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Shots on Goal: Get yourself a backup plan

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

Owning backup goalies is a necessary evil for managers who prefer to stock up on elite forwards and 50-point potential defensemen early on in drafts and ignore/refuse to give in to goalie runs. The expectation for owning a backup is usually somewhere between 20-35 starts, sometimes less. How many owners drafted Jhonas Enroth for his 15-20 starts? The point of this exercise is that owning backup goalies can be like owning a lottery ticket. When Ryan Miller got steamrolled by Milan Lucic, it propelled Enroth from being a top-10 backup to a top-10 starting goalie. As it's impossible to accurately predict the recovery time for concussions, owning Enroth can change the balance of power in your league. He's 7-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and already has a shutout.

In this week's edition we'll look at teams with various levels of uncertainty with regard to their goalie situation, whether it be due to injury in goal, poor play in nets, porous defense or some other calamity.

Boston

In our last edition of SOG, on Halloween, we called the B's poor start an aberration. They are 7-0 since. Tim Thomas is up to 7-4 for the season with similar peripherals to last season -- 2.09 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask is 3-0 in November after an 0-3 October and sports a 2.32 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. One thing we did not see coming was the huge leap forward in Tyler Seguin's progression of NHL learning. After 22 points in 74 games last season, Seguin has 11 goals and 20 points in 17 games so far this season and a ridiculous plus-15 defensive rating. Seguin is six points ahead of the nearest Bruin forward, Milan Lucic, in team scoring. Can he keep up the pace? No, he cannot, but he should finish with 25-plus goals and 60-plus points.

Buffalo

By now it's most likely too late to pick up Jhonas Enroth. However, if you need a No. 4 or No. 5 D-man, Marc-Andre Gragnani should be seeing more regular deployment with fellow Buffalo D-man Mike Weber out indefinitely after sustaining what the team's calling an upper body injury at New Jersey on Wednesday.

Colorado

Semyon Varlamov's backup, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, is outplaying him. While Varlamov is 0-4 in his last four starts with 15 goals allowed and just 77 saves on 92 shots (a woeful .837 save percentage), Giguere is 4-0 on the season with a 1.68 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. This situation is very fluid. If you're in need of a No. 3 or No. 4 roto goalie, go ahead and pick up JSG.

Columbus

The situation in Columbus remains fairly miserable. Owning Steve Mason, who's 3-12-1 with a 3.63 goals-against average and .875 save percentage, seems rather pointless. Speaking of miserable, defenseman James Wisniewski is a minus-10 in 10 games and purported No. 1 center Jeff Carter has but three assists in eight games. Carter's agent denies that Carter wants to be traded but who would want to trade for a center with a bloated long-term contract, a bad foot, a history of hard partying and one who doesn't play to his size?

Some managers in need of goalie help have been picking up Curtis Sanford, the 32-year-old backup journeyman. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Goalie prospect Mark Dekanich, a star in the AHL the past two seasons, has suffered a groin injury and his return could be anywhere from a week to a month, according to Columbus GM Scott Howson. Dekanich may be their best bet in nets but he has to stay healthy enough to play a couple of games for their AHL affiliate before he'll get any chance to start in Columbus.

Edmonton

Any time a team plays way above expectations, there's bound to be some sort of market correction. Similarly, when a player is putting up numbers far ahead of any sane projection, a correction is in order. Case in point -- Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabby had an insane 0.95 goals-against average and stunning .962 save percentage after three starts to the season. Those numbers have adjusted to 1.74 goals-against average and .937 save percentage and they will continue to slide back. He's lost his last three starts and stopped just 60 of his last 71 shots -- an .845 save percentage.

Realistically, Khabibulin is a No. 3 Fantasy goalie but right now, with the Oilers decimated by injury on the blueline (Cam Barker out three months after ankle surgery, Ryan Whitney is perpetually injured, Corey Potter out with a sprained ankle, Sutton out with a groin injury), he's more like a No. 4 Fantasy goalie. Devan Dubnyk will also get his fair share of the goalie starts. Neither is better than a spot starter presently until the blue line gets some more healthy bodies back.

Florida

Jacob Markstrom went back down to the AHL when Scott Clemmensen returned from injury. Clemmensen then won his first start of the season, with a shutout (no less) vs. Dallas. That got my full attention - I immediately picked him up in one experts' league. Even though 35-year-old Jose Theodore has been excellent value thus far ($1.5 million) with a 6-4-2 record, 2.49 goals-against average and .920 save percentage for the Panthers, he's averaged only 44 starts over the previous five seasons due to an array of injuries and, at times, inconsistent play. With 68 games left in the season, Clemmensen should see at least 25-30 starts.

Minnesota

Josh Harding had a nice run but it's all over now, as Niklas Backstrom is 3-0 in his last three starts with a 1.33 goals-against average and a shutout. Moreover, Backstrom has two shutouts in five November starts along with a 4-1 record. Meanwhile Harding was pulled in his last start, after winning four straight. Amazingly, the Wild are 11-5-3 this season. Sadly, they play the trap and put on a rather dull display of hockey while scoring just 2.32 goals per game. Backstrom owners don't care, as long as they win more than they lose.

New Jersey

Martin Brodeur will start Saturday vs. Tampa Bay after beating Buffalo on Wednesday. Johan Hedberg had two straight starts prior to Wednesday's game, both against tough opponents, in winning at Washington Nov. 12 before losing at Boston three days later. The Devils could go on a run now that Ilya Kovalchuk is back in the lineup but it looks as though there will be some sort of a time share in nets for the two aging netminders for the foreseeable future.

N.Y. Islanders

It's been difficult for Al Montoya owners. The three ring circus has been painful to watch. Rick DiPietro has been healthy of late while the Isles have been trying to showcase Evgeni Nabokov. The situation is slowly improving for Montoya owners, as Nabokov is out indefinitely with a groin injury after getting injured Thursday vs. Montreal. Nabokov will be out at least three weeks. Now Montoya needs to get healthy. He's day-to-day with a groin injury. For now Rick D. has the nets to himself but Montoya's chance will come soon enough. Despite all the barriers, Montoya remains their best goalie.

Phoenix

Mike Smith has proven us all wrong. With an 8-3-3 record, 2.17 GAA, .934 save percentage, and a shutout in 14 starts, Smith has been beyond impressive. It also makes us realize that the defense, led by Keith Yandle, Adrian Aucoin and Derek Morris, is vastly underrated. Ditto for rookie defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has four goals and seven points in 17 games. Our thoughts go out to the Coyotes' No. 2 center Daymond Langkow, who's on a leave of absence due to a death in his immediate family. Langkow could return to the lineup Wednesday against Anaheim.

St. Louis

When the Blues changed coaches most figured that Jaroslav Halak would get the lion's share of starts, as Hitch is not known as a guy who juggles goalies. As such I dropped backup Brian Elliott in an experts' league and, of course, he immediately posts a shutout then beats Detroit. That's painful but the fact remains that Hitch went back to Halak in the next game while stating to the media that Halak is his unquestioned No. 1 goalie. Hence, if you own Elliott you can't expect more than one start per week unless he posts a shutout. Halak is the No. 1 goalie here, despite Elliott's 7-1 record, 1.43 goals-against average and two shutouts. In other news, if you need a No. 4 or No. 5 D-man, take a long look at the recently acquired Kris Russell. Russell has two goals in three games and is getting decent power play time on the second unit.

Tampa Bay

Dwayne Roloson has won three of his last four starts while Mathieu Garon is winless in his last three appearances. Owning Garon requires patience, for the fact remains that he will get 30-35 starts backing up the NHL's oldest player. The Tampa Bay defense continues to miss Mattias Ohlund (out another 3-4 weeks). Surprisingly, Eric Brewer has averaged 4:09 on the power play during the past two games. Those in deeper leagues may want to keep an eye out on the situation.

Toronto

James Reimer, out since Oct. 22 with a concussion, was on the ice with goalie consultant Francois Allaire before practice on Friday. He was skating and passing the puck with Allaire in full equipment. That's great news for Reimer fans and Leafs Nation. Ben Scrivens has started the last four games and appears to have usurped Jonas Gustavsson. Gustavsson has stopped just 41 of his last 49 shots (.837 save percentage) over his last 120 minutes in goal whereas Scrivens is 1-2-1 during his last four starts with 10 goals allowed in stopping 108 of 118 shots (.915 save percentage).

Vancouver

Roberto Luongo owners have to be happy these days, even if Bobby Lou is injured (upper body). Why should they be happy? Because backup goalie Cory Schneider has failed to capitalize on the situation. Schneider has allowed five goals in each of his last two starts. Moreover, the backup hasn't won a game since October 22. Luongo should be back by early next week, with Sunday's tilt vs. Ottawa looking like Schneider's last start for a long while.

Winnipeg

Ondrej Pavelec has started the past 11 games but user beware as in two of those starts he allowed a total 10 goals on 60 shots -- that's a 5.00 goals-against average and .833 save percentage. Thankfully for Pavelec owners who use him as a No. 2, he's stopped 86 of 91 shots over his last three starts -- a 1.67 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. Backup Chris Mason, who hasn't played since injuring his groin Oct. 27 vs. Philadelphia, has been activated off injured reserve. Mason will likely see a start next weekend when the Jets play back-to-back at Carolina Friday and at Boston Saturday. The Jets' offense should get a boost when Winnipeg native Eric Fehr makes his debut this week, possible as soon as Saturday. The former WHL scoring leader has scored 20 goals before and the hope is that playing in his hometown will rejuvenate him and perhaps propel him to play more physical and use that 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame to his advantage.

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Player News
Mike Hoffman
Hoffman Awarded One-Year Deal In Arbitration
Mike Hoffman, LW, OTT
12:54 AM
News: Mike Hoffman was awarded a one-year, $2 million contract Monday after going to arbitration with the Senators.
Analysis: It's a bargain deal for the Senators, especially when considering Mike Hoffman was reportedly seeking a $3.4 million contract, while Ottawa countered with $1.75 million. Hoffman was certainly justified in requesting the larger amount. The 25-year-old racked up 48 points (27 goals, 21 assists) over 79 games in what was his first full-time NHL campaign in 2014-15. He will return as a top-six forward for the Senators this season, and could take his production up a notch if he can stay healthy.

James Reimer
Leafs' Reimer: "Open Competition" In Net At Camp
James Reimer, G, TOR
8/3/2015
News: James Reimer will enter training camp with the opportunity to seize the number one role or at least a platoon, according to Toronto Star. "I think that right now I have a total open mind [to both goalies], and certainly I know Mike has the same," said new general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Analysis: James Reimer started 27 games in 2014-15 and delivered a meagre 9-16-1 record with a 3.16 GAA and .907 save percentage. He sure didn't do enough to earn starter's minutes, but will enter camp in an open competition with Jonathan Bernier. It's the third straight season with Reimer and Bernier splitting goaltending duties.

Jonathan Bernier
Bernier Not Guaranteed Leafs' Starting Job
Jonathan Bernier, G, TOR
8/3/2015
News: New general manager Lou Lamoriello envisions the Leafs' goaltending job as an open competition and indicates that head coach Mike Babcock feels the same way, according to the Toronto Star. "I think that right now I have a total open mind, and certainly I know Mike has the same," Lamoriello said. This will be the third straight season with Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer splitting goaltending duties.
Analysis: Lamoriello did indicate that Jonathan Bernier "has the ability, no question" to be a number one goalie in the NHL, but the twinetender hasn't shown the consistency in his game to take that job. And it's that inconsistency that has prevented him from getting a long-term deal with the Leafs. He just inked a two-year contract with the hope he can show the team he deserves a long-term, big-money deal. "Hopefully he has a year that pushes us, that is the organization, to speak to him next summer and looking for long term," continued Lamoriello.

Louis Domingue
Coyotes' Domingue Bound For Europe In 2015-16
Louis Domingue, G, ARI
8/3/2015
News: Louis Domingue will head to Europe for the 2015-16 season after opting not to sign his two-way qualifying offer with the Coyotes, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: With the Coyotes adding Anders Lindback to presumably serve as the backup to starter Mike Smith next season, Louis Domingue determined that playing overseas would be preferable to spending another year in the minors. The Coyotes will still retain his rights for the next four years, and with Lindback set to become a free agent next summer, it's quite possible that Domingue will be brought back in as one of Arizona's two goalies in 2016-17. The 23-year-old fared reasonably well in limited duty with the parent club last season, going 1-2-1 with a 2.73 GAA and .911 save percentage over seven appearances.

Aaron Dell
Dell Inks One-Year Deal With Sharks
Aaron Dell, G, SJ
8/3/2015
News: Aaron Dell signed a one-year contract with the Sharks on Monday.
Analysis: The 26-year-old goaltender was solid in 26 games with AHL Worcester in 2014-15, posting a 2.06 GAA and a .927 save percentage in those contests. He will likely serve as the Sharks' primary AHL goaltender this season.

Brooks Orpik
Caps' Orpik Likely Ready For Opener
Brooks Orpik, D, WAS
8/3/2015
News: General manager Brian MacLellan indicated Monday that he expects Brooks Orpik (wrist) to be ready for the beginning of the season, Dan Rosen of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Brooks Orpik is expected to begin full workout activities within a week or two, barring a setback, so it should provide him plenty of time to recover before the season begins. Assuming that's indeed the case, he should open the season among the top two pairings, and could pick up a fair number of assists while working with the likes of Alex Ovechkin and offseason addition T.J. Oshie.

Nicklas Backstrom
Caps' Backstrom Starts Skating
Nicklas Backstrom, C, WAS
8/3/2015
News: General manager Brian MacLellan indicated Monday that Nicklas Backstrom (hip) recently began skating again, Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press reports.
Analysis: Nicklas Backstrom's status for the beginning of the season remains in doubt after offseason hip surgery, but he's at least progressing. The Capitals haven't released an official timeline for the top-line center, but it should clear up as the season draws near. If Backstrom is unavailable to begin the campaign, Evgeny Kuznetsov seems the likely candidate to center the top line, which would give him a significant increase in fantasy value.

Erik Haula
Wild, Haula Reach Agreement On New Deal
Erik Haula, LW, MIN
8/2/2015
News: Erik Haula signed a two-year, $2 million contract with the Wild on Sunday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Rather than take their contract dispute to court, Erik Haula and the team were able to come to terms on a new agreement before the arbitration case was slated to be heard. Haula, who was the last of the Wild's unrestricted free agents, is now expected to be penciled in as the team's fourth-line center to open the upcoming campaign.

Brandon Sutter
Canucks, Sutter Closing In On Big Deal
Brandon Sutter, C, VAN
8/1/2015
News: Brandon Sutter and the Canucks are closing in on a contract extension that could be worth more than $20 million over five years, reports Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada.
Analysis: Orca's general manager Jim Benning wasn't kidding when he described Brandon Sutter as a 'foundational' piece for his club. At that cash, the Orcas must believe Sutter is the solution for their second-line woes. He's been a No. 3 guy through his career, but could step up playing alongside scoring wingers. Monitor this heading to camp.

Marcus Johansson
Johansson Inks One-Year Deal With Capitals
Marcus Johansson, C, WAS
7/31/2015
News: Marcus Johansson signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Capitals on Friday, James Mirtle of TSN 1050 Radio reports.
Analysis: Marcus Johansson was a solid offensive contributor for the Capitals in 2014-15, racking up 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games, good for fourth best on the team. He will return to his role as a top-six forward with Washington this season, and will likely continue to be a part of the Capitals' top power-play unit. The 24-year-old is a versatile winger who, barring injury, should be similarly productive this season.

 
 
 
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