Eastern Edge: Vanecek Can Be Solid in New Jersey; Husso’s Start; Montreal’s Goaltending Value

Brennan Des


In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll focus on netminders in New Jersey, but I'll also share a few quick thoughts on two other goaltending situations in the conference.

New Jersey's Netminders

Advanced stats suggest that the Devils have been one of the league's best teams so far this season. Their strong offensive numbers shouldn't come as a huge surprise given the team's scoring talent, but their defense has been surprisingly strong. Through 12 games, New Jersey has allowed the fewest high danger opportunities of any team in the league. Their expected goals against also ranks best in the league (stats via NaturalStatTrick). Although the team has made life easy for both of its goaltenders, one has managed to outperform the other.

So far this season, both Vitek Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood have appeared in seven games. While Blackwood holds a 2.79 GAA and .880 save percentage, Vanecek boasts a more impressive 2.21 GAA and .908 save percentage. Vanecek's numbers are skewed by a rough first game of the season in which he conceded five goals on 22 shots against Detroit. He's settled in nicely since then, going 5-0, with a 1.64 GAA and .933 save percentage. Obviously, removing one bad start out of such a small sample is sure to improve any goaltender's overall numbers, but I thought it was worth mentioning in this case since Vanecek's worst game is temporally separated from his other games.  

Although Blackwood and Vanecek have shared the net up until this point, Vanecek will step into a starting role for the next little while as Blackwood is expected to miss three to six weeks with an MCL sprain. Still available in 39% of Yahoo Leagues, Vanecek could make a great addition to your fantasy roster in the short term. I'm hesitant to endorse him for the whole season because I think of him as an average goaltender on a good* team, which makes him replaceable. When evaluating a goaltender's fantasy value, we must consider both his individual talent as well as the quality of the team in front of him. In Vanecek's case, he hasn't really flashed spectacular individual ability. Heading into this season, he possessed a rather pedestrian 2.68 GAA and .908 save percentage through 79 games