Ramblings: Prospect Backups, Series Previews

Ian Gooding

2016-05-15

Prospect backups, series previews, plus other non-NHL happenings…  

There were no NHL games on the telly tonight, so I’ll have to find other ways to inform, entertain, persuade, and so on. Good thing there’s lots of hockey being played, not just at an NHL level but at others.

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Nothing has been announced, but it’s looking like Ben Bishop won’t be available for Game 2 against Pittsburgh on Monday. I heard one radio sportscaster today say that the Lightning are now at a serious disadvantage with the “unknown” Andrei Vasilevskiy starting in net for the near future. Uh, weren’t the Penguins in the same boat with Matthew Murray not so long ago? Plus if this guy had spent time over at Dobber Hockey or Dobber Prospects, he’d know that Vasilevskiy isn’t just some journeyman goalie, like Michael Leighton circa 2010.

Now if Bishop is out for a while and Vasilevskiy backstops the Bolts past the Penguins, does that improve Vasilevskiy’s value for next season? Vasilevskiy and Murray are in very similar situations at the moment. Both are 21-year-old goalies with bright futures that happen to be behind established NHL starters. But if you think about it, should a 21-year-old be starting in the NHL? Perhaps Murray’s performance would have us rethink that general rule.

A while ago on the Forum, someone asked whether Murray or Connor Hellebuyck would be worth more next season. My reply:

Murray's value is really up in the air next season. Now that he seems like the real deal, I think there's a chance that they shop Fleury. I can't see how Dallas wouldn't be interested. Maybe even Calgary.

Both Murray and Hellebuyck are unknowns next season. Best case scenario, both could end up starting a lot of games next season. Worst case scenario, both could be spending most of their time in the AHL. But if I had to predict which goalie will start more games, I'd go with Hellebuyck.

Earlier in the thread, I mentioned that I thought Connor would start between 25 to 35 games, but that is still an early estimate and the offseason still needs to play out. Unless Fleury is injured and assuming both goalies are with the Penguins next season, I can’t see Murray starting that many games. That’s even if he wins the Conn Smythe. A starting goalie, like a starting quarterback, rarely loses his job because of an injury unless there are major performance issues.

So with that, how much stock should we put into a strong playoff performance for next season’s fantasy value? Maybe not as much as we think we should. The playoffs happen to be a segment of games during a team’s whole season, just like any other segment of games that could happen in November or February or whenever. The playoffs just happen to be the most important games of the seaso