The Goalie Report: Risers & Fallers

The Goalie Report: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our The Goalie Report series.

Last Tuesday was officially the quarter-mark of the NHL season and it's appropriate to take stock of what has transpired so far. As always, it's been anything but predictable.

For starters, the three best goalies so far this season — Thatcher Demko, Cam Talbot and Adin Hill — were not ranked among the top five coming into the season. While Alexandar Georgiev leads the league in wins, his .900 save percentage and 2.90 GAA are both much worse than expected. Juuse Saros' save percentage has been equally disappointing at .900, and pre-season Vezina contender Ilya Sorokin is struggling to keep the net on Long Island.

The zero-G drafting method — where managers abstain from taking goalies early in fantasy drafts and eschew the so-called "elite" goalies knowing the position is fraught with inconsistency and unpredictability — has proven to be effective. It works in theory, but it also requires managers to keep an eye on the waiver wire and know which goalies to take a chance on.

Good thing you have this week's Goalie Report to count on.

Trending Up

Connor Ingram, Coyotes (10-3-0, .926 Sv%, 2.40 GAA)

It's safe to say that Ingram is the Coyote's No. 1. He's started six straight games since Andre Tourigny broke from his rotation, including four straight wins against the three previous Cup champions: Vegas, Tampa Bay and Colorado. With no back-to-backs coming this week, we may see Ingram play all three games, and the competition will prove tougher save

Last Tuesday was officially the quarter-mark of the NHL season and it's appropriate to take stock of what has transpired so far. As always, it's been anything but predictable.

For starters, the three best goalies so far this season — Thatcher Demko, Cam Talbot and Adin Hill — were not ranked among the top five coming into the season. While Alexandar Georgiev leads the league in wins, his .900 save percentage and 2.90 GAA are both much worse than expected. Juuse Saros' save percentage has been equally disappointing at .900, and pre-season Vezina contender Ilya Sorokin is struggling to keep the net on Long Island.

The zero-G drafting method — where managers abstain from taking goalies early in fantasy drafts and eschew the so-called "elite" goalies knowing the position is fraught with inconsistency and unpredictability — has proven to be effective. It works in theory, but it also requires managers to keep an eye on the waiver wire and know which goalies to take a chance on.

Good thing you have this week's Goalie Report to count on.

Trending Up

Connor Ingram, Coyotes (10-3-0, .926 Sv%, 2.40 GAA)

It's safe to say that Ingram is the Coyote's No. 1. He's started six straight games since Andre Tourigny broke from his rotation, including four straight wins against the three previous Cup champions: Vegas, Tampa Bay and Colorado. With no back-to-backs coming this week, we may see Ingram play all three games, and the competition will prove tougher save for Saturday's matinee in Boston; the Coyotes have two more games at home before the weekend against the Flyers and Capitals, both of whom have trouble scoring. Ingram is rostered in a little over half of Yahoo leagues and needs to be rostered right away.

Filip Gustavsson, Wild (Past two games: 2-0-0, .961 Sv%, 1.00 GAA)

The new coach bump is real and the Wild may turn around their season after all. John Hynes is now 3-0 behind the bench and it's no surprise good goaltending has been a big reason for that. While Gustavsson has struggled for most of the season, he's started two of the past three games, indicating that Hynes is leaning toward Gustavsson as his No. 1. That's the logical move; Marc-Andre Fleury just turned 39, and he's fared even worse this season. Hold on to Gustavsson; we shall see if the coaching bump will last, but he's certainly got a hold on the No. 1 job.

Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs (8-5-1, .915 Sv%, 2.82 GAA)

If the Leafs weren't so poor defensively, Woll would have more wins and definitely a lower goals-against average. Woll has started four straight games, partially because Ilya Samsonov is dealing with an illness, but Woll has performed so admirably that it might be a mistake to go back to Samsonov when he returns. This is currently the Leafs' conundrum, and the playoff race is so tight in the East that they may not have the patience to give Samsonov the necessary starts and playing time to help him get into a groove. Woll is definitely worth rostering and holding; if he manages to keep the No. 1 job, or at least be the 1A option, he could be a top-15 fantasy goalie with the potential to rack up the wins.

Alex Lyon, Red Wings (3-1-0, .958 Sv%, 1.26 GAA)

The question is when will Lyon inevitably come back down to earth, and what the Wings will do with their three-goalie rotation. Lyon outperformed Ville Husso once again, allowing just one goal against the Hawks to Husso's four against the Habs, and there's little doubt that Lyon is the one that gives the Wings a chance to win every night. With a few teams looking for goalie help and James Reimer's name popping up in trade rumors, Lyon has the most upside right now. He's started four of their past seven games and in line for at least one more in a soft schedule coming up, facing the Sabres, Sharks and Senators.

Logan Thompson, Golden Knights (6-3-2, .918 Sv%, 2.36 GAA)

Adin Hill is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, putting Thompson in the starter's crease with Jiri Patera backing him up. Thompson hasn't been as good as Hill this season but his numbers are still excellent, and the Knights are still a top-tier team despite their recent struggles, though they're turning that around quickly. Their two straight wins over the Canucks and Capitals was the first time they've won consecutive games since Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, and with a home-and-home series against the Blues and a home game against the Sharks on Sunday, Thompson is facing some very favorable matchups with a high probability of winning. As long as Hill is out, Thompson's fantasy value gets a boost with a higher-than-normal number of starts.

Jack Campbell, Oilers (AHL numbers: (3-4-0, .893 Sv%, 3.28 GAA)

The Oilers have not called up Campbell but the word is he'll be back very soon. His first two starts with AHL Bakersfield weren't good, but over the past four games, he's posted a .917 Sv% or better three times, including a 30-save shutout win against the Henderson Silver Knights. Campbell hit rock bottom when he was assigned to the AHL, but his play has begun to trend up. He is still an incredibly risky fantasy asset, but upon his recall will get another chance to establish a timeshare with Stuart Skinner, who's yet to show he can be a reliable No. 1 starter himself. Keep an eye on Campbell, and if you're desperate for goaltending, picking up Campbell off waivers costs you nothing but a roster spot. 

Trending Down

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning (1-3-0, .859 Sv%, 3.87 GAA)

This is not the same Vasilevskiy everyone had expected. Perhaps still battling some ill effects from his back surgery, Vasilevskiy has been uncharacteristically poor. He won his first game but lost the next three, and in a rare turn of events was pulled against the Stars after allowing six goals on 25 shots. He's not getting a lot of help from his team, but his poor play is concerning for a team that's fighting for a playoff spot. There's not much fantasy owners can do except to perhaps bench Vasilevskiy until he turns it around; it's that or starting him every game and hoping that he will turn it around sooner than later. 

Is there still some value in rostering Jonas Johansson? Perhaps, but he didn't really breed a lot of confidence during his time as a starter, and the Lightning can't afford to sit Vasilevskiy on the bench. Things need to turn around for the Lightning quickly, and despite his struggles, Vasilevskiy gives them the best chance of doing so.

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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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