The Goalie Report: Playoff Edition

The Goalie Report: Playoff Edition

This article is part of our The Goalie Report series.

There is only one spot open reserved for the 16 teams taking part in the playoffs. Asides from the Jets and Avalanche meeting in Round 1, what the remaining matchups will look liked are still to be determined.

The NHL regular season ends Thursday, and odds are those matchups will likely be determined by then. This time next week, the playoffs will already be in full swing.

In preparation for the playoffs, a power ranking of goalies is provided below. They are ranked both within their own tiers and numerically, with Stanley Cup odds provided by DraftKings as of Sunday, April 14. The odds of a goalie's team winning it all is the biggest factor in the rankings, followed by individual ability. Adjust accordingly if you feel one of the teams will be a dark horse.

This also marks the end of the Goalie Report column for the 2023-24 season. Thank you for reading, and I hope this column was informative and helpful in your fantasy season. If you didn't win, remember next year we can pull out our hair together trying to figure out goalies again.

Tier 1: Contending team, will likely start every game

1.      Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers (+700)
2.      Jake Oettinger, Stars (+850)
3.      Igor Shesterkin, Rangers (+900)
4.      Stuart Skinner, Oilers (+750)

These four are the surest bets for good goalies who will get lots of volume. Though the Oilers' odds are better than the Stars' and Rangers', Skinner is easily the

There is only one spot open reserved for the 16 teams taking part in the playoffs. Asides from the Jets and Avalanche meeting in Round 1, what the remaining matchups will look liked are still to be determined.

The NHL regular season ends Thursday, and odds are those matchups will likely be determined by then. This time next week, the playoffs will already be in full swing.

In preparation for the playoffs, a power ranking of goalies is provided below. They are ranked both within their own tiers and numerically, with Stanley Cup odds provided by DraftKings as of Sunday, April 14. The odds of a goalie's team winning it all is the biggest factor in the rankings, followed by individual ability. Adjust accordingly if you feel one of the teams will be a dark horse.

This also marks the end of the Goalie Report column for the 2023-24 season. Thank you for reading, and I hope this column was informative and helpful in your fantasy season. If you didn't win, remember next year we can pull out our hair together trying to figure out goalies again.

Tier 1: Contending team, will likely start every game

1.      Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers (+700)
2.      Jake Oettinger, Stars (+850)
3.      Igor Shesterkin, Rangers (+900)
4.      Stuart Skinner, Oilers (+750)

These four are the surest bets for good goalies who will get lots of volume. Though the Oilers' odds are better than the Stars' and Rangers', Skinner is easily the shakiest goalie of the four. The Oilers likely have better odds because the path to the final is much easier through the Pacific than the Central, even though the Stars and Rangers both have better records and are considered superior teams.

Tier 2: Contending team, might rotate starts

5.      Frederik Andersen, Hurricanes (+650)
6.      Jeremy Swayman, Bruins (+1,000)
7.      Linus Ullmark, Bruins (+1,000)
8.      Pyotr Kochetkov, Hurricanes (+650)

Both teams have split their starts evenly; the Hurricanes ever since Andersen returned, and the Bruins since the beginning of the season. It remains to be seen if this will continue. Last season, the Bruins started Ullmark and earned a 3-1 lead against the Panthers, but lost three straight and arguably made their goaltending switch too late to win the series. If the Bruins were to pick one, Swayman has been the better goalie this season.

For the Canes, the biggest concern with Andersen is his health. Along with Kochetkov, they have formed arguably the league's best tandem, but Andersen likely gets the call due to his seniority and experience. You wonder, however, how Andersen will handle the pressure of playing every game with a lengthy history of injuries. Kochetkov can step in at any time, as he did last season as well.

The Canes and Bruins are two of the best teams in the East, but from a fantasy perspective, the uncertain rotation makes their goalies far less reliable than the ones in Tier 1.

Tier 2B: Contending team, might get replaced by his backup

9.      Alexandar Georgiev, Avalanche (+700)
10.   Adin Hill, Golden Knights (+1,200)
11.   Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs (+1,400)

Both Georgiev and Samsonov have been shaky all season, ceding time to their backups, Justus Annunen and Joseph Woll, respectively, and Hill just recently returned from injury. The good news is both teams have second goalies they're fairly comfortable starting, but the bad news is it devalues their starters in fantasy.

There is certainly a chance the Avs, Knights and Leafs go deep into the playoffs, but there's no guarantee it will be with these three goalies in net. Past history is littered with examples of backups who take over for the starters, and it's happened all regular season. It's far less risky to take goalies in Tiers 1 and 2.  

Tier 3: Hopeful team, will likely start every game

12.   Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning (+2,500)
13.   Thatcher Demko, Canucks (+1,600)
14.   Connor Hellebuyck, Jets (+2,000)
15.   Cam Talbot, Kings (+2,500)
16.   Juuse Saros, Predators (+4,000)

It's hard to discount the Lightning's pedigree, and they're arguably the best team going into the playoffs in this tier. If the Lightning prove to be a contender – and I think they might – Vasilevskiy could easily jump into Tier 1. He's one of the best risk-reward picks because the Lightning might get eliminated in Round 1, but the upside is also potentially huge.

The same could be said for Demko and Hellebuyck, but they face tougher paths to the finals. The Canucks are a little riskier because they're an unproven bunch, having made the playoffs just once in the past eight seasons.

The Kings and Preds may stage upsets in Round 1, but their regular-season performance proves they're not in the same tier as the other three teams. It would be a bold decision to pick Talbot or Saros in your playoff pool, but being bold can pay huge dividends. Any goalie picked below Tier 3, however, is a last-ditch attempt at a potential miracle.

Tier 4: Hopeful team, might get replaced by his backup

17.   Alex Lyon, Red Wings (+13,000)
18.   Alex Nedeljkovic, Penguins (+18,000)
19.   Ilya Sorokin, Islanders (+5,000)

These three goalies will likely start Game 1 of their series, and they're ranked from least likely to get replaced to most likely. Sorokin is an elite goalie, but Patrick Roy has proven he won't hesitate to go back to Semyon Varlamov, who was his starter when both were with the Avalanche.

The least likely to be replaced is Lyon because the alternatives, James Reimer and Ville Husso, don't inspire anymore confidence. It would have to take a really poor start from Lyon for the Wings to change their mind.

Tier 5: Backups who might replace the starter

20.   Semyon Varlamov, Islanders (+5,000)
21.   Justus Annunen, Avalanche (+700)
22.   Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs (+1,400)
23.   Logan Thompson, Golden Knights (+1,200)
24.   James Reimer, Red Wings (+13,000)
25.   Tristan Jarry, Penguins (+18,000)
26.   Anthony Stolarz, Panthers (+700)

Stolarz may be the best backup but he's the least likely to replace the starter. Varlamov, Annunen, Woll and Thompson top the list because the starters for their respective teams could potentially underperform, and they have enough trust from their coaches to see action in the postseason.

Varlamov and Annunen are the two goalies I suspect we will see the soonest. The Isles won't hesitate to use both goalies, and the Avs may not give Georgiev a long leash, especially after his embarrassing 7-0 loss to the Jets.

Tier 6: Afterthoughts

27.   Samuel Ersson, Flyers (+35000)
28.   Charlie Lindgren, Capitals (+25000)

Should either team make the playoffs, winning one game would already be quite the accomplishment. Nobody expected them to be in contention, and their goalies have very minimal to zero fantasy value. They will be major underdogs in Round 1 with the possibility of getting swept.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Chen
Jason won the 2021 FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year award, and was also a finalist on 2019. He joined RotoWire in 2013. Jason has also written for Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, The Hockey News, The Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends Magazine, and Centre Ice Magazine.
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