Ramblings – All Things Goalie: Prospects, Depth Charts, Team Direction, FA Landing Spots, More (Mar 23)

Dobber

2020-03-23

Buckle up. If you're jonesing for some fantasy hockey action already, you're in for several months of suffering I'm afraid. We're just getting started. My thoughts are with the huge chunk of the population who are out of work right now and trying to make ends meet, as well as another large portion of the population who are on the front lines helping: the nurses, police, fire department, truck drivers, grocery clerks, etc. As for me, I do still work and DobberHockey and all of Dobber Sports is still running…but I stretch the summer revenue out until May 1 – that's when I'll start to feel it. But I'm fortunate to have a wife working from home during this crisis and that second income will carry me through (unless next season gets canceled and in that case: uh oh). But everyone is getting hit by this, so relatively speaking I could do a lot worse. I feel for those of you who aren't so lucky. I'm trying to continue my online shopping habits, and I'm trying to order restaurant delivery twice per week to support the local economy.

I spent the last week going through every team's goaltending pipeline, reviewing scouting reports and poring over the stats. I released the Top 100 Keeper League Goalies Saturday and the Top 65 Fantasy Prospect Goalies Sunday. Needless to say, I have a good handle on the situation right now so I went to Twitter for some goaltending Q's. To be clear: "a good handle" is a very loosey-goosey term, as nobody has a good handle on goalies, right?

Here we go…

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Not elite and perhaps not a workhorse, but he is a very good goalie and a potential starter. I think next year he'll be the 1A to Jonathan Quick's 1B (assuming the Kings can't move Quick). If Cal Petersen flourishes without pressure (thanks to having Quick around to shoulder that), then he'll progress to starter in 2021-22. I think he can be a 55- to 60-game guy, but I don't think he can be a 70-game guy. Next year's step will be an important indicator.

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Holtby: I think Detroit and Ottawa will be hard in the mix for Braden Holtby and Jacob Markstrom. Edmonton is also a strong possibility, but the salary cap plays a huge role here. The projection was for the cap to be around $84M, but with the season on pause and revenue lost – could the cap stay the same or even go downward? If the latter, you can stroke the Oilers off the list.

I think Matt Murray will sign a cheaper contract, unless he leads them to another Cup. But if the Pens are gone in the first two rounds (assuming playoffs happen!), I think they get him for $5M at a low term "show me" contract where he needs to prove he can stay healthy. I think Tristan Jarry signs for under $4M, also a short-term "show me" deal. The team then gives this situation another year to play out and make a decision on who will be their future goalie – and trade the other one. With Justin Schultz off the books and possibly buying out Nick Bjugstad, the team will have the cap room to do this.

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The prime example why I like going by Tiers instead of rating when it comes to my goalie rankings. The Tiers give you a sense of security and risk management. Rittich is still very risky. But he does have some upside to be a 60-game quality starter on a very good team that should get lots of wins. He's also in his prime. His great win total of 2018-19 came alongside mediocre stats (0.911 SV%) – and this year he also has 24 wins, which helps a lot of leagues, but his other numbers are terrible. A lot of question marks with him, and he's being out-performed by Cam Talbot. Yet Talbot is a free agent in the summer. David Rittich is a Tier 3 until he either seizes the top job outright, or the Flames fail to sign a proven goaltender and – say – Jon Gillies comes up to be the backup next year.

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I'm okay with dropping either Filip Gustavsson or Sam Montembault, depending on who you pick to replace them. Monty looks like he'll be a solid backup, so there's little upside there. Gustavsson is struggling as a North American pro, but his upside is huge so I feel like the wait time is long before we truly see. But if that type of prospect goalie is the only type you can pick up then you may as well keep them. If you can do better, then go ahead.

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I think he has over-achieved and earned a temporary status as the team's No.1. It's still very much up for grabs and there are a couple of decent goalies in the pipeline. I just have my doubts that Ullmark has 55-game workhorse in him. Let's also keep in mind that Carter Hutton is an easy buyout candidate in the offseason and in that case the Sabres would be very much in the mix for Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom and even their old buddy Robin Lehner.

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Gibson will return to form. And then the team in front of him will crumble by December and his numbers will get hammered. He'll get it right when the team around him gets better, which is still two or three years away if you ask me. For two or three seasons now, Gibson has been so awesome in October and November that my readers get upset with me that his ranking doesn't have him in the Top 5. Those readers start shutting up by January, and fade to oblivion by February. I expect that to happen again next year!

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This absolutely correct, and precisely the reason why you go by the tiering system at the draft. You draft your first goalie at the very latest possible pick where you feel comfortable that Tier 1 goalies are still around. Don't set a specific round. When a goalie run starts, they all go quickly. So when it's your pick and you don't think that a Tier 1 goalie makes it to your next pick – take one. And one Tier 1 goalie is as good as another.

I talked about the Penguins' situation earlier. But I believe Elvis Merzlikins becomes a workhorse star goalie and takes over next season, starting 60 games. I think, bold prediction here, that his career will mimic Pekka Rinne's.

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Tyler Wall is progressing great. His stock is moving upward. He has the option of becoming an unrestricted free agent and, given Shesterkin, I wonder if he signs elsewhere. If I'm his agent, I direct him to Chicago, Detroit, Ottawa or San Jose. If that happens, he immediately gets bumped from Tier 6 to Tier 5, with a ranking that jumps from 125th up into the Top 80. He is 51st on my prospects list and such a signing would get him into the Top 30 easily.

Olof Lindbom was drafted 39th overall last year. He has decent size at 6-2, and the basic tools are there. That's all I have in terms of the positive, he's still five or six years away and probably two years away from knowing what we have. The Rangers rolled the dice on him for his high upside, but this year he hasn't played a lot and when he played the results have been underwhelming.

Adam Huska has been very weak as a pro after finishing his college career with a sputter. I am not interested in him at all in fantasy at this point.

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On one hand, Devan Dubnyk is in a contract year next season. But he'll be 34 next year and I don't like where he's trending – 0.923, 0.918, 0.913 and 0.890 the last four seasons in order – and this season his third quarter was his worst quarter and in his one game in the fourth quarter he allowed four goals on 26 shots. If I were a betting man, I'd bet on him being done – but call it 65/35 confidence.

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I really like the way Arizona's Prosvetov transitioned to pro hockey. He had to shoulder a lot of the AHL load thanks to Adin Hill having to fill in for injuries, and he did well with it. He jumped from 79 to 44 on my prospect list. Korenar I had ranked 51 in the fall after a strong AHL debut last season. But this season his numbers tumbled, and his ranking tumbled to 88 as a result. Disappointing because had he built on 2018-19 then he would have made a splash on Sharks management because Martin Jones has been so terrible. There was an opportunity for a San Jose prospect to make waves, but alas – no exciting prospect to be found.

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Elite potential. Elite. Right away. I'll be moving him into the Tier 1 stratosphere the minute the Rangers are down to two goalies. And I have some confidence that Shesterkin will be a Top 3 fantasy goaltender within three years. Within.

So yeah, he sucks.

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I think given the strides that Daniel Darth Vladar made this season, the Bruins would be comfortable letting Halak and his potential big contract walk and slide Vladar in as a backup. But Vladar still has to earn it – he doesn't have to clear waivers until 2021-22, so if he shows early on that he can't handle the backup role the Bruins could easily bring a short-term backup in. But ideal for them is Vladar succeeding in a limited role next year, and then they would be able to let Rask walk away in 2021.

Swayman has had three good years in college, with his junior season (this one) the best of them all (0.939 SV% in 34 games for Univ. of Maine). The Bruins signed him last week so he's turning pro. Vladar successfully winning the backup job next year would allow Swayman to continue to develop for two years in Providence as their starter – and Boston's goaltending conveyor belt can be a thing.

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For those two backups, I would keep them. Francouz has been better than Grubauer and frankly I think he steals that job when Grubauer gets hurt next year (or simply doesn't play as well…again). I think Buffalo buys out Hutton. It's an easy, cheap buyout. I'd be more worried about the Sabres signing Robin Lehner back after they do that move.

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Team impact is the key. Take a look at the goalie situation and the contracts that they wield, as well as their ages. Look at the other options in the system. Some teams really don't have a choice. It was how I was able to call goaltenders such as Jimmy Howard, Corey Crawford and Elvis Merzlikins (as examples). But meanwhile, in terrible situations it can take down very good goaltenders – Cory Schneider and Jonathan Bernier are great examples of this. They just get buried. Had they been made starters in their second NHL season or at a reasonable age, they could have flourished. Schneider did eventually do well (briefly), but imagine if he started that when he was 25? I was just about to give up on Juuse Saros because of this, when he finally broke through this year.

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Yes. I'm 70/30 confident that he'll bounce back to Vezina-caliber status next season. Not 100%. And I certainly don't rank him the third best goalie to own, as I did last summer. Right now I'd pencil him in around 12 or 13 (I actually have him 12th in the latest rankings).

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https://twitter.com/ddeadtomato/status/1241753956252094464

I think they would be wise to sign him, and I put it at 50-50. But as noted earlier I think Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo chase him. Maybe Chicago if they can sort out their massive cap issues (I doubt it). I also wonder if Minnesota does something in the goalie department, or if loyalty to Dubnyk (one year left on his deal) will prevail? Edmonton could take a shot as well. But Canucks are the leading contender.

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They are good for at least two years. Re-evaluate annually.

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I think it's a great fit, but they owe Fleury two more years at $7M per. So I think Lehner moves on. No shortage of buyers this time.

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Real nice NHL future in my opinion but no way it happens next season. Three years away. A backup in two if he plays very well. I think Nashville would like to keep him, and apprentice him the way they did with Saros. What he needs to work on is his workload. He needs to eke up his games played until he can play 55 in the AHL (31 this year, 31 ECHL/AHL the year before, 34 the season before that).

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Yes, he's the only goalie in a Keep 3 I would keep.

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Great WHL numbers, but as a seventh-round pick he won't be given the red carpet. He'll need to earn it every step of the way. Still five years off.

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See you next Monday. Be safe, and take this pandemic seriously. The sooner this is contained, the sooner we can have hockey. As soon as you read "Zero New Cases Today" as a headline about your province or state, know that at that moment the road to getting hockey back begins.

UPCOMING GAMES

Mar 29 - 12:03 PHI vs PIT
Mar 29 - 15:03 CHI vs L.A
Mar 29 - 15:03 N.J vs CAR
Mar 29 - 15:03 WPG vs VGK
Mar 29 - 19:03 STL vs MIN
Mar 29 - 20:03 EDM vs ANA
Mar 29 - 21:03 COL vs NSH
Mar 29 - 22:03 S.J vs ARI

STARTING GOALIES

  • No data at this moment.

HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency ARI Players
23.4% CHRISTIAN DVORAK TAYLOR HALL CLAYTON KELLER
22.6% PHIL KESSEL NICK SCHMALTZ CARL SODERBERG
17.4% CHRISTIAN FISCHER MICHAEL GRABNER BRAD RICHARDSON

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