Three goalies who can provide good draft day value next season.
Seeing as today is Thursday, as has been the case for the last few months, there will be an open thread at the Dobber Forums today for readers to pop in. It is a thread designed for readers to post their fantasy and non-fantasy hockey questions, and to have an answer that can provide more depth than 140 characters. They can be trades, projections, keepers, or anything else that comes to mind. The thread will open around lunchtime, and I will check in through the day.
Anyone that has played fantasy hockey for any length of time knows how frustrating it can be to pin down goaltending. The nature of the position in the new NHL – or likely just the salary cap era – has included instability of the position. For example, there were only two qualified goalies who finished in the top-10 in save percentage each of the last two seasons: Carey Price and Tuukka Rask. And I doubt anyone who drafted Rask for the 2014-2015 season was happy with their return on their draft day investment.
The first implication of this kind of turnover at the goaltending position is that there probably shouldn’t be a high draft pick invested in goaltending. For those that play fantasy football, imagine goaltending being like the running back position. The bust rate at the top is so high, that it almost isn’t worth it to invest a high draft pick. It is not that it's impossible to return value on a high draft pick for a goaltender or running back, or close to value with the pick, it’s that it may be a coin flip at best.
That is partly why it’s important to think outside the box a bit when it comes to goaltending. There is no necessity to completely eschew the position and rely on backups, but looking for goalies that may not be targets of others is a good way to find value.
I thought I would go through some goalies that could provide good draft day value. There are a few criteria I would be looking for here:
- Is the goalie’s team on the rise, or at least stable?
- Is the goalie the number-1, at least out of the gate?
- Will they have a low draft day cost?
With that in mind, here are a few goalies I’m looking for next year in drafts.
The Sharks made a couple offseason moves that should be very good for the team. The first was defenceman Paul Martin coming over from Pittsburgh. He may be getting up there in age, but one thing he has done of late is prove that he can play top pairing minutes. The good thing about him coming over from Pittsburgh is he probably won’t have to play in their top pair, which means the Sharks now boast a solid top four including Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Sharks were bottom-third in the NHL in shot attempts allowed per 60 minutes, and Martin should help improve that.
Joel Ward was also brought in, and that’s a guy that can help their top-9 forward mix. That should help take the heat off wingers like Matt Nieto, and Tomas Hertl. Taking the heat off should help their natural progression.
The Sharks are still with a lot of talent like Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, and the aforementioned defencemen. There is still Alex Stalock in the mix, but if he wasn’t able to supplant Antti Niemi last year, I doubt that he does so this year unless Jones falls flat on his face.
San Jose should be a team that pushes for the playoffs next year, and even with missing the postseason last year, Niemi posted 31 wins. If the team defence improves, as it should, Jones could be in line for 30-35 wins with a goals against around 2.40.
I can’t imagine a scenario where Cam Ward takes a huge chunk of starts away next year. Over the last three seasons, he’s managed a lower save percentage at five-on-five than Ondrej Pavelec. That isn’t a one year sample, it’s three.
It seemed the reason that they would give so many starts to Ward last year was to move him at the deadline. Ward is a goalie carrying a cap hit over $6-million (according to CapFriendly). Now that he’s still with the team, there really isn’t much incentive to trade him, not that they could get anything for him in a trade now anyway.
One secret that is starting to come out of late is that the Hurricanes are actually a pretty good defensive team. They gave up fewer shots per 60 minutes than Chicago last year, and added James Wisniewski and drafted Noah Hanifin on the blue line.
To put into perspective how good the Carolina team defence was last year, think about this: Ward had a .910 overall save percentage last year, but posted a better goals against average (2.40) than Craig Anderson (2.49), who managed a .923 save percentage. That is how much Carolina managed to make Ward’s fantasy ratios look somewhat respectable.
The one issue with Carolina is scoring. This was one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL, and nothing was done in the offseason to ameliorate the situation. The best comparison I think for Carolina next year would be the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Kings. They were a team that couldn’t score, but had great team defence, and that helped them just manage getting to the playoffs.
With the scoring issues, it’s hard to see Lack garnering a lot of wins. If he can get to 30 next year, that should be seen as a success. Even an average goalie, like Lack probably is, should be able to post decent ratios. If he can have a league average save percentage, a 2.35-ish goals against with 30 wins is doable this year for Lack.
The one trepidation here is whether the Oilers give starts to Ben Scrivens next year. Maybe it’s not a full split, but even a 55-27 split in Talbot’s favour can have a big impact on final value as opposed to 65-17.
With that said, I can’t imagine Talbot was brought in to sit on the bench on opening night. I also can’t imagine the Oilers being as bad as they have been for the last several years. I feel like I’ve said this before, but this is starting to resemble a deep team. Andrej Sekera was brought in, Oscar Klefbom should take a step forward on the blue line, and there’s obviously Connor McDavid, who should excel in a second line role.
All said, as far as underlying numbers go, the Oilers weren’t awful for shot attempts allowed per minute. In fact, they were about as close to the Rangers as they were the Maple Leafs. Assuming the added depth, as well as a new coach and a full training camp with said coach can help improve the team, and there’s reason to think Talbot can be a good fantasy performer next year.
The one problem here is that the general population might be high on the Oilers as well. I certainly wouldn’t draft Talbot among the top-15 goalies next year, so if someone else wants to take that risk, let them. If he falls beyond that, though, there can be good draft day value to be had here.
*Some stats taken from Hockey Abstract