Eastern Conference Goalie Tandems (Jan 2017)

by Eric Daoust on January 24, 2017

More than any other position, goalies are extremely difficult to predict and frustrating to own through the various ups and downs. Unlike skaters who can get demoted to a lower line to work out their kinks, goaltenders simply go to the bench and do not play while you do not collect any stats.

Throughout the NHL there are several goaltending situations where there is no clear number-one goalie as the team goes with the hot hand. If you own both goalies then at least you get a start every time that team plays. Otherwise you will go through bouts where one of your goaltenders is giving you nothing.

However, there are benefits in investing in these goalies with unclear roles. Generally speaking, the uncertainty makes them available in later rounds of fall drafts. If the guy you select can take the ball and run with it you have an incredible value pick on your hands. In any event, you will have plenty of opportunities to use your goalie and get good production out of him.

Then there is Las Vegas. Obviously, they will select at least a pair of goaltenders during the expansion draft. Depending on who they select there could be an opportunity for a prospect to earn a promotion to the NHL, otherwise the vacancy could become an appealing landing spot for this summer’s free agents.

Today we will examine seven teams in the Eastern Conference with either an unsettled number-one situation or with the potential to be impacted significantly by the expansion draft. This is by no means an exhaustive list as there are plenty of candidates out there such as Philipp Grubauer who could end up in Vegas.

Detroit Red Wings

Name

League

GP

W

GAA

SV%

Petr Mrazek

NHL

27

10

3.13

0.895

Jimmy Howard

NHL

17

5

1.96

0.934

Jared Coreau

NHL

10

5

2.79

0.904

 

 

The Red Wings’ situation is a mess at the moment. Only third-stringer Coreau, playing some good hockey of late, has allowed them to avoid disaster. Mrazek is the answer long-term but has been the team’s third-best goalie after a breakout campaign last year. Howard had bounced back nicely prior to suffering an injury that continues to keep him out of action.

How this situation plays out the rest of the way remains to be seen as there are a lot of variables at play. Howard will be back at some point but there is no guarantee he will continue his strong play. The team had wanted to move him but found no takers. Perhaps now a team will be more interest in his services. Assuming they eventually move him, it would make total sense for the Wings to move forward with the duo of Mrazek and Coreau next year. Given their investment in Mrazek they have to bank on this being a minor bump in the road before he gets back to the level of play we expect from him.

New York Islanders

Name

League

GP

W

GAA

SV%

Thomas Greiss

NHL

23

12

2.32

0.928

J-F Berube

NHL

6

1

2.82

0.916

Jaroslav Halak

NHL

21

6

3.23

0.904

 

 

In addition to the recent coaching change, the Islanders also made a change in goal as they banished Halak, their starter the past couple years, to the minors. This leaves Greiss as the team’s starter for now with Berube as backup. With the team not expected to make the playoffs this tandem should remain in place the rest of the way with Halak being a strong candidate for buyout this summer.

Beyond this season the possibilities are endless as both Greiss and Berube are free agents. The team might bring both back or look elsewhere as there will be goalies available via trade and free agency. It ultimately depends on what they can accomplish down the stretch. After all, they are currently five points away from a playoff spot so there is still a possibility for a miracle to happen.

New York Rangers

Name

League

GP

W

GAA

SV%

Henrik Lundqvist

NHL

35

21

2.75

0.906

Antti Raanta

NHL

17

10

2.24

0.923

Magnus Hellberg

AHL

25

10

2.91

0.905

 

 

Although Lundqvist has gone through some tough stretches at times in his career, this is the worst he has played over this long a stretch. In fact, while he has compiled a 6-4 record since returning from the flu his GAA and save percentage have both worsened during this span. This has given an opportunity for Raanta to emerge as more than just a backup as he has been excellent when called upon. This could make him an appealing target for Las Vegas.

If Raanta goes, the best in-house option is Hellberg. He might be passable as a backup but at this point in Lundqvist’s career it would be wise to bring in a better alternative. Quality backups are cheap anyway. Given Lundqvist’s age of 34 and his struggles this year the Rangers could be an attractive destination for goalies this summer.

Ottawa Senators

Name

League

GP

W

GAA

SV%

Craig Anderson

NHL

19

12

2.46

0.924

Mike Condon

NHL

25

13

2.52

0.914

Matt O'Connor

AHL

21

10

2.77

0.903

 

 

Condon has done an admirable job filling in for an absent Anderson while keeping the Senators in a playoff spot. This is the second year in a row he has been forced into a starter’s role and has fared much better this time. Like Raanta, he has done enough to warrant consideration for Las Vegas as a backup. If Condon goes look for previous backup Andrew Hammond to reclaim his job or for prospect Matt O’Connor to steal the gig and make the jump to the NHL.

As for Anderson, he has been outstanding when available. It appears he will return to the Sens soon and should log number-one minutes after an easing-in period to get him back up to speed. Regardless of who is the backup next year Anderson remains the unquestioned top goalie for this franchise.

Philadelphia Flyers

Name

League

GP

W

GAA

SV%

Steve Mason

NHL

39

15

2.92

0.899

Michal Neuvirth

NHL

14

6

3.38

0.877

Anthony Stolarz

NHL

4

2

1.79

0.938

 

 

After a few years of quality play from Mason, the hockey gods decided the Flyers’ crease had to return to its old form. To date both Mason and Neuvirth have been awful and have not delivered a ton of wins either. With a playoff spot on the line you cannot rule out the Flyers making a shake-up deal with another team struggling in the crease. This is made more likely by the fact that both goalies are unrestricted free agents after the season which makes them easier to move.

Next year look for Stolarz to be promoted in the backup role. Depending on how things shake out the Flyers could bring back Mason or look to free agency for a change. A Mason return would make him a nice bounce-back candidate for next year while Stolarz should definitely be stashed away in keeper leagues.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Name

League

GP

W

GAA

SV%

Matt Murray

NHL

24

17

2.32

0.923

Marc-Andre Fleury

NHL

27

13

3.23

0.904

Tristan Jarry

AHL

25

17

2.24

0.918

 

 

The inclusion of the Penguins is more about Fleury being a popular candidate to end up in Las Vegas than any problems in the team’s crease. Whatever happens with Fleury seems more likely to take place after the playoffs as the Penguins would be wise to keep two goalies of this quality for a deep postseason run. Down the stretch look for Murray to get the bulk of the starts as he has all but solidified himself as the team’s top goalie after returning from a hand injury in late October.

While Jarry looks promising down in the AHL, it probably makes more sense to go the veteran backup route for next year while the youngster continues to develop. Whoever ends up in the role makes an appealing handcuff option as it should be noted Murray has missed eight games to injury this year and two last spring.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Name

League

GP

W

GAA

SV%

Ben Bishop

NHL

26

11

2.78

0.905

Andrei Vasilevskiy

NHL

26

10

2.86

0.907

Kristers Gudlevskis

AHL

20

6

2.74

0.886

 

After a few years of success both in the regular season and postseason, the Lightning have struggled mightily especially in goal. The popular scenario is for Bishop to eventually move on while Vasilevskiy takes over. However, Bishop has not played like a quality goalie and has a lot of question marks moving forward in the final year of his contract.

Assuming Bishop does in fact leave, the Lightning will be in need of a quality backup. Gudlevskis has mostly disappointed in the minors and does not appear to be ready for full-time NHL duty so the team will have to look outside the organization for help. It should be noted Vasilevskiy’s career save percentage is just .911 so the secondary guy might end up getting a lot of action while the youngster learns on the job.

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