Last week here we covered some of the best early-season performers on a cost-per-point basis, and next week we’ll dive into some disappointments, but this week I decided (with the help of some readers as well) that it was time for some cap league goalie coverage. Let’s begin the goalie rant!
Marc-Andre Fleury – Vegas Golden Knights
Cap Hit: $7,000,000
The top goalie in the league thus far this season has made a good show of earning his new deal. Fleury has been one of the most consistent goalies for the last number of seasons, and is the backbone of one of the best teams in the league this year. As great as he has been though, the soon-to-be 35-year-old has played in over 550 regular season games in the last decade, in addition to multiple deep playoff runs. The only times he regularly misses games is due to injuries, which have begun to crop up more recently for the veteran netminder. If you have championship aspirations this year, it may be best to run with Fleury, however now may be the height of Fleury’s value on which to sell.
Carter Hutton – Buffalo Sabres
Cap Hit: $2,750,000
Other than desperate GMs, not many would have been rostering Hutton on opening night of the season, however he has certainly proved to us all that he is worth owning – in the short term anyways. Buffalo started hot last year before falling off around American Thanksgiving, and with Hutton still adjusting to the life of an NHL starter (after spending most of his career as a backup), we could be in line for a similar decline as the year goes on. Additionally, Buffalo has two your goalies in the system that will be looking to take over the starting role in the coming years. The biggest threat to Hutton is current backup Linus Ullmark, and by the end of the season I expect the two to be splitting starts.
David Rittich – Calgary Flames
Cap Hit: $2,750,000
One of the better owns in cap leagues. It was expected that backup Cam Talbot would be closer to a timeshare with Rittich, however the youngster appears to be getting the lion’s share of the starts. Having started in eight of the team’s first 11 games, unless Rittich’s game hits a big bump in the road, he should continue to see about two out of every three starts. On a team of Calgary’s skill, that is money in the bank.
Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
Cap Hit: $10,500,000
The highest paid goaltender in the league is currently putting up stats that look a little above league average. That isn’t going to cut it for the cost that GMs have invested in the Habs’ franchise player. Last season, Price started even slower, and picked things up to his usual all-star level of play. Expect the same this time around as the team gels. If you can manage the salary cap around his massive contract, Price could be a soft buy in cap leagues right now.
Darcy Kuemper – Arizona Coyotes
Cap Hit: $1,850,000 with one year remaining, plus a two-year extension at an AAV of $4.5 million
Kuemper’s situation is a very interesting one, as he seems to have bested the “money talks” rule with goalies, and earned himself both a contract extension to match Raanta (by cap percentage), as well as an equal share of the net in Arizona. Both goalies have been solid this season, and it is due to a great job by the defence suppressing shots. Moving forward with this duo, Kuemper seems like the one to own in fantasy based on production, the new extension, and his current bargain contract.
Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
Cap Hit: $6,100,000
Many owners are currently worried by Holtby’s lackluster start to his contract year, especially with having to watch Russian blue-chip prospect Ilya Samsonov come in as the backup and look like a poised NHL veteran. With Samsonov and recently re-signed Phoenix Copley in the system, the writing is on the wall that Holtby will not be back with the Capitals next season. As a result, the team will want to see what they have in Samsonov, possibly leading to a 50/30 split in starts (favouring the incumbent Holtby).
Holtby is a streaky goalie, and had two quarters last season with a GAA over 3.00, and a save percentage below .905%. When you own him, you have to know those streaks are coming, but with the championship caliber team in front of him, he can also go on runs that win you your fantasy season. Now is the time to buy, not sell with Holtby.
As always, the backups are a mixed bag. By picking the right backup goalies (value drafting the smaller contracts) you could win leagues that focus more on ratios for goalies than volume. It is a strategy I have used in the past, and probably will continue to use in the future. The majority of them will not be major threats to their starters, but they can be extremely valuable chips when used correctly due to their production vs cap hit. Players such as Tristan Jarry, Mackenzie Blackwood, and Jack Campbell are actually all making less than the league minimum this year. If you have an excellent goalie as your number one, you could get away with running one of these backups as your second goalie in order to spend the savings on a skater upgrade who can help you in some more predictable counting stats. This is obviously league dependant, but it’s a strategy worth thinking about anyways.
If you have questions, comments, or article requests, you can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.
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