The Journey: Prospect Goalies as Trade Bait (Levi, McKay, Blomqvist, Portillo, and others)

Benjamin Gehrels


Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantasy predictions and analysis along the way.

The 2022-23 season is just around the corner, and in the flurry of fantasy drafts happening recently the question of how to accurately assess, predict, and draft goaltenders continues to frustrate poolies everywhere. Last year, Nate from the Apples and Ginos site/podcast coalesced our collective rage into an insightful thesis statement known as Zero-G, a strategy that involves fading goalies until the later rounds.

Definitely give that article a read if you haven't already. Many of us have been fading goalies for years but now we have a shiny name for it, and Nate outlines a number of excellent contextual insights, such as being more willing to replace duds with the latest Flavour of the Week because we didn't invest much in them to begin with. As he says, that can allow you to capture the latest Jack Campbell, Anton Forsberg, or Ville Husso who provide immense value at minimal cost.

Nate recently posted about Zero-G on Yahoo, which is basically taking it "mainstream" in the fantasy hockey world, so I will be curious to see moving forward what the effects will be on drafts as an increasingly large number of managers learn about and apply it. Going against the grain is a great way to create separation from the competition but the landscape is always shifting. It will be interesting to see if and when a competitive advantage opens up when a majority of managers in a league draft with Zero-G in mind.

A few months ago, he posted an amendment of sorts to Zero-G: "The 2021 data was so bad that I thought fading goalies was the only strategy that could outperform your league mates; the 2021-22 data has made me think that at the very least goalie volume is somewhat predictable and therefore mitigating risk by targeting goalies at the back end of the workhorse tier is a viable alternative."