Dobber launched his fantasy hockey website DobberHockey back in 2005 and has been Puck Daddy's resident fantasy hockey 'expert' since 2009.
Most teams are about six or seven games into the season and poolies are starting to get antsy about their goaltenders. But this happens every year – a handful of reliable or promising goalies get off to horrible starts and in fantasy hockey – knee-jerk reactions abound. Take a deep breath. Some of these guys will still be money for you.
Here are some struggling netminders - and how you should play them…
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins – Rask is a two-time 30-game winner in the heart of his prime and he’s Boston’s Golden Boy. They’ll sink or swim with him, which is one reason why Niklas Svedberg left in the summer – little hope of playing time. He’ll keep getting thrown out there until he figures it out. But the problem is that Boston isn’t the 45-plus win team that they once were. So while his SV% will crawl back up above 0.920, matching last year’s 34 wins is doubtful.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets – The 0-5-0 Bobrovsky has a savior now. New coach John Tortorella will save the day, surely. Don’t call you Shirley? Bob has been a steady 0.920 SV% guy since arriving in Columbus and he has a fat contract in his back pocket. He also has a career minor leaguer as his backup. So win or lose, Bobrovsky will be the guy between the pipes. The real question should be – how long will his inevitable injury take him out for, and when will said injury occur? If your league has IR spots, then he is a great buy-low goaltender for you to target.
Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche – This is the one that makes me a little uncomfortable. Because the Avalanche aren’t going to fire Patrick Roy anytime soon, yet it’s no secret that his team has been getting worse possession-wise with each passing game since he started two-plus years ago. He’s been shaky, and Reto Berra has been coming along. Berra ended last season giving up just seven goals in five games and then started this one with 78 saves on 80 shots. But you have to believe that Varlamov’s massive contract will still see him get at least 50 starts no matter how good Berra turns out to be. But will the starts translate into even remotely decent SV% and GAA? If you can get something decent for Varlamov, give it careful consideration
Jonas Hiller, Calgary Flames – The Flames placed a $3.8 million goaltender on waivers Wednesday and Hiller has a lower SV% (0.867) than him. Proof that there won’t be a lot of patience for poor play. Hiller’s contract runs out after this season so there is very little reason for coach Bob Hartley to play him if newly-minted backup Joni Ortio outplays him. This is a very risky own. On one hand, I would love to roll the dice on him as my fourth goalie and see how things play out over the next month. On the other hand, if he was my second or third goaltender I’d be focusing all my efforts on changing that.
If you want updated starting goalie information, check out my website Goalie Post – we offer free email notifications on any last minute changes to starting goalies, which could save your skin a few times if you’re in a daily transaction league.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (2-3-2-5, plus-2, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 2 PPPts) – The NHL’s most underrated player has returned from hip surgery and hasn’t missed a beat. Not even playing with Alex Ovechkin, he’s still piling up the points. An 80-point player this season even with three games already missed.
David Krejci, Boston Bruins (4-3-6-9, plus-2, 2 PIM, 12 SOG, 2 PPPts) – His current pace is 150 points. Likely going to fall short of that. Krejci is a lower-body injury waiting to happen, and your return on him may never be higher than it is right now.
John Tavares, New York Islanders (4-3-5-8, plus-4, 2 PIM, 15 SOG, 3 PPPts) – Tavares is holding a hot stick now, he’ll be holding a hot stick next week, next month and next year. The guy is money. There aren’t many players in the NHL I’d trade him for – it would have to fill a serious need. Still my prediction for this year’s Art Ross.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (4-0-1-1, even, 4 PIM, 7 SOG, 0 PPPts) – Despite regularly seeing roughly two-thirds of the available PP time, Toews is still without a PP point in six games. His ES linemates have been mostly Marian Hossa and Teuvo Teravainen.
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning (4-0-1-1, even, 12 SOG, 0 PIM, 1 PPPts) – Some fantasy owners may be a little nervous about the modest numbers early on since Johnson’s only topped 51 points once. Newer players who come by big numbers unexpectedly are bound to be a source of nervousness when they hit slumps. But Johnson’s quite safe. Right now his 5on5 S% is just 4.65%, so the numbers are bound to improve. At worst, he still surpasses 60 points easily, but at best he could reach 80.
Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames (6-1-0-1, minus-6, 10 PIM, 9 SOG, 1 PPPts) – We all thought Hamilton would flourish in Calgary, but so far that hasn’t happened. He’s getting adequate PP time, so those numbers should shift upward soon. As for even strength, his 5on5 SH% is 4.76% so those numbers should inch upwards as well. Buy low, though I can’t speak for how good or horrible his plus/minus will be.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Trevor Daley, Chicago Blackhawks (19%) (6-0-1-1, plus-1, 2 PIM, 9 SOG, 1 PPPts) – With Duncan Keith out, Daley should be the go-to PP guy now. Last year’s 16 goals and 38 points were no fluke, provided he gets the right ice time. Which he will, now.
Jimmy Hayes, Boston Bruins (6%) (3-2-3-5, plus-2, 0 PIM, 11 SOG, 0 PPPts) – Hayes has points in each of the two games in which he’s seen over 14 minutes of ice time and over 25% of available PP time. Not a long-term solution, as his pace is for 68 points and he’ll probably end up below 50, but he’s developing a reputation for hot streaks and he’s in the midst of one right now.
Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets (5%) (4-2-0-2, minus-3, 2 PIM, 10 SOG, 14 Hits) – With a new coach in town, one who likes the ‘Boone Jenner’ prototype, I suspect you’ll see improved opportunities for the 22-year-old. With a PDO of 878 and 5on5 SH% of 4.88, his luck is bound to change too.
Carl Gunnarsson, St. Louis Blues (2%) (3-1-3-4, plus-2, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 PPPts) – Along with rookie Colton Paryako, Gunnarsson is another beneficiary of the Kevin Shattenkirk injury. As long as Shatty is out, Gunnarsson is worth a depth own.
Ryan Spooner, Boston Bruins (2%) (3-1-2-3, minus-1, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 1 PPPts) – The youngster is a staple on Boston’s power play, seeing 64.6% of the team’s available PP time so far. It’s only translated into one power-play point as of yet, but the fact that he’s being consistently used this way bodes well for the short term.
Michael Stone, Arizona Coyotes (4%) (3-1-2-3, plus-1, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 1 PPPts) – The Coyotes offer several options on the waiver wire, mostly because the team was expected to be horrible and so poolies shied away from its players. Stone is taking advantage of added ice time left by Keith Yandle’s departure at the deadline last year.
Martin Hanzal (8%) (6-0-8-8, plus-3, 8 PIM, 12 SOG, 4 PPPts) – It didn’t take long for fantasy owners to jump all over Anthony Duclair and Max Domi, two potential stars in this league. Poolies buy in quickly on early hot streaks if the player is new and his potential is vast. But Hanzal is doing just as well as the two rookies (he plays with Duclair), yet because he has basically shown us where his ceiling is, fantasy owners aren’t sold. Let me assure you – as long as Hanzal is healthy and Duclair is rolling, Hanzal will do great. If you picked up Duclair, you can pick up Hanzal with equal confidence.
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