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Shots on Goal: Starting to fall

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

What is happening to starting goalies this season? Well, injuries and poor play is happening to many of them. If you're like this writer you were extremely bullish on Washington acquiring Tomas Vokoun. How's that working out for you? Then there's the case of Jaroslav Halak, another Czech goalie that we were handicapping to be a solid No. 2 Fantasy goalie, worthy of a seventh round selection in 12-team leagues that start two netminders. Suffice to say that there have been some significant developments league-wide that have turned goalie rankings upside down. It's sort of like what's happened in the NFL this season at quarterback. In September would you have thought that guys like Tyler Palko, Caleb Hanie, Matt Leinart and Vince Young would be starting games Week 12?

We're adding an extra bonus feature in this week's column. Why? Well, because we're good people. Actually the real reason is because we've found ourselves overly preoccupied with depth defensemen lately dues to the fact that Tobias Enstrom or Ryan Whitney is on virtually every one of this writer's roto squads this season. Thus, this week's theme - the replacements - encompasses both changes between the pipes and injury replacement opportunities for those needing some blue line help due to injuries to studs like Mike Green, Alex Goligoski, Chris Pronger, Andrei Markov, Tyler Myers, Tobias Enstrom, etc.

Buffalo

Jhonas Enroth continues to see all of the starts for Buffalo with Ryan Miller out at least another 10-14 days due to a concussion. Enroth's play has dipped a bit of late, with three goals or more allowed in three of his last four starts. Buffalo has significant injuries outside of the crease as well (Myers, Regehr, Ennis, Kaleta, Boyes, Stafford, Weber, McCormick) and this could be having a negative effect on Enroth's peripherals. If you are looking for a depth D-man, both Jordan Leopold and Marc-Andre Gragnani are worth a look. Leopold has five goals already after posting a career-high last season while Gragnani is getting the second highest amount of power-play time on the Sabres after Christian Ehrhoff.

Colorado

After seven straight losses that saw him post a 4.17 goals-against average and .847 save percentage, Semyon Varlamov finally won a November start on Saturday against Edmonton while stopping 31 of 33 shots (.939 save percentage). Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 2-2 in four November starts with a 1.75 goals-against average. Varlamov has 16 starts to JSG's seven and we like that ratio (70 percent of total starts going to Varlamov) to remain relatively consistent throughout the season.

Stefan Elliott, a superstar defenseman in junior hockey with 241 points in 282 games with a ridiculous plus-104 defensive rating, played over 19 minutes Saturday in his first NHL game and scored the game-winner vs. Edmonton. Pick him up ASAP if you need a defenseman, as he just may be this year's Kevin Shattenkirk.

Columbus

Steve Mason remains concussed while Curtis Sanford has been a huge surprise with his stellar play. Sometimes we get caught up in the promise of a blue chip prospect (like Mark Dekanich) and we ignore the steady veteran backup. Sanford played well for Vancouver in his last chance in the Big League, three years ago and he's starting to make us doubters reconsider our possible rush to judgment. The 32-year-old backup journeyman is 3-0-2 in six appearances with an insane 1.27 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. While he can't possibly maintain those stats, he is the No. 1 goalie in Columbus for the immediate future. Moreover, with Columbus finally starting to play some decent hockey, he's actually worthy of being used as a No. 2 or No. 3 Fantasy goalie these days. If you're thin on defense take a gander at Fedor Tyutin, who has been playing well of late (three points in last four games) and has a regular gig on the Jackets' first power play unit across from James Wisniewski. Another defenseman to consider is Nikita Nikitin, who has four assists in his last six games and is third on the Jackets in power play time amongst defensemen.

Dallas

Kari Lehtonen has a groin injury and you should immediately pick up Andrew Raycroft. While the extent of Lehtonen's injury remains unknown we do know that he's had numerous groin injuries over the course of his NHL career. Yes, Raycroft's stats this year are horrendous, but he's only seen the ice five times and teams often circle the wagons and rally around the backup when the No. 1 goes down with injury. Speaking of injuries, top defender Alex Goligoski has missed eight games already and likely won't be back until around Dec. 10. Nobody misses Goligoski more than Sheldon Souray, who has failed to register a point since Goligoski was injured Nov. 11 at Pittsburgh. Their other top defenseman, Stephane Robidas, has just one point since Goligoski went out.

Edmonton

While Nikolai Khabibulin is No. 1 in Edmonton, and clearly outplaying Devan Dubnyk, injuries are starting to mount. Not only is half of their starting top-six on defense injured - Cam Barker (ankle surgery), Corey Potter (sprained ankle), Andy Sutton (groin injury) - but no they've lost Taylor Hall to a shoulder injury. If you need some defense Tom Gilbert has really picked up his play over the last five games with five points, three on the power play, along with four PIMs and a plus-4 defensive rating.

Florida

This writer continues to be amazed at 35-year-old Jose Theodore. Theodore just keeps winning, and with Jacob Markstrom getting shelled Saturday and Scott Clemmensen battling soreness after just one start (albeit a shutout), Theodore seems safely entrenched as the No. 1 goalie on a competitive upstart Panthers team. As such we are adjusting our estimate for starts for Clemmensen from 25-30 starts to 15-20 starts.

Minnesota

Josh Harding got another chance to shine when Niklas Backstrom briefly left the team for personal reasons. Harding went 2-1 but lost his last effort, 4-2 to Edmonton. Backstrom, who is 3-0 in his last three starts, should get that start on Sunday when they host Calgary. On defense, with Marek Zidlicky out with a concussion, defenseman Jared Spurgeon is seeing an increase in power-play deployment. Spurgeon has three assists in his last six games, all on the power play. Moreover, he's averaged over 5 minutes with the man advantage over his past two games.

N.Y. Islanders

Patience is a virtue and Al Montoya owners have finally been rewarded for being virtuous. Montoya, a superior talent to Rick DiPietro, may have finally taken over as No. 1 on the Island. With Evgeni Nabokov out indefinitely and Rick D. the stiff that we know he is, Montoya actually started and won a game this weekend.

Philadelphia

Sergei Bobrovsky is getting more starts than we anticipated heading into the season. Bob has a 5-2-1 record but his 2.82 goals-against average needs to come down for him to be an effective No. 3 roto goalies. Similarly, Ilya Bryzgalov (8-5-2) has to bring down his 2.89 goals ag. They each have a .900 save percentage. What makes it harder to get that goals-against average down for both is the lack of depth on defense. When Chris Pronger is out, as he is from time to time, they are really thin and inexperienced on defense. Andreas Lilja is out indefinitely and they have had to bring up reinforcements from their AHL team (Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall). The situation is further exacerbated by the injury to promising defenseman Erik Gustafsson (wrist surgery), who's out until January.

St. Louis

Backup Brian Elliott continues to play outstanding hockey for new Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. Jaroslav Halak owner will have to wait until Elliott cools off before Halak returns to the No. 1 spot. As goalie starts are hard to come by, Halak owners should be targeting the likes of Raycroft or Sanford for the short term (assuming that Elliott is not available in their leagues).

Tampa Bay

Dwayne Roloson has taken a backseat to Mathieu Garon. Garon started and won both games in their home-and-home weekend series against Florida. Garon stopped 47 of 49 shots in the process -- a .959 save percentage. Pick up Garon if you have goalie starts to spare, as this is a legitimate time-share with Roloson for the foreseeable future and Garon has the current advantage.

Toronto

James Reimer has been practicing and should be back by mid-December, perhaps even earlier. Jonas Gustavsson has won three in a row, which has us astounded. He could make it four in a row Sunday at Anaheim but we still (stubbornly?) have little confidence in his long-term proficiency. While we continue to doubt the ability of Gustavsson as a No. 1 NHL goalie, we are coming around when it comes to Toronto as a team. The Leafs are a viable team for the 8th playoff seed if Reimer comes back before Christmas. They have more depth at forward than since they had Sundin, Thomas, Roberts, Tucker (aka Krusty the Clown). On defense, Mike Komisarek getting hurt was a blessing, as Cody Franson has all the tools, as does the kid Jake Gardiner. The Swede in goal, though, is a mirage. Franson may be worth considering if you're in dire need of blue line help, as he has three points in his last four games. Just don't expect many shots on goal because he's only got one in four games.

Vancouver

Roberto Luongo is on the bench due to an amazing run by backup goalie Cory Schneider. Initially it was a Luongo injury that pressed Schneider into service and he did not fare well in his first start while allowing five goals in a loss to Chicago. However, since that loss Schneider has gone 4-0 with a 0.74 goals-against average and .975 save percentage, including two shutouts and a fantastic 43-save effort at the Shark Tank. Schneider should get the next start, Tuesday against Columbus. Luongo and his owners will have to wait until Schneider cools down before Bobby Lou can get back between the pipes.

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Player News
Elias Lindholm
Lindholm Signs Two-Year Extension With Hurricanes
Elias Lindholm, C, CAR
2:17 PM
News: Elias Lindholm signed a two-year, $5.4 million contract extension with the Hurricanes on Thursday.
Analysis: Elias Lindholm was a solid contributor in his first full NHL season in 2014-15, registering 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 81 games with the team. He will return to his role as a top-six forward with Carolina this season, and should have a great shot at improving upon his offensive numbers from a year ago as he continues his development as an NHL forward.

Patrik Berglund
Blues' Berglund To Require Shoulder Surgery
Patrik Berglund, C, STL
10:19 AM
News: Patrik Berglund aggravated a dislocated right shoulder while working out and is set to undergo surgery Friday, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He'll require at least four months of recovery time.
Analysis: Patrik Berglund first dislocated the shoulder in 2013-14, and required surgery last offseason to address the issue. The center was able to recover in time from that procedure to play on Opening Night last season, but given how late in the offseason calendar the setback occurred this time around, it looks like Berglund won't take the ice again until the calendar flips to 2016. His extended absence could allow prospect Robby Fabbri to claim third-line center duties out of training camp, with veteran Scott Gomez also in the mix if coach Ken Hitchcock prefers a more experienced option for that role.

Scott Gomez
Gomez Signs PTO With Blues
Scott Gomez, C, NJ
10:08 AM
News: Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer with the Blues on Thursday, Andy Strickland of FOX Sports Midwest reports.
Analysis: After failing to garner a contract in free agency for the second straight offseason, Scott Gomez will again head to training camp on a PTO, as he did last season in New Jersey. Though he wasn't able to crack the Devils' Opening Night roster, he continued to work out with the team after the tryout period ended and was eventually signed to the team when injuries opened up an opportunity in late November. Gomez would end the season as one of the more productive contributors on the offensively challenged Devils, finishing third on the team with 34 points. The Blues boast a far deeper roster of forward talent, but with the news surfacing after Gomez's signing that Patrik Berglund would miss at least four months following shoulder surgery, an opening on the third line could exist for the 35-year-old.

Max Pacioretty
Habs' Pacioretty Still On Schedule With Rehab
Max Pacioretty, LW, MON
8:54 AM
News: Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said recently that Max Pacioretty (knee) remains on schedule in the rehabilitation process, Arpon Basu of LNH.com reports.
Analysis: Max Pacioretty sustained the knee injury while working out in Florida in early July, and was given a projected recovery timetable of 10-to-12 weeks. Given the length of the timetable, Pacioretty is expected to sit out all of training camp, and while his availability for the Oct. 7 regular-season opener in Toronto remains possible, he'd likely be subjected to limited minutes in the early going as he looks to build endurance. Once back to full health, Pacioretty should reemerge as the Habs' most dangerous offensive option after he potted 37 goals and a career-high 67 points in 2014-15.

Ladislav Smid
Flames Expecting Smid Back For Training Camp
Ladislav Smid, D, CGY
8:45 AM
News: The Flames' front office believes Ladislav Smid (neck) will be ready to skate during the team's first on-ice session at training camp in September, the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: Ladislav Smid's season came to an end last January when he required surgery on his neck, but his communication with the Flames to this point in the offseason suggests he has recovered well from the procedure. If healthy, Smid will compete in camp with Deryk Engelland for a spot as Calgary's sixth defenseman.

Sidney Crosby
Pens' Crosby Likely To Play Next To Kessel
Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
8:35 AM
News: Coach Mike Johnston said earlier this week that Sidney Crosby is expected to play next to Phil Kessel to begin training camp, CBS Sports reports.
Analysis: The Penguins have cycled in a number of right wingers next to Sidney Crosby throughout his career, and while Patric Hornqvist proved capable in that capacity last season, he's not nearly as prolific at finding twine as Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer. With his health concerns beginning to fade away after missing only seven games over the last two seasons, Crosby once again looks like a reasonable choice at No. 1 overall in fantasy drafts, even after scoring only 28 goals in 2014-15, his lowest total in any year he's suited up for at least 60 contests. Crosby probably won't come close to approaching the 51-goal peak he reached in 2009-10, but a slight uptick in his anomalous 11.8 shooting percentage coupled with the likely increase in assist opportunities with Kessel blitzing the net could make a return to 100 points conceivable.

Mike Richards
Charges Announced For Ex-King Richards
Mike Richards, C, LA
7:39 AM
News: Mike Richards was formally charged with possession of a controlled substance while entering Canada stemming from a June 17 border stop by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
Analysis: The Kings determined the incident gave them just cause to release Mike Richards for a "material breach" of his 12-year contract, a decision that prompted the NHL Players Association to file a grievance. The nature of the border stop likely won't affect the outcome of that legal battle, as both the NHLPA and the Kings were aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Currently a free agent, Richards is able to sign with any team while the grievance remains underway, but his steep decline in performance over the last few seasons coupled with this ongoing dispute probably has few organizations interested in his services.

Kyle Okposo
Isles Begin Contract Talks With Okposo
Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI
8/26/2015
News: Kyle Okposo and the Islanders have begun talks on a new contract, according to Islanders Point Blank.
Analysis: Both sides are hoping to get an agreement done before the start of the season but the parameters on a new deal could be difficult to negotiate. Kyle Okposo will make $4.5 million this season and could command a deal north of $6 million per year on the open market, a figure the Islanders may not be willing to approach at this time. If the two sides can't come to an agreement before the start of the season then Okposo's name will be one we will hear quite often in trade rumors.

Sami Aittokallio
Avs Re-Sign Aittokallio
Sami Aittokallio, G, COL
8/26/2015
News: Sami Aittokallio has re-signed with the Avalanche on a one-year, two-way contract, General Fanager reports.
Analysis: Sami Aittokallio appears to be the clear No. 4 goalie in the Colorado organization behind Semyon Varlamov, Calvin Pickard, and Reto Berra, so it's somewhat surprising he elected to commit for another year rather than bolt for Europe. Even so, Aittokallio's contract does at least include a clause for him to play overseas if he isn't guaranteed a roster spot with the Avalanche, potentially opening the door for him to leave the club if he's assigned to the AHL out of training camp, as expected.

Adam Cracknell
Canucks Ink Cracknell To Two-Way Deal
Adam Cracknell, RW, VAN
8/26/2015
News: Adam Cracknell signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Canucks on Tuesday.
Analysis: Mostly due to the Blue Jackets' array of injuries last season, Adam Cracknell saw 17 games at the NHL level, producing no goals and one assist. He'll function as an organizational depth piece for the Canucks, but will once again require several players to go down before skating in the NHL. Even if that materializes, he'd likely be limited to a bottom-six role with limited ice time.

 
 
 
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