up through out the season. The Wild defense is not what it used to be but it is still one of the best at suppressing shots. It will not take much for Dubnyk to become one of the best fantasy goalies. The factors are there for Dubnyk to post amazing numbers if he raises his save percentage to 92%, which is not out of the question. Between the very good Wild defense and the three goals per game Wild offense there is still lots of room for Dubnyk’s value to rise especially if given the precariousness nature of his current status.

 

Nashville

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Pekka Rinne

17

10-4-3

2.27

.913

Hold

Carter Hutton

2

1-1-0

3.44

.899

Waive

Rinne has not been especially good this season, in fact he has just been average. It is hard to tell that based on his great record. That is because the Predators do not allow high danger shots, they avoid it like the plague. They are the only team allowing less than five high danger shots per game this season. They are allowing a full high danger shot less than the next best team. That amounts to a goal less every five games than the second best team, over a full season that amounts to sixteen goals saved. The scary thing is that Rinne’s numbers are almost at a career low despite his 10 wins. If he was not already an elite fantasy goalie he would receive a hard-buy but even when Rinne improves the ceiling cannot get much higher than it already is.

 

San Jose

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Martin Jones

17

11-5-0

2.02

.929

Hold

Alex Stalock

3

1-3-0

2.85

.894

Hold

The Sharks are back to the team they were before last year, at least defensively. That has allowed Jones to thrive in the Sharks’ nets. They are once again one of the better shot suppression teams in the league as is a trait of first year Pete DeBoer teams. It is hard to tell whether Jones looks like a star goalie because of the defense or whether it is just supporting the underlying skill. Either way he will not finish the season with a save percentage around 93%. The potential is there for him to become an elite goalie but the existing sample size is too small and varied to place a huge bet on Jones. It does not hurt that Stalock has struggled mightily despite the improved defense making Jones the clear number one. Ride Jones if you got him.

 

St Louis

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Jake Allen

14

9-4-1

2.05

.930

Hold

Brian Elliott

7

4-2-1

2.69

.898

Soft Buy

Jake Allen is clearly the goalie the Blues want to take the starting job and run with it. He is the one that keeps getting chances after he has dropped the ball, which makes sense given his age and Brian Elliott’s history as a 1B goalie at his peak. The best thing for both these goalies is that Ken Hitchcock is still the head coach in St Louis. As long as he is there the goalies will reap the benefits and post outstanding numbers. The problem is that until Allen proves he can carry the load solo this will remain a platoon situation. It also means that Elliott will keep getting 1B starts especially when Allen’s number fall from their current lofty heights. Elliott’s a risk given Allen’s position but he is also in line for some very positive regression.

 

Vancouver

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Ryan Miller

18

6-7-5

2.82

.911

Hold

Jacob Markstrom

2

1-0-1

3.40

.914

Sell

Richard Bachman

1

1-0-0

3.01

.903

Waive

Do not be fooled by the Canucks occasional appearance in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Pacific division. It is more a function of a horrible division and the struggling Ducks than anything the Canucks are doing. The Canucks are a middling defensive team with a horrible penalty kill as the goalies look like fine at even strength but horrendous when shorthanded. Miller is no longer an elite goalie and that is especially the case behind a middle-of-the-pack defense. He does not have much to worry about as Markstrom in particular has been hurt by the penalty kill as he has a 96% save percentage at even strength, that will not last, but a 91.4% save percentage overall. 

 

Winnipeg

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Ondrej Pavelec

13

5-6-1

2.82

.906

Sell

Michael Hutchinson

8

5-3-1

2.69

.915

Buy

Last year the Jets’ goalies traded off hot streaks on their way to sneaking into the playoffs. Last year the Jets were also a very good defensive team which is not the case any more as can be seen as they allow more and better shots. Pavelec’s numbers are odd as at even strength his numbers are as good as they have ever been but over all they are well below average. Given that his career numbers, both at even strength and overall, are closer to 90% than 91.5% it certainly seems as if this may the high point of his season. Hutchinson on the other hand has league average numbers across the board and a brief history of posting even better numbers. Given Pavelec’s contract he will continue to get chances to permanently grab the starting job but Hutchinson is the better goalie.

 

 

  • Jesse Ross

    PS Dobber – these Captcha's are damn near impossible to read. Had to try five times to post the above comment… 🙁 

  • Jesse Ross

    Hey Doran, great read, thanks for the research. One suggestion for the East goalies/Future articles – You talk about the importance of stopping high quality shots, but then for each team you don't actually show us the numbers for the teams? Also you talk about how important even-strength SP% is – but you only show overall save percentage? I would have learned a lot more if you expanded on the stats box for each goalie. Cheers!