Judging the fantasy value of a goalie in a timeshare can be tricky. There a lot of variables to consider. Given the parity of goaltending in the NHL, the situation a goalie is in is often as important to his fantasy value as his skillset. I broke down some of the trickier timeshares heading into the 2018-19 season to give you an idea of who to target and who to pass on come draft day. Avoiding timeshares is generally a good rule to follow, but there are always exceptions.
Semyon Varlamov (ADP: 124.5) & Philipp Grubauer (ADP: 197.5)
The Avalanche are one of two teams on this list that made the playoffs last season. Longtime Avalanche Semyon Varlamov was excellent last year, but injuries to his groin and knee limited him to just 47 starts. Durability is now officially a concern for Varlamov; he also missed the last 40 games of the 2016-17 season due to hip surgery. With former backup Jonathan Bernier signing with the Red Wings, Colorado traded for Philip Grubauer to fill the role of insurance for Varlamov. Grubauer has posted a .923 SV% or better in each of the last two seasons, and even overtook Braden Holtby as the Capitals’ starter at the end of the regular season. Holtby, of course, regained control of the crease in game 3 of the first round and never surrendered it, making Grubauer expendable.
Varlamov should continue to see the bulk of the starts so long as he’s healthy. Grubauer has proven himself to be up to the task of a starting job and would gain immediate fantasy relevance if Varlamov were to miss more time. Either way, expect head coach Jared Bednar to start Grubauer more than the average backup in an effort to keep Varlamov healthy. It could look more like a 45-35 split by season’s end, so avoid making either one your number-one netminder.
New York Islanders
Robin Lehenr (ADP: 244.0) & Thomas Greiss (ADP: 130.0)
After back-to-back seasons with a SV% over .920, Robin Lehner struggled in 2017-18, posting a .908 SV% and 3.01 GAA in a contract year. That helped the Islanders get him on a bargain deal of 1-year, $1.5 million. With Jaroslav Halak gone the crease is Lehner’s for the time being, but Thomas Greiss has challenged better starters than Lehner for ice time throughout his career. Most recently, he caught fire in 2015-16, posting a .925 SV% and worked his way into starting 41 games for the Isles. He’s struggled in recent years, but he remains a notable threat to Lehner.
Greiss has historically performed better in a limited role, so I would be surprised to see him start much more than 30 games this year. Still, there’s enough potential to add another knock to Lehner’s fantasy value. This is a goaltending situation that needs to be avoided at all costs. Both goalies struggled last season and no team surrendered more shots than the Islanders. A potential timeshare means neither goalie warrants even a selection on draft day.
Brian Elliott (ADP: 154.5) & Michal Neuvirth (ADP: 190.0)
Yes, the Flyers still don’t have a number-one netminder. The franchise that has been searching for a starter for the better part of two decades is the most obvious timeshare in the NHL coming into the 2018-19 season. Brian Elliot is listed as their number-one goalie but hasn’t made more than 45 starts in a season since 2010-11. The 33-year-old will share the crease with Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth has had varying levels of success in the NHL but has never started more than 31 games in a season. Neuvirth and Elliot both have a mediocre career SV% at .912 and .913, respectively.
Neuvirth was the better goalie last season, posting a .915 SV% in 22 appearances. Elliot was slightly behind with a .909 SV% in his 43 appearances. Who emerges as the starter this season is anyone’s guess; Dave Hakstoll will inevitably ride the hot hand and their career numbers are near identical. Given his experience, Elliot should see more work at the start of the season, giving him a slight edge over Neuvirth in terms of fantasy value. A lack of job security means you should avoid having either one as one of your top two goaltenders.
Detroit Red Wings
Jimmy Howard (ADP: 190.0) & Jonathan Bernier (ADP: Undrafted)
The Red Wings signed Bernier to backup Jimmy Howard this season. Like he did in Colorado, Bernier should challenge the Red Wings’ starter for playing time in 2018-19. Solid play and an injury to Varlamov granted Bernier 37 starts last season. The 30-year-old veteran registered 19 wins and a .913 SV%. The trading of Petr Mrazek forced Howard to make 60 appearances last season for the first time since the 2010-11 season. At 34-years-old, the Red Wings would like to ease the workload of their longtime goalie.
Howard is still clearly in line for the bulk of the starts but, if he’s outplayed, could be leapfrogged by Bernier on the depth chart. On top of everything else, the Red Wings don’t project to be very competitive this season. At this point in their careers, both goalies are mediocre at best. The timeshare leaves little to no fantasy value for either Detroit netminder.
Scott Darling (ADP: Undrafted) & Petr Mrazek (ADP: Undrafted)
The Hurricanes gave up the 10th most goals in the NHL last season despite surrendering the fewest shots in the league. Their dominance at 5v5 makes for an ideal fantasy-situation for any half-decent netminder. The problem, of course, is neither of the Hurricanes goalies have been what you would consider decent. Scott Darling posted a horrendous .888 SV% for the Hurricanes last season but is still projected to be the starter to open 2018-19. He is only two years removed from a .924 SV% and 2.38 GAA, but it’s hard to look past that dreadful performance from a year ago.
The newly-signed Petr Mrazek should challenge Darling for regular playing time. Like Darling, Mrazek found success in the past but struggled in recent years. He’s posted an abysmal .901 SV% since the start of the 2016-17 season. Still, goalies are fickle, and either one of these two can run away with the job. The Hurricanes’ ability to limit shots against means a low GAA would be awaiting the first one to churn out a respectable SV%. Given their history, neither Darling or Mrazek can be relied on to be a fantasy starter this season. They both have upside but this amounts to little more than a speculative play to start the season.
Roberto Luongo (ADP: 140.0) & James Reimer (ADP: 211.0)
Of all the goalies mentioned in this post, Roberto Luongo should be the first one off the board on draft day. While durability has become a concern, the 39-year-old’s play has done anything but diminish in the twilight of his career. Luongo posted a remarkable .929 SV% in 2017-18 and has a .921 SV% over the last four seasons. Though injuries have been a factor, the Panthers have opted to lighten his workload in an effort to prolong the career of the future hall-of-famer. Given how strong the Panthers look heading into this season, Luongo is still a borderline number-one fantasy goalie despite capping out around 45 starts.
The Panthers are the only team in the NHL that have two goalies worthy of a selection on draft day. Obviously, James Reimer is an ideal handcuff should you go with Luongo as one of your top two goalies, but the former Maple Leaf holds some fantasy value of his own. The 30-year-old has started 39 and 42 games for the Panthers in the last two seasons, respectively, posting a respectable .916 SV% over that span. He gets bumped up to fantasy number-one status whenever Luongo is sidelined but sees enough starts to warrant a roster spot either way. He can’t be relied on as one of your starting goalies but is an excellent source of spot starts in daily leagues.
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