NHL Fantasy Mailbag: How to navigate late-season goalie struggles

HC at Noon delves deep into the Maple Leafs great Freddy Andersen debate, meaning should they decrease his workload down the stretch to prevent his burnout, which would likely gift 2nd place to the Bruins.

It’s tough to watch a fantasy season go up in smoke over inconsistent goaltending.

Last week, it was Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price who was unceremoniously shredded for eight goals in a start in Anaheim. This time around, it’s Leafs No. 1 Frederik Andersen having his issues. The ultra-consistent and possible Vezina candidate has already been chased in back-to-back starts this week, pretty much punting every major goalie category for fantasy owners.

If you’re among the scrambling, utilize the waiver wire to at least try and salvage the wins category. Speaking of the Leafs, Garret Sparks is projected to get the call Saturday night against Ottawa. That may help you out.

When it comes to the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool, I’d target goalies who stand to play a ton down the stretch. This way, you know you’re maximizing potential. Matt Murray, Price and the red-hot Darcy Kuemper should be in your crosshairs.

Now to your questions:

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Jonathan Zim (@flapanthers_JZ): Who are some solid crease options on the waiver wire?

Firstly, identifying potential favourable matchups would be a decent start. At this point, I’d be streaming pretty much any goalie available that’s playing Ottawa, Detroit, Los Angeles or New Jersey. Still can’t believe Anders Nilsson’s performance against the Blues on Thursday night.

Some waiver options, if applicable: Kuemper (ARI), Jake Allen (STL), Carter Hart (PHI), and Philipp Grubauer (COL). Again, hunt down value starts. With limited stable waiver options available, patchwork is the name of the game this time of year if you’re looking for goalie help.

G (@G36367458): Is Curtis McElhinney droppable? I currently own Petr Mrazek, Jordan Binnington and Jake Allen.

Definitely. The veteran Canes goalie has struggled mightily lately and considering you’re in the playoffs, there’s no time for patience. Besides, you own Mrazek anyways.

Also, I would think Rod Brind’Amour would split the games when it comes to back-to-backs. Aside from that, I can see Mrazek getting the majority of the starts down the stretch.

Use that roster spot to pick up an extra forward. (Friday: 6 Games, Saturday: 12 Games, Sunday: 7 Games)

Mike K (@KennyD8998): Who are some decent Landeskog replacement candidates?

Tough blow for sure but as you know, the show must go on.

Internally, I’d have a look at Derick Brassard and/or J.T. Compher. Sadly, you’re not going to find anyone close in worth to what Landeskog offered you.

Outside of Denver, there are two players that really stand out:

Brendan Perlini, LW/RW, Chicago Blackhawks (Yahoo! Ownership: 3 per cent): Playing on a line with Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat, the 22-year-old has seven goals and nine points over the last six games. Ride the hot wave!

Kevin Labanc, LW/RW, San Jose Sharks (Yahoo! Ownership: 23 per cent): The 23-year-old has found considerable chemistry in recent games with Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorensen on the third line. That said, he does play up the lineup quite a bit too. (Last 11 GP: 2 G, 8 A, 10 P, +4)

Additional options: Gustav Nyquist (SJS), Roope Hintz (DAL), Andreas Athanasiou (DET)

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Daniel Teasdale (@Teasdale_Daniel): What are your thoughts on Roope Hintz (DAL)?

In my opinion at least, the surprising rookie winger should still be considered no more than a daily play at this point.

Yes, he’s currently playing with Tyler Seguin and Alex Radulov but the way Jim Montgomery shuffles his top-six, you just never know. The first-year bench boss loves stacking his number-one trio (Jamie Benn-Seguin-Radulov) and rightfully so.

Dallas is constantly in search of secondary scoring.

Sean O’Connor (@oconnor9sean): Rest of the season — Tomas Tatar or Nino Niederreiter?

Roll with Niederreiter. In 23 games with the Hurricanes, he’s been hovering around a point per game (11 G, 10 A). Consistent exposure to Sebastian Aho sure is hard to overlook as well.

When it comes to Tatar, it’s been a great bounce-back season. He just recently hit the 50-point mark for just the second time in his career. That said, the Canadiens have scored just 12 goals over the past six games. Consider that with their putrid 31st-ranked power play (12.1 per cent) and it’s an easy answer for me.

Niederreiter over Tatar.

Michael Walsh (@mikewalsh86): What should I do with Pierre-Luc Dubois (CBJ)?

If you have the luxury, be patient.

Considering what they’ve demonstrated in the past, it’s inevitable that Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson will rediscover their magic again soon. Aside from this recent slide, they’ve been one of the most productive top lines in the NHL this season.

Obviously, if you’re in pure desperation mode, cut bait and don’t think twice about it. Now’s not the time to be hoping for someone to find their offensive game.

Assess your current situation and act accordingly.

Daniel Duke (@canadianduke): In a keeper league, who would you keep to-go along with Dylan Larkin, Sebastian Aho, Quinn Hughes and Andrei Vasilevskiy? (Pacioretty, Zadina, Keller, Drouin or Johansen?)

I’m beating the Pacioretty drum all day and all night. The prospects of skating with Paul Stastny and Mark Stone for the foreseeable future is enough to lock me in long-term.

Discounted high-end winger production is hard to find these days. You can always find depth up the middle in your draft.

Generally speaking, I like to take proven assets over potential. All three players on Vegas’ new No. 1 line have a legitimate track record in the fantasy world. I’m buying.

For the purpose of this exercise, here’s how I’d rank those five players listed — Pacioretty, Keller, Drouin, Johansen, Zadina.

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