Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Fantasy hockey goals: Connor Hellebuyck returned to form at the perfect time

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Connor Hellebuyck, Jets (Last 3 starts: 2-1-0, .951 Sv%, 1.65 GAA)

After a series of 11 (!) Matches in which Hellebuyck allowed at least three goals, the former Vezina winner has recently returned to form with five goals allowed in his last three matches, including a 42-result victory against Vegas. His raw numbers are still not very good, but he still wins matches. Despite a 3.15 GAA in March, which is 12th out of 15 goalkeepers with at least 10 appearances, Hellebuyck still managed to win seven games, tied for the second most in the month. He was able to do so because the Jets’ offense was excellent during that period, averaging the fourth-best GF / GP. With Nikolaj Ehlers back, the Jets’ offense is almost at full strength, and as long as their offense flies high, that should make it easy for Hellebuyck to score victories.

Winnipeg Jets Goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck

Connor Hellebuyck’s revival went hand in hand with the Jets’ healthy attack. ( Associated Press Photo / Nam Y. Huh)

James Reimer, Sharks (last 3 starts: 3-0-0, .929 Sv%, 2.00 GAA)

Except for a disastrous January (2-4-1, .884 Sv%, 4.61 GAA), Reimer was very good this season and allowed just eight equal goals in six games in March. The Sharks are not very good, but Reimer is a big reason why they ran away from the league basement all season, and even with Adin hill and the recently added Kaapo Kahkonen on the depth map there is no doubt that the Sharks think Reimer is their no. 1 not.

He won three consecutive games. Granted, two of those games were against Arizona and Anaheim, but there are two more games against them, not to mention they will also face Chicago twice and Seattle once again. Reimer is a great option to start occasionally for fantasy executives who search the waiver for an extra win or two.

Erik Kallgren, Maple Leafs (3-2-1, .911 Sv%, 2.64 GAA)

It’s not that Kallgren has played particularly well since his elimination debut, but another injury less than eight minutes after Petr Mrazek‘s start Tuesday against the Bruins reopened the door for Kallgren to start. Kallgren allowed three goals on 26 shots that came in relief, and thanks to the Leafs’ effort of six goals, he was able to secure another victory. Early reports indicate that it is again Mrazek’s troublesome groin, and Jack Campbell‘s return date has still not been set even though he has practiced. The Leafs can provide a ton of good goal support, making Kallgren a good short-term target for fantasy managers.

Logan Thompson, Golden Knights (5-4-0, .914 Sv%, 2.89 GAA)

Perhaps we should not be too surprised that a 25-year-old goalkeeper saves the Knights’ season and fits right in with the rest of their “Golden Misfits”. Thompson’s controversial path to the NHL had its skeptics, including the Knights themselves who started Laurent Brossoit in rugby matches not too long ago. But Thompson continues to play Brossoit, and with news it Robin Lehner‘s rehabilitation has suffered a setback, it looks like Thompson will continue to start. He has listed in less than 15 percent of the Yahoo leagues, noting the Knights have a very favorable schedule ahead, facing Arizona, Seattle twice and Vancouver three times.

Do not be surprised if Thompson emerges as one of the league’s best goalkeepers in the next few weeks, statistically given his easy schedule.

Semyon Varlamov, Islanders (March Total: 4-3-1, .914 Sv%, 3.24 GAA)

Apart from his 6-3 defeat against the Bruins, in which the islanders allowed an uncharacteristically high 44 shots, Varlamov has been very good the last two weeks. It feels like Varlamov is having a terrible season, but that’s not really true when you look at his individual performance. According to most public GSAA models, Varlamov is still well above average; his six wins in 21 starts is a big eye pain, but it’s mainly because he gets very, very little goal support. It can now change that Brock Nelson‘s line set the league on fire, but Varlamov’s fantasy value will get a big boost due to an injury to his running mate, Ilja Sorokin, who did not travel to Tuesday’s game in Columbus. What was a 50-50 timeout is now Varlamov’s net, as the islands showed a strong reluctance to play Cory Schneider.

Anton Forsberg, Senators (March-total: 4-6-1, .922 Sv%, 2.63 GAA)

Forsberg’s raw figures are excellent; it’s just a pity the team in front of him is not so good, with the likes of Travis Hamonic and Michael Del Zotto on defense. It took a lot of attention away from how reliable Forsberg was, whose strong performances recently earned him a multi-year extension, and with Matt Murray on the shelf and Filip Gustavsson gives little reason for the coaches to trust him, Forsberg seeks Ottawa’s undisputed no. 1 to be. Managers who want to pick up the savings should look no further.

Honorable Mention: Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta, Hurricanes; Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury, Wild; Jake Allen, Canadiens; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

Tend off

Vitek Vanecek, capital letters (last 4 starts: 1-3-0, .876 Sv%, 4.19 GAA)

There has been no stability in the Caps’ net all season and Vanecek has conceded 15 goals in his last four games, including five on just 23 shots in just two periods against the Canes. The irony with goalkeeping is that some goalkeepers prefer to see more shots because it helps them get into a groove, and that does seem to be the case for Vanecek. Note, however, that the Caps have a tough time ahead of Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Boston and Toronto. Even if Ilya Samsonov somehow returning to a hero, fantasy managers should not place too much trust in any goalkeeper. It is best to just avoid them altogether because of their inconsistency and general unreliability.

Kevin Lankinen, Blackhawks (4-9-5, .886 Sv%, 3.63)

Lankinen is listed in nearly 30 percent of Yahoo leagues, an expected rise thereafter Marc-Andre Fleury was handed over to Minnesota, which paved the way for Lankinen to be their starting man for the rest of the season. Lankinen, however, continues to struggle and there is certainly a scenario in which third string Collin Delia start to siphon some start. Even at best, Lankinen and Delia will just give the Hawks a chance to stay in the game and cross their fingers in the hopes that their offense will let them out. No goalkeeper is recommended in any fantasy leagues in any format.

Dignified Mention: John Gibson and Luke Dostal, Ducks; Karel Vejmelka, Coyotes; Jacob Markstrom, Flames; Alex Nedeljkovic, Thomas Greiss and Calvin Pickard, Red Wings; Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, Oilers; Cal Petersen, Kings; Juuse Saros, Predators; Nico Daws, Devils; Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers

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