Musical chairs: goalie edition was a smashing success.
New faces, new places – that’s the theme coming out of a chaotic crease carousel in the NHL world. After months of speculation, the dust has settled on an uncharacteristically busy time for netminder movement around the league.
And somewhat surprisingly, a big shoe — Marc-Andre Fleury — did not and likely will not drop. Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon confirmed earlier in the week that Vegas would move forward with the Fleury/Robin Lehner tandem still intact. Not ideal, but there are far worse goalie problems to have right now. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers, who were unable to upgrade at the position and will run it back with Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith at the helm.
At any rate, let’s take a look at the fantasy fallout from all the activity:
Calgary Flames - Jacob Markstrom
Coming off a fantastic season, one in which he finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting, Markstrom undoubtedly solidifies Calgary’s crease situation. Making 43 appearances with the Canucks this past season, the 30-year-old went 23-16-4 with a 2.75 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. With a better defensive squad in front of him, Markstrom’s fantasy value should see an uptick. Buy.
Vancouver Canucks - Braden Holtby
Not a bad consolation prize for Jim Benning. At the very least, Holtby will push 24-year-old Thatcher Demko. Initially, a timeshare would make the most sense. The 2016 Vezina Trophy winner is coming off a dismal season where he posted a 3.11 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in 48 appearances with Washington. That said, a fresh start with a team certainly on the upswing could be just what the doctor ordered for the 30-year-old. Mark my words: Holtby is a sleeper pick.
Minnesota Wild – Cam Talbot
The 33-year-old goes from a playoff team in Calgary to a Minnesota organization firmly entrenched in a rebuild or retool, whatever you want to call it. Talbot’s the number one, but considering the potentially condensed schedule ahead, backup Alex Stalock will likely see plenty of action as well. Talbot is coming off a solid season where he posted a 12-10-1 record with a 2.63 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. Don’t reach in your drafts.
Ottawa Senators – Matt Murray
No more timeshare for Murray – he’ll be the number one in Canada's capital for the foreseeable future. Short term, the 26-year-old’s fantasy value will undoubtedly take a hit going from Pittsburgh to Ottawa. The long-term prospects are a different story, as the Senators have a bright future. Depending on your league settings, Murray should be viewed as a low-end number two option, if not a third-stringer. Be mindful of the injury history too. Cautiously invest in this stock.
Montreal Canadiens – Jake Allen
With all due respect to his predecessors, the Canadiens will finally possess a formidable backup option behind Carey Price. Allen is coming off a competitive year with St. Louis where he notched a 12-6-3 record to a go along with a 2.15 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. A possible condensed schedule coupled with the need to keep Price fresh and healthy should create plenty of opportunity for the 30-year-old Allen. I’d even think about rostering a Canadiens crease stack. Regardless, Allen should be viewed as a formidable streamer option going into next season.
Detroit Red Wings – Thomas Greiss
The 34-year-old is coming off a steady season (16-9-4, 2.74 GAA, .913 SVP), but rest assured, Detroit does not play defence like the New York Islanders. Between Greiss and Jonathan Bernier, there’s no question the former is the better option. The German is an upgrade on Jimmy Howard and should see the majority of the work with Bernier acting as the 1B in the tandem. At any rate, the Red Wings remain one of the worst teams in the NHL. Just to be safe, steer clear of this file.
New Jersey Devils – Corey Crawford
The Devils are being very delicate when it comes to future full-fledged starter MacKenzie Blackwood, and understandably so. Enter the vet, Corey Crawford, who at the very least will push the 23-year-old youngster for playing time. The 35-year-old Crawford tallied a 16-20-3 record with Chicago this past season, notching a 2.77 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Crawford still has game, but health remains a concern. Solid streamer option.
Washington Capitals – Henrik Lundqvist
Never a sight for sore eyes, Lundqvist should prove to be a competent backup and mentor for Ilya Samsonov in Washington. The 38-year-old is coming off a disappointing culmination to a tremendous career with the New York Rangers, where he posted a 3.16 goals-against average and .905 save percentage before ultimately losing his job. Consider Lundqvist nothing more than a stealth waiver option when facing a favourable opponent.