Fantasy Hockey: Don’t Hold Onto Backup Goalies
The NHL trade deadline is February 29. Those Fantasy Hockey owners who are holding onto backup goaltenders hoping they will get dealt to a team that will start them down the stretch, will more than likely face a harsh reality on deadline day. Goaltenders rarely get dealt on deadline day. The value just isn’t there. If a contending team were to lose their starting goalie to injury, then we can talk. However, if that’s not the case, NHL teams know they can get more value for a goaltender deal at the draft then they can during the season. So those owners hoping that Thomas Greiss, Jimmy Howard, Jacob Markstrom, and whichever net minders aren’t starting in Anaheim and Dallas get moved are likely to be very disappointed.
[caption id="attachment_87517" align="alignright" width="397"] Can Ben Bishop lead the LIghtning on another deep playoff run? Photo Credit: Jennifer Kuhn[/caption]
Karri Ramo had to leave the game Thursday night after colliding with Joonas Donskoi of the Sharks. He suffered an injury to his lower body, and while there is no immediate timetable as to how long he will be out of action, the injury is not expected to heal quickly. Coach Bob Hartley has already stated that Ramo won’t start Friday and that his prognosis is not “very good.” This will leave the starting job in the hands of Jonas Hiller. He has had a subpar season, as evidenced in his 2.98 GAA and .895 save percentage, but he has turned things around a bit of late, allowing only 10 goals in his last six appearances.
The Lightning may send Andrei Vasilevsky down to the AHL. If they do make this move, it won’t be an indictment of his play but rather an indication that the team does not want him to just rust away on the bench. Tampa Bay believes that Vasilevsky could be a starting NHL goaltender but in order for him to keep progressing and take that next step, he needs to play. Tampa has 29 games left this season but only two sets of back to back games (both this month). It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Ben Bishop were to start 25 of those games, and the team can always recall Vasilevsky to start for them when they need arises.
Jake Allen has been practicing with the Blues. He hasn’t been involved in the full practice but has been taking shots towards the end of the session. This is yet another positive step in his return from a knee injury that has sidelined him since Jan. 8. The team has yet to announce when they expect Allen to return to game action and they aren’t in any rush to do so with Brian Elliott playing so well. As we have mentioned before in this space, we would expect some kind of timeshare once Allen returns, with whomever is playing the best to have first crack at being the starter in the playoffs.
In what should come as no surprise, there are rumors flying around Friday that Carey Price is out for the season with his knee injury. Price suffered the injury in Nov. 25 and has suffered setback after setback in trying to return. This, of course, is a huge loss for Fantasy owners. If Price wasn’t the first goalie drafted back in September, he was Top 3. The Canadiens as a whole have suffered without Price, sitting fifth in the Atlantic Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference. If indeed Montreal has decided to shut Price down, and there is no confirmation from the team yet, it could be an indication from the team that the risk is not worth the reward. Who will start for Montreal? It’s been Mike Condon pretty much game in and game out since Price went down, but all of a sudden Ben Scrivens will make his fourth straight start Friday. The team is probably going to go with the hot backstop. Whomever is playing the best will continue to start.
Jonathan Quick also suffered an injury Tuesday when colliding with an opponent. Quick didn’t start Thursday night against the Islanders and is listed as day to day with a lower body injury. The Kings called up Peter Budaj and he was the first goaltender off the ice Friday, a pretty good indication that he will start against the Rangers that night. The team has not sent Quick home, so this could be a good sign, as they are in the middle of a six-game road trip. Jonas Enroth figures to see the bulk of the starts until Quick returns.
Mike Smith practiced for the Coyotes earlier this week, but he is still weeks, not days away from a return to the team. Smith had core muscle surgery Dec. 15 and his best case scenario to return was late February or early March, and that still seems to be the timetable. It may not really matter, however, for Fantasy owners, as the Coyotes are slumping badly of late and may be regressing back to the team we expected them to be coming into the season.
The Flyers activated Michal Neuvirth off of the Injured reserve. He was out due to a lower body injury. Steve Mason will still start the majority of the games for Philadelphia but a healthy backup in Neuvirth will give the team peace of mind when they feel Mason needs a rest.
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