Eastern Edge: Ranking the East’s goalies across fantasy categories
In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll rank goalies from the Eastern Conference, based on their fantasy hockey value this year. To make this list, I considered the save percentage (SV%), goals against average (GAA) and wins (W) from goalies that appeared in at least 25 games this year. Below the actual list, I shared some thoughts about a few Eastern Conference goalies and their performances this year.
The Ranking System
As I mentioned in the introduction, these rankings are based on three goaltending categories: SV%, GAA and wins. First, I ranked each goaltender based on his performance in each of those three categories separately. This left each goalie with three different ranks – one for SV%, one for GAA and one for wins. Next, I added up those three ranks to get an overall score that I called the Ranking Score (See Table 1). As you can see, goalies with high fantasy hockey value have lower Ranking Scores. Essentially, a lower Ranking Score means that the goaltender ranked highly in the categories we considered. For example, Tuukka Rask has a Ranking Score of 6, because he ranks 1st in save percentage, 1st in goals against average and 4th in wins (1 + 1 + 4 = 6). Keep in mind, these rankings only consider goalies from the Eastern Conference. Table 1 shows my final standings, with goalies listed in order of greatest to worst performance this year. Table 2 is messier but gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what exactly went into these rankings. It shows a goalie's individual stats (W, SV%, GAA) and where he ranked in each of the three categories (W rank, SV% Rank, GAA Rank) relative to other goalies on this list. Goalies are listed in alphabetical order based on their first name.
Table 1: Fantasy hockey rankings of Eastern Conference goaltenders, where lower Ranking Scores indicate better performances this year (Ranking Score = rank in wins + rank in SV% + rank in GAA). See 'The Ranking System' section above for a more detailed description.
The Bruins have found a recipe for success in net, balancing the workload between Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Rask has started in 41 games this year, while Halak has 29 starts to his name. I feel like Halak doesn't get enough credit in fantasy hockey leagues because we've labelled him as a back-up goalie. While that may be the case, he's still managed to register 18 wins this year – a total which isn't far behind most of the league's starting goaltenders. Although he may see fewer starts than the 'ideal' fantasy hockey goaltender, I think he makes up for it with a consistently impressive SV% and GAA. The same logic applies to Rask, whose decreased workload has resulted in fewer opportunities to register wins. However, keep in mind that the Bruins are a really good team. So even though Rask isn't getting as many starts as other bona fide starters, he always has a good chance of winning the games he does appear in.
Carter Hart did not have a strong start to the season, but he had been playing extremely well before the 2019-2020 campaign was put on hold. He was sidelined for about a month with a lower abdominal strain back in January and since his return on February 10th, he's won nine of 11 starts, registering a .934 SV% and 1.93 GAA in the process. I think one of the most interesting things about Hart's performance this year is the contrast between his numbers at home and his numbers on the road. He's 20-3-2 at the Wells Fargo Center, with a .943 SV% and 1.63 GAA. Away from home, he's 4-10-1 – with an .857 SV% and 3.81 GAA.
If you're looking at overall numbers, Tristan Jarry outperformed Matt Murray this year. However, before you start proclaiming that Jarry has replaced Murray as Pittsbrugh's starter, it's important to take a closer look at the numbers. Jarry was on fire during the 2019 portion of this season, posting a .938 SV% and 1.88 GAA through 18 games. But once 2020 rolled around, he cooled off considerably – registering a .901 SV% and 3.05 GAA through 15 appearances. Murray has actually been better than Jarry since January 1st, with a .905 SV% and 2.73 GAA. Murray's overall numbers this season may not be that impressive, but I definitely wouldn't write him off going forward.
Mackenzie Blackwood emerged as a pleasant surprise during a disappointing season for the Devils. I think he remains an underrated option in most fantasy hockey leagues because we tend to undervalue goalies that play for struggling teams. Don't be afraid to draft Blackwood as your second or third goalie, during the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
Linus Ullmark put together a really solid performance this year and I think Buffalo's defensive core is good enough for him to be a strong option in fantasy hockey. He missed about a month of action in January due to a lower-body injury and I feel like that absence prevented him from racking up a few more wins and maybe getting a bit more recognition around the league.
|Goalie||W||W Rank||SV%||SV% Rank||GAA||GAA Rank|
Table 2: Individual components of the overall Ranking Score displayed in Table 1. A goalie's rank in each of the three individual categories (W rank, SV% rank, GAA rank) is shown beside his output for each category (W – wins, SV% – save percentage, GAA – goals against average). Goalies are listed in alphabetical order based on first name.
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