There’s no more important position in fantasy hockey than the goalie position.
After all, you dress so many skaters that if a left winger has a bad week, the impact isn’t felt that much. If your netminder has an off week, you’re screwed and more than likely losing your matchup in head-to-head leagues, or have fallen down the standings in roto leagues.
That’s why it’s so frustrating when you go into the season thinking you are set in nets, just to see it go up in smoke a month into the season. With scoring up, you expect to see some netminders’ numbers rise as well.
While it’s still early in the season and it’s too early to panic, it’s not too early to be concerned.
Below are 10 netminders who are disappointing their fantasy owners.
10. Mike Smith
Many fantasy general managers weren’t expecting much out of Smith, but there’s no way they projected it to be this bad. Smith has started 10 games, and has let in at least three goals in seven of them. This has led to a 5-4-1 record with a 3.71 GAA and 0.871 SV %. The 36-year-old Smith is a free agent next summer, so if his performance doesn’t start to improve soon, he could be usurped by David Rittich, who has looked excellent so far with a 4-1 record and a 2.24 GAA and 0.927 SV %.
9. Jake Allen
Is it time to give up on Jake Allen? Fantasy owners could be forgiven for thinking that way. The 28-year-old has never been anything more than an average goaltender and can’t hold onto the number one spot. This year has been especially bad for Blues netminder, with a 4-3-3 record, 3.99 GAA and .879 SV %. My biggest question is, if you are the Blues general manager, how much longer can you rely on Allen as being your number one guy?
8. Jonathan Quick
The only fantasy owners happy with Quick’s season is anyone going into tank mode for Jack Hughes. Quick is now on his second injury of the season and is expected out until December. He is winless in four starts, has a 4.55 GAA and a 0.845 SV %. Plus, the Kings look awful, so even when Quick does come back, you can’t hope for much improvement.
7. Philipp Grubauer
Plenty of fantasy general managers were high on Grubauer this offseason. The 26-year-old had an impressive season with Washington last year, and poolies were ready to anoint the newest Avalanche goalie as the new number one. That hasn’t even come close to happening, with Grubauer owning a 3.56 GAA and a 0.893 SV % (although he does have a 3-1-1 record). Meanwhile, Semyon Varlamov has a 2.12 GAA and a .936 SV % (although he has a 4-3-2 record).
6. Cam Talbot
Talbot was a popular later pick in many drafts, as many were hoping that Edmonton and Talbot could bounce back from an awful season. That hasn’t been the case, and now Talbot has to contend with Mikko Koskinen, the backup signed this summer from the KHL. Koskinen has started back-to-back games and has three wins in three starts. Talbot is the number one goalie, but with a 5-4-1 record, a 2.81 GAA and a .904 SV %, Talbot could lose some starts in the upcoming weeks.
5. Braden Holtby
A lot of fantasy general managers may have forgotten Holtby’s awful season last year thanks to his excellent postseason run. He lost the number one spot and wasn’t even the Caps’ starting goaltender when the playoffs began. It looks like this year is just a continuation of last year’s regular season, but somehow, it’s even worse with a 4-3-2 record, 3.62 GAA and 0.888 SV %. Pheonix Copley hasn’t proven that he can handle more workload, so Holtby isn’t in too much trouble . . . yet.
4. Matt Murray
This time last year, I owned Murray in two different keeper leagues. I now own him in none. I don’t trust him to stay healthy, and despite his postseason success, I don’t trust him to put up anything close to decent numbers in the regular season. His numbers have been getting worse every year. This year, he has a 4-3-1 record with a 3.68 GAA and a .890 SV %. I recommend staying as far away from Murray as you can until he can consistently stay healthy and consistently put up solid numbers.
3. Tuukka Rask
This is an annual rite of passage for Rask owners. Rask starts the season slowly, and there’s plenty of talk about the backups stealing starts (by the way, Jaroslav Halak has started five of the last seven games for the Bruins). Then Rask goes on a crazy run and everyone forgets the slow start. If you were to look at the monthly split stats for Rask (found here at Hockey Reference), you will see his worst month for winning percentage, save percentage and goals against average is October. Expect a bounce back to start any game now.
2. Sergei Bobrovsky
There have been lots of distractions in Columbus this year, with rumours of both Bobrovsky and elite forward Artemi Panarin possibly being dealt if they don’t re-sign. While Panarin has continued to be excellent, Bobrovsky has struggled. He’s 3-6-0 with a 3.33 GAA and a 0.895 SV %. He has yet to put up any consistent numbers, letting in at least three goals in six different games, including an eight-spot against Tampa on Oct. 13.
1. Connor Hellebuyck
Hellebuyck was the number one goalie chosen in many drafts this fall, and so far, he’s given absolutely zilch to fantasy owners who wasted a high pick on the Jets netminder. Hellebuyck is 5-5-1 with a 3.01 GAA and a .907 SV %. This goes back to something I strongly believe in: Don’t waste a high pick on a goalie. Rarely does a tender have back-to-back great fantasy seasons. Five of the top seven goalies drafted in Yahoo pools this year are struggling out of the gate and are on this list (Hellebuyck, Holtby and Bobrovsky, Rask and Quick).