NHL Fantasy: Are high drafted goalies poised to turn things around?

It has been a crazy year for goalies in the NHL, and therefore fantasy hockey. If you lucked out and drafted Igor Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin, Jake Oettinger, or Connor Hellebuyck, then you probably have nothing to complain about. For the rest of you, it’s been tough sledding.

Goalie pre-season versus current fantasy rankings

Andrei Vasilevskiy – TBL9185-176
Igor Shesterkin – NYR1056-46
Ilya Sorokin – NYI3448-14
Jacob Markstrom – CGY41325-284
Juuse Saros – NSH42205-163
Jake Oettinger – DAL4657-11
Frederik Andersen – CAR58311-253
Thatcher Demko – VAN59572-513
Marc-Andre Fleury – MIN65132-67
Sergei Bobrovsky – FLA66412-346
Darcy Kuemper – WSH67107-40
Tristan Jarry – PIT70384-314
Connor Hellebuyck – WPG741064
Jeremy Swayman – BOS88511-423
Cam Talbot – OTT94301-207
Jack Campbell – EDM116596-480

Even then, only one goaltender in the top tier list, Hellebuyck, has actually outperformed their average pre-season draft ranking so far this season.

The question on the minds of most fantasy mangers at the quarter pole of the season is: will my goalies bounce back?

One way to make a prediction is to look at each goalie’s save percentage at various danger levels. If a goalie is letting in a lot of goals from high danger areas, this likely indicates a tougher road back. If a goalie is getting beat from low or medium danger areas, there is a higher likelihood of them finding their game again and becoming more valuable as the season progresses.

For this analysis, we took a look at every goalie that has played at least 10 games this season. That includes most of the goalies above, plus several more.

Goalie save percentage at high, medium and low danger

The table below shows the raw values for each included goalie’s save percentage overall and at the three danger levels. This is for reference.

GoaltenderOverall SV%HDSV%MDSV%LDSV%
Linus Ullmark0.9370.8560.9410.969
Connor Hellebuyck0.9350.8450.9720.967
Jake Oettinger0.9270.8620.9150.97
Carter Hart0.9250.9090.8830.961
Ilya Sorokin0.9250.8490.9420.972
Logan Thompson0.9250.8280.9220.975
Alexandar Georgiev0.9240.870.9280.947
Vitek Vanecek0.9160.8030.9370.95
Igor Shesterkin0.9140.8640.8610.979
Ville Husso0.9120.8460.8690.964
Martin Jones0.9120.8220.8980.975
Darcy Kuemper0.9110.8040.8980.967
Karel Vejmelka0.9090.7890.9290.981
Andrei Vasilevskiy0.9060.8020.880.986
Marc-Andre Fleury0.9060.7960.9010.973
Juuse Saros0.9050.8330.8980.962
Jordan Binnington0.9050.7690.9330.961
Anton Forsberg0.9040.7980.9220.943
Jake Allen0.9010.8030.9040.976
James Reimer0.8990.8470.8630.951
Sergei Bobrovsky0.8950.7980.9320.927
Tristan Jarry0.8950.7470.9350.958
John Gibson0.8930.8160.8950.958
Jonathan Quick0.8920.8030.8520.972
Jacob Markstrom0.8870.8090.8730.951
Eric Comrie0.8870.7980.8640.96
Thatcher Demko0.8840.8050.8720.935
Jack Campbell0.8730.7530.8430.953

An easier way to visualize this table is by calculating the ranking of each goaltender’s value in each category.

GoaltenderOverall SV%
Jack Campbell28272821
Thatcher Demko27152227
Jacob Markstrom25142122
Eric Comrie25212418
Jonathan Quick2417278
John Gibson23131819
Sergei Bobrovsky2121728
Tristan Jarry2128519
James Reimer2072522
Jake Allen1917134
Anton Forsberg18211026
Juuse Saros16101515
Jordan Binnington1626616
Andrei Vasilevskiy1420201
Marc-Andre Fleury1424147
Karel Vejmelka132582
Darcy Kuemper12161512
Ville Husso1082314
Martin Jones1012155
Igor Shesterkin93263
Vitek Vanecek817424
Alexandar Georgiev72925
Carter Hart411916
Ilya Sorokin4628
Logan Thompson411105
Jake Oettinger341210
Connor Hellebuyck29112
Linus Ullmark15311

From this view, you can more clearly see where each goalie is struggling the most.

Goalies on the right track

Several goalies pop out right away as struggling to save low danger shots and excelling at high danger shots. This, in my eyes, indicates a goalie that has a much higher chance of turning things around.

Thatcher Demko

  • Demko is ranked 27/28 on the list for overall SV%, but 15th in HDSV% and just 27th in LDSV%.
  • If he can shut things down from low danger, his overall SV% will climb in turn.

Jacob Markstrom

  • Markstrom is ranked 25/28 in overall SV%, but 14th in HDSV% and 22nd in LDSV%.
  • He’s made incredible stops at high danger this season, so as the team in front of him tightens up and he starts making more routine saves, his numbers will surely turn around.

John Gibson

  • Gibson is ranked 23/28 in overall SV%, but 13th in HDSV% and 19th in LDSV%.
  • Gibson’s team isn’t very good, but he’s still a very good goalie. Maybe you shouldn’t rely on him as a G1, but as a G2 or G3 he is a perfect candidate for a bounce back.

Goalies on the wrong track

On the other side, several goalies immediately stand out as ones that are just having bad years, and can’t seem to stop a puck from anywhere on the ice.

Jack Campbell

  • Campbell is ranked 28/28 in overall SV%, last on the list, as well as 27th in HDSV% and 21st in LDSV%.
  • Skinner should be the Oilers’ starter and it’s not particularly close at all.

Marc-Andre Fleury

  • Fleury is ranked 14th in overall SV%, but is 7th in LDSV% and just 24th in HDSV%.
  • This doesn’t bode well for Fleury’s stats to go up as he is already stopping a very high percentage of easy shots. If anything, his numbers could go down.

Andrei Vasilevskiy

  • I’ll preface this by acknowledging the fact that Vasilevskiy is still probably the best goaltender on the planet (if not then easily top-three), and if I had him on my team I would have 100% faith in him turning things around.
  • His numbers aren’t favourable at this stage, however.
  • Vasilevskiy is ranked 14th in overall SV%, but 1st in LDSV% and 20th in HDSV%. He’s doing a great job stopping the easy ones, but is really struggling when teams get quality chances against him.

Surprising goalies to hold onto

Finally, there are a few surprising goalies that should be able to keep up their solid pace so far.

Carter Hart

  • Hart is ranked 4th in overall SV%, 1st in HDSV%, and just 16th in LDSV%.
  • He should be just fine. Of course, he could see a drop from high danger, but an uptick from low and medium should cancel that out nicely.

Alexandar Georgiev

  • Georgiev is ranked 7th in overall SV%, but 2nd in HDSV% and just 25th in LDSV%.
  • His numbers could easily come up even higher as he stops a higher rate of easy shots.
  • He should remain the Avalache’s starter.

Vitek Vanecek

  • The Devils are a wagon right now, and Vanecek is performing very well. He ranks 8th in overall SV%, 17th in HDSV%, and 24th in LDSV%.
  • He should be able to hold pace.

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