Having a need for goaltending help off the free-agent pile this late in a fantasy season is not a fun experience. The January-February rush on emerging goalies has passed, meaning this season that you missed out on the Jeremy Swayman, Jake Oettinger and Ville Husso trains. In any kind of deep league, all the goaltenders with decent ratios and 1,000 minutes will be spoken for. Quite frankly, things start to look a little desperate.
It’s not as if the trade deadline tends to see a better swing in the goaltender outlook. Any team that truly wanted a No. 1 goalie in the market wouldn’t wait until an arbitrary date to make something happen – they’d act immediately.
But, as is always the case, some fantasy managers are being forced to look for help in the crease. Jack Campbell is out for at least two weeks, while Frederik Andersen and Robin Lehner are injured for an undetermined period of time.
So what are the options?
Antti Raanta, G, Carolina Hurricanes: Andersen might not be out too long, so this could be a shorter-term option, but Raanta is proving that it isn’t about who is in the Carolina Hurricanes net, it’s just about being there. The Hurricanes are one of the team’s that promote strong goaltending statistics, with last season’s results as the proof (James Reimer, Alex Nedeljkovic and Petr Mrazek all had great metrics). Raanta has faced the fourth-fewest shots per 60 minutes of any goaltender with at least 500 minutes. Beating the Pittsburgh Penguins and shutting out the Colorado Avalanche during his current three-game win streak is certainly convincing, too.
Nico Daws, G, New Jersey Devils: Brian Elliott, Swayman and then Daws; that’s the list of the goaltenders facing the fewest high-danger shots per 60 minutes so far this season. The results won’t be as strong as Raanta, but with Jonathan Bernier and Mackenzie Blackwood both indefinitely on the injured reserve, Daws can have moderate value for a lot longer than Raanta.
Calvin Petersen, G, Los Angeles Kings: No one is facing fewer shots per 60 minutes in the NHL than Peterson. With Jonathan Quick checking in at 10th on the same list, this is clearly a team statistic. The results have been somewhat mercurial from Petersen to date, but the results have been better of late.
He sits ninth in total fantasy points among goaltenders for the past three weeks, outpacing netminders such as Sergei Bobrovsky, Darcy Kuemper and Andrei Vasilevskiy in that span.
Petr Mrazek, G, Toronto Maple Leafs: There is some risk here, as the Leafs’ goal prevention has fallen off a steep cliff. Sure, some of that was Campbell’s now-being-called-a-lingering injury that will keep Mrazek in the crease for the bulk of the next two weeks. But it’s not exactly like Mrazek has been performing in Campbell’s stead. I don’t know what exactly to make of the results either, as Mrazek has picked up fantasy points against the Capitals, Wild, Blue Jackets and Red Wings since Feb. 21, but posted negative fantasy points against the Sabers, Coyotes and Canadiens. Figure that one out.
Zach Sawchenko, G, San Jose Sharks: Use of Sawchenko should be done on a matchup-by-matchup basis, but there is merit to a spot start if the Sharks are in a good situation, which would be in a weaker matchup when they are on the road. For whatever reason, the Sharks have prevented goals much better away from home, allowing 2.89 goals compared to 3.41 while at home. Right now, Sawchenko has also faced the most high-danger shots per 60 minutes in the league, but it’s a small sample. Adin Hill has faced the seventh-fewest in more than 1,000 minutes, so there is some hope for Sawchenko to face an easier road ahead.
Fantasy Forecaster: March 14 to March 20
The Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals get the extra-game boost next week by playing four times. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Seattle Kraken, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks are limited to two games.
Arizona Coyotes: How a team scoring 2.54 goals per game can suddenly rip off 7.33 goals per game during their past three contests is beyond comprehension. But the Coyotes kicked things off in March by beating the Avalanche, then proceeded to put on an offensive clinic for the past three games. Nick Schmaltz has 12 points in three games, with Clayton Keller posting another eight. Jakob Chychrun scored more goals in the past two games than he had in the 44 games leading up to that point. It’s a blip, to be sure. But sometimes these blips will fade rather than instantly disappear. With a four-game schedule on tap, you may as well have Schmaltz, Keller and Chychrun in lineups. Deeper leagues can even fish down for Travis Boyd, who completes the top line. From a bigger picture perspective, there is also good news here. As Schmaltz was actually earning enough fantasy value before this three-game tear to justify being on fantasy rosters. In the three weeks before March 5, I posted 2.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG) — so you should have no fear about leaning into him.
Clayton Keller’s goal puts Coyotes ahead 9-2
New York Islanders: With Mathew Barzal’s status very much still up in the air, Anders Lee and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are the the places to look for next week’s four-game sched. Both are getting power-play minutes, both are topping 2.0 FPPG over the past eight games and both are available in at least one-third of ESPN leagues. Heck, if that’s our cutoff, both Noah Dobson and Ryan Pulock are available in one-third of leagues and should already be roster locks on most weeks. It’s definitely worth sorting your free-agent list by Islanders to see who is available.
Vancouver Canucks: Getting the Devils, Red Wings and Sabers among their four opponents next week should help with the Canucks current offensive march. Slip Tanner Pearson into your lineup if he’s available. Playing on the top line with JT Miller and Brock Boeser, he is also getting some secondary power-play time. Pearson has managed to average 2.0 FPPG over the course of the past six games, and has three points in three games since the new top line was assembled.
Jakub Vrana, W, Detroit Red Wings: If this is what Vrana can do without a top-six role and while not a part of the top power-play unit, I’m excited for when the Red Wings move him up the depth chart. Playing with Joe Veleno and Sam Gagner at even strength and on the power play with Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen, Vrana has posted three goals in his first two games of the season.
Jonathan Marchessault, W, Vegas Golden Knights: Looking to spark Jack Eichel to the next level, the Golden Knights have separated Marchessault from his longtime linemates and skated him with Eichel and Max Pacioretty. Nothing happened in their first outing together, but this bears watching. Eichel has averaged just 2.1 FPPG since his debut with the Knights, but we know there is another level coming.
Tyler Johnson, C, Chicago Blackhawks: Probably not someone worth picking up right away, but you should take note of Johnson’s usage since his return from a long injury absence. He’s been consistently used as a member of the top power-play unit, despite no points in his five games back from him. With Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat sharing the ice with him, that production could change on a dime.
Arthur Kaliyev, W, Los Angeles Kings: The metrics aren’t there yet and he’s probably a fantasy play for a year or two from now, but Kaliyev is getting some top-six looks while Viktor Arvidsson is sidelined. It’s a chance to get familiar with him for a game or two in your lineup while he’s skating with Anze Kopitar.