Goaltending is one of the most fickle positions in fantasy hockey. It can be incredibly difficult to predict the performance of most goalies in the league. This season is a perfect example as many of last year’s top netminders have struggled to start 2022–23. Having some added depth at the position can bring a major advantage in weekly matchups.
This season we’ve seen quite a few backups across the league become fantasy relevant due to their own performance and the poor performance of the starter in front of them. The longer the season goes on, the more starts the below goalies may start to see. Let’s take a look at three backup goalies worth adding in your league.
Stuart Skinner – Edmonton Oilers
Arguably the best backup goalie so far this season, Stuart Skinner has taken full advantage of his opportunity with the Oilers. With newly signed starter Jack Campbell off to an incredibly rocky start to the season, Skinner has seen his role increase with each passing week. After starting just 12 games last season, Skinner has already started 11 of the Oilers 24 games thus far. He’s worked his way up from being a pure backup to essentially being in a shared 1A/1B situation with Campbell just one quarter of the way through the season.
It’s not just that Skinner’s getting plenty of starts, he’s vastly outplaying Campbell in those starts. Skinner currently sits with a 6–5–0 record along with a .914 save percentage and 2.91 GAA. Campbell meanwhile has a 7–6–0 record but an ugly .872 save percentage and 4.12 GAA. It’s not even close right now, Skinner has by far been the better goalie. Campbell’s big contract is likely earning him starts at this point as Skinner has consistently given the Oilers a better chance to win all season.
Skinner was being drafted as the 40th goalie off the board in Yahoo! leagues but now sits 24th in the NHL for wins, 20th for save percentage, and 33rd for GAA. He’s already surpassing his drafted value, and should only continue to get more opportunity as the year goes on. Campbell has shown no signs of improvement thus far meaning Skinner will continue to get starts. At 51% rostered in Yahoo! league’s, Skinner is worth an add if he’s available in your league.
Dan Vladar – Calgary Flames
On pretty much no one’s fantasy radar to start the season, Dan Vladar has suddenly rose to prominence playing behind one of the league’s top goaltenders from last season. With Jacob Markstrom playing well below expectations this season, it’s opened the door for Vladar to get more starts and earn a larger role. Last season with the Flames he started 19 games. This year he’s started in six already and is on pace for 21 starts. With the way Markstrom has been play of late, that number could be much higher by seasons end.
To close out November, he started to carve out a much larger role. Through the first month of the season he started just three of the Flames 16 games. Since then he’s started three of their next five games. Unsurprisingly his play has also improved over that span. After a slow start to the season, he’s posted a .939 save percentage across his last four starts. Markstrom meanwhile is sitting on an ugly .889 save percentage. If the Flames are smart, they’ll give Vladar plenty of starts the rest of the season.
Vladar was essentially undrafted in every league, and is still just 7% owned in Yahoo! leagues. If you need some goaltending help for cheap, Vladar should be an easy add in your league. The Flames have one of the easiest schedules in the NHL the rest of the way which could lead to plenty of wins for Vladar if he keeps his recent play up.
Spencer Martin – Vancouver Canucks
I promise this isn’t meant to be a Western Canada only list. The starting goaltenders out West have just all kicked off 2022–23 on a rough note. Like Skinner and Vladar, Spencer Martin wasn’t on anyone’s radar to begin the season but has since carved out a nice role for himself behind a struggling starter. With Thatcher Demko now out for a minimum of six weeks, Martin’s role will only continue to grow.
Thus far Martin has started nine games for the Canucks, posting an impressive 6–2–1 record along with a .900 save percentage and 3.21 GAA. His individual stats aren’t great, but it doesn’t help playing behind a team in the Canucks who started the year so poorly. The Canucks should at the very least be more respectable from here on out, and Martin’s numbers should improve. With Demko sitting on a .883 save percentage, 3–10–2 record and now out injured, Martin is in line to get a ton of work going forward.
Even if his numbers don’t improve a ton, he’s going to get a lot of starts which warrants a pickup in fantasy. If Demko is out long term, Martin is the unquestioned starter on the Canucks. He’s currently just 20% owned and is worth a stash with Demko out for the next few weeks.
Cheap value goalie adds
All three of Skinner, Vladar, and Martin can be had for free off of waivers in most leagues. All three present real fantasy value for the rest of the season, with their value only increasing as each week passes. If the starting goalies for the Oilers, Flames and Canucks can’t turn their games around soon, it’ll be the backups listed above getting the opportunity in net. If you’re of need in some insurance in net or drafted one of the many struggling star goalies, picking up one of the these goalies can provide you with the goaltending stats you need.
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