The Goalie Report: Risers & Fallers

The Goalie Report: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our The Goalie Report series.

Just when you thought the Hurricanes had figured out their goaltending, Pyotr Kochetkov suffers a concussion and Antti Raanta is pressed into action.

And just when you thought Martin Jones had secured the starting job for the Maple Leafs, a back-to-back pops up and Ilya Samsonov is also pressed into action.

It's been that kind of season for goaltending across the league, but the theme this week is both a return to form for goalies previously forgotten or cast aside, but also the emergence of a few goalies who are really threatening to take over the starting job.

Here's what you need to know.

Trending Up

Jacob Markstrom, Flames (Since Dec. 18: 7-3-0, .936 Sv%, 2.02 GAA)

This is the Markstrom we know and remember. Since returning from injury, Markstrom has been excellent and the Flames' offense has also come alive. They're winning a lot of games and Markstrom has now returned to must-start status. He's also a workhorse, having started 10 of the past 12 games for the Flames.

Samuel Ersson, Flyers (11-5-3, .910 Sv%, 2.33 GAA)

Unless Carter Hart strings together a bunch of impressive performances, the Flyers have to split the starts. With an excellent 35-save shutout against the Jets on Saturday, Ersson has earned the chance to start more games. That was his 13th quality start in 18 starts, according to hockey-reference.com, which puts Ersson in the upper tier of goalies.

He's gotten a vote of confidence from John Tortorella, who doesn't mind riding

Just when you thought the Hurricanes had figured out their goaltending, Pyotr Kochetkov suffers a concussion and Antti Raanta is pressed into action.

And just when you thought Martin Jones had secured the starting job for the Maple Leafs, a back-to-back pops up and Ilya Samsonov is also pressed into action.

It's been that kind of season for goaltending across the league, but the theme this week is both a return to form for goalies previously forgotten or cast aside, but also the emergence of a few goalies who are really threatening to take over the starting job.

Here's what you need to know.

Trending Up

Jacob Markstrom, Flames (Since Dec. 18: 7-3-0, .936 Sv%, 2.02 GAA)

This is the Markstrom we know and remember. Since returning from injury, Markstrom has been excellent and the Flames' offense has also come alive. They're winning a lot of games and Markstrom has now returned to must-start status. He's also a workhorse, having started 10 of the past 12 games for the Flames.

Samuel Ersson, Flyers (11-5-3, .910 Sv%, 2.33 GAA)

Unless Carter Hart strings together a bunch of impressive performances, the Flyers have to split the starts. With an excellent 35-save shutout against the Jets on Saturday, Ersson has earned the chance to start more games. That was his 13th quality start in 18 starts, according to hockey-reference.com, which puts Ersson in the upper tier of goalies.

He's gotten a vote of confidence from John Tortorella, who doesn't mind riding the hot hand. For fantasy managers looking for goalie help, Ersson is definitely worth picking up. The Flyers don't provide the best goal support, but they're a hard-working group with a blueline that's just been bolstered by the acquisition of Jamie Drysdale.

Antti Raanta, Hurricanes (Since Dec. 28: 3-0-1, .930 Sv%, 1.69 GAA)

It certainly is surprising to see Raanta put up these numbers since returning from his AHL stint, where he had a .875 save percentage in two games. With Kochetkov out with a concussion, Raanta has taken over the Canes' net, and he'll get the majority of the starts since fourth-string Yaniv Perets doesn't seem to have his coaches' confidence at this level yet. (Frederik Andersen remains unavailable).

We shall see if Raanta keeps this up, but the Canes are also much better now than they were at the beginning of the season. There's a lot of risk because Raanta could implode at any second, but there aren't many quality goalies available on the waiver wire at this time of the season. Given the quantity of starts and the quality of the team in front of him, Raanta's at least worth a stash.

Nico Daws, Devils (3-1-0, .916 Sv%, 2.77 GAA)

There's just no way the Devils can go back to Vitek Vanecek. Daws was impressive in a 36-save performance against the Panthers, whose winning streak was stopped at nine games. A third-round pick from 2020, Daws was a highly-touted prospect but missed significant time over the past two seasons due to hip surgery. He's healthy now and poised to take over the Devils' net. If you're looking for a young goalie with plenty of upside, especially on a team that's potentially very good, Daws is your guy.

Charlie Lindgren, Capitals (8-4-3, .929 Sv%, 2.24 GAA)

It was very, very telling when the Caps elected to start Lindgren in back-to-back games against the Rangers. Though the two teams split the series, Lindgren was undoubtedly one of the stars, stopping 54 of 58 shots (.931 Sv%), and he might be the de facto starter this time next week. Darcy Kuemper's performances has just been too volatile this season, and his stats (.891 Sv%, 3.27 GAA) pale in comparison to Lindgren's. According to naturalstattrick.com, Lindgren's goals saved above expected per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 ranks 9th in the league (min. 500 TOI), just below Jeremy Swayman and ahead of Ilya Sorokin.

The Caps offense remains subpar with Father Time catching up to Alex Ovechkin, and most of their star players from yesteryear — John Carlson, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom chief among them — are either no longer playing or getting long in the tooth. That's the big drawback with Lindgren, who's still two wins behind Kuemper — go figure — but at the very least, Lindgren offers good peripheral stats in save percentage and goals against.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Sabres (Since Jan. 1: 2-1-0, .946 Sv%, 1.68 GAA)

Devon Levi is rostered in roughly 10 times as many leagues as Luukkonen, but that doesn't make much sense. Luukkonen has been far better and even held an excellent Canucks offense to just one goal in a 1-0 loss Saturday. As with any young goalie, Luukkonen's play can be quite volatile, but he should be rostered in as many, if not more, fantasy leagues than Levi.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs (Sunday vs. Detroit: 20 of 23 saves, 3.04 GAA)

It wasn't the best start, but it was a step in the right direction. The Leafs held a one-goal lead on two separate occasions before a three-goal barrage in the third period ruined Samsonov's return to the crease following a brief demotion to the AHL.

Let's keep in mind Samsonov is only 26 years old while Martin Jones, as good as he's been lately, is a 34-year-old who's known for playing well for only a few months of the season, at best. The No. 1 is still going to be Joseph Woll, but until he returns, the Leafs are stuck with Jones and Samsonov. I'm curious to see how Samsonov fares down the stretch; despite the loss, this was a confidence booster and it's not like he lost the ability to stop a puck overnight. I think there's some fantasy value to be had, although the risks are quite obvious. If you have the roster space, I don't mind stashing Samsonov and seeing what happens over the next couple of weeks.

Trending Down

Adin Hill, Golden Knights (10-2-2, .933 Sv%, 1.93 GAA)

Hard to be trending down when you haven't played since Dec. 17, but Hill's recovery has been a bit of a head scratcher. He was originally slated to start Wednesday against the Avalanche but was suddenly scratched. The Knights ended up starting Jiri Patera, who is now injured, and fourth-string Isaiah Saville is now backing up Logan Thompson, whose .905 save percentage is a bit worrisome.

When a goalie misses a scheduled start so suddenly, it makes me wonder if there's been a setback to Hill's recovery. He remains on IR and also did not participate in Saturday's practice. Hill's status is trending down with this setback and still has no set return date.

Jesper Wallstedt, Wild (NHL debut: 27 of 34 saves, 7.00 GAA)

This was not the start the Wild and Wallstedt had envisioned after the highly-touted and future franchise goalie was called in to give Marc-André Fleury a break. The Wild figured they'd give Wallstedt a chance with Filip Gustavsson on the verge of returning, but it was a disaster, with Wallstedt allowing seven goals.

We can't hang the loss on Wallstedt alone, but it also shows that perhaps he's not quite ready. With Fleury and Gustavsson both healthy, Wallstedt has returned to the AHL, and he's unlikely to have any significant fantasy impact until next season at the earliest.

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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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